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Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom Review

Title: Dark Fire

Author: C.J. Sansom

First published November 5, 2004

501 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780143036432 (ISBN10: 0143036432)

Rating: 4.29


Step into the world of Tudor England in 1540, where Matthew Shardlake, the hunchback lawyer, finds himself embroiled in a dangerous mission. When a young girl is charged with murder, Shardlake is her only hope of salvation.

But as he delves deeper into the case, he finds himself ensnared in the dangerous schemes of Thomas Cromwell, the feared vicar general of Henry VIII. Cromwell tasks Shardlake with finding Dark Fire, an ancient weapon of mass destruction that could save his position at court.

With time running out and conspiracies at every turn, Shardlake must use all his cunning to uncover the truth and save England from destruction. Will he be able to solve the mystery before it’s too late?

Find out in C.J. Sansom’s thrilling novel, Dark Fire.

About the Author

C.J. Sansom is a British crime novelist who was born in 1952 and studied history at the University of Birmingham, earning both a BA and a PhD. After working various jobs, he decided to become a solicitor, but he eventually left that profession to focus on writing full-time.

Sansom gained popularity with his series of crime novels set during the reign of King Henry VIII in the 16th century. The main character, Matthew Shardlake, is a hunchbacked lawyer who initially works for Thomas Cromwell in Dissolution and Dark Fire before later working for Thomas Cranmer in Sovereign and Revelation.

The BBC has commissioned an adaptation of Dissolution, with Kenneth Branagh set to star as Shardlake, and more adaptations of the Shardlake books are expected. Sansom has been involved in the series’ development, which is currently in its final stages of negotiation.

In addition to the Shardlake series, Sansom has also written Winter in Madrid, a thriller set in Spain in 1940 after the Spanish Civil War. Dark Fire, one of the books in the Shardlake series, won the 2005 Ellis Peters Historical Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA).

Sansom himself was also highly commended in the CWA Dagger in the Library award in 2007 for his work on the Shardlake series.

Editoral Review

Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom is a historical mystery novel set in Tudor England, first published in 2004. Sansom, a British author and former lawyer, is known for his critically acclaimed Matthew Shardlake series, which follows a hunchbacked lawyer and his investigations during the reign of Henry VIII.

Dark Fire is the second book in the series and takes place in 1540, during the tumultuous reign of King Henry VIII.

The novel follows Shardlake as he is tasked with investigating the theft of a mysterious substance known as “dark fire,” which has the potential to change the course of the ongoing war with France. Alongside his assistant, Jack Barak, Shardlake navigates the treacherous political climate of Tudor England, uncovering a web of deceit and betrayal that threatens to engulf them both.

Sansom’s writing style is both immersive and engaging, transporting the reader to the streets of Tudor London with vivid descriptions and meticulous attention to detail. The historical setting is expertly rendered, with Sansom’s extensive research evident in every page.

The characters are fully realized and complex, with Shardlake’s hunchback adding an intriguing layer of depth to his already compelling personality.

The plot of Dark Fire is well-paced, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged without feeling overwhelming. The mystery at the heart of the novel is intriguing, and the resolution is both satisfying and unexpected.

The themes of power, corruption, and loyalty are woven throughout the narrative, giving the story a sense of depth and complexity.

One of the strengths of Dark Fire is its historical accuracy and attention to detail. Sansom’s depiction of Tudor England is both informative and immersive, providing a glimpse into the customs, politics, and daily life of the time.

The novel also touches on issues that are still relevant today, such as the abuse of power and the consequences of war.

However, the novel is not without its flaws. At times, the pacing can feel slow, and some of the secondary characters are not as fully developed as they could be.

Additionally, the resolution of the mystery may feel a bit contrived to some readers.

Overall, Dark Fire is a well-crafted historical mystery that will appeal to fans of the genre. Sansom’s writing is engaging and immersive, and his attention to detail and historical accuracy are impressive.

The novel’s themes and issues are still relevant today, making it a thought-provoking read. While it may not be perfect, Dark Fire is a solid entry in the Matthew Shardlake series, and a must-read for fans of historical fiction.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.