Friday, 21 February 2014

Book review: Revelation, by C.J. Sansom

What a week. I can't wait to tell you all about my first week of work experience. Until then, let me talk about C.J. Sansom (again)...


Unsurprisingly, this story is based on the Book of Revelation, argued to be the most blood-thirsty and violent gospel in the New Testament. This time, the story becomes much more personal when Shardlake's close friend, Roger Elliard, a kind, philanthropic individual, is murdered. 

Similarly to Dark Fire, Shardlake has two cases to solve: that of Adam Kite, possessed by religious mania and incarcerated in the Bedlam asylum, and the violent murder of his friend.

As the prophecies of Revelation are carried out in the tumultuous spring of 1543, Shardlake finds himself working for Cranmer on a deadly mission, which also brings him into contact with Catherine Parr, the future Queen of England. This novel was more gruesome, more violent and much, much tenser, with Shardlake battling personal emotions throughout.    

The religious mania of Adam Kite is echoed on the streets of London during Shardlake's investigations, with Bishop Bonner attempting a purge of Protestants. The zealousness of people's beliefs is alarming, causing utter blindness to what is happening around them - Adam Kite's priest fasts with him for three days, praying constantly, not realising that Adam is already weak and deeply fearful of evoking the wrath of God. It seems fitting that, with this unrest and bubbling anger, the fifth book is about war. It is also understandable that Shardlake becomes increasingly disillusioned with religion, questioning the presence of God at all in such a volatile and hateful world.

The story touches on the characters' personal lives more than the previous novels, such as Shardlake's and Guy's loneliness and Barak's marital problems - his wife, Tamasin (whom we meet in Sovereign) delivers a stillborn child, causing the couple to struggle with their own feelings of guilt and sadness, thus creating a distance between them.

I am always amazed at the cleverness of C.J. Sansom's plot, and once again, I was dumbfounded when I found out who the murderer was. This is one of the best books in the series - I've tried to decide which is better, Dissolution or Revelation, but I can't!


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