The Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

So, you’re a bookworm. And suddenly, you find you have the time to read as much as you’ve always wanted to. What better time to start catching up on series than right now?! I thought I’d offer some tips (though not necessarily all series) over the next few days/weeks/months (? Yikes!)

Today, I’m kicking things off with the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J. Sansom. If you’re a fan of historical (crime) fiction, this series is for you.

The series currently stands at 7 books and they are sure to keep you busy for quite a while. Book one, Dissolution, is the shortest at 456 pages. Book seven, Tombland, is the longest and has 866 glorious pages.


We first meet Matthew Shardlake in Dissolution. Matthew is a lawyer, working out of Lincoln’s Inn in London in Tudor times, in the service of Thomas Cromwell. King Henry VIII has ordered the dissolution of the monasteries. At one of the monasteries, all hell breaks loose and a commissioner is found murdered. Matthew and his assistant are sent to Scarnsea to investigate.

With Matthew, C.J. Sansom has created a wonderful protagonist. As a hunchback, Matthew is often not taken seriously, somewhat underestimated. He struggles with his beliefs, he is often in pain and vulnerable, but he’s also incredibly intelligent and astute. His disability will not stop him from getting to the truth, no matter who tries to block his way. But the Tudor times were turbulent, in case you didn’t know and although Matthew is richer and more privileged than most people, he is still powerless in the midst of the political schemers like Thomas Cromwell and Richie Rich. Matthew may not be at court, but he’s close enough and with unpredictable people around him at all times, you just never know where the danger will be coming from.

To me, the Shardlake series offers the best of both worlds. I love crime fiction and I love historical fiction, especially set in Tudor times, and in this case I get both. It’s clear a humongous amount of research goes into these books. You end up learning quite a lot but it never turns into a long boring history lesson. C.J. Sansom has managed to create engaging characters, some of which come back time and time again so you can see them develop and there’s a fabulous balance between Shardlake’s private and professional life.

Big books do not scare me. I read the Game of Throne series, everything after that seems like a breeze. The books in the Shardlake series never felt too long for me, despite their page count. The investigations Shardlake undertakes are always fascinating and the books have me absolutely hooked from start to finish. I’m not normally one who reads a book more than once but these have a special place on my bookshelves and I know that I will return to them at some point.

I don’t know if there will be an eighth book, though I fiercely hope so. If there ever was a perfect time for you to get caught up, then this is it. C.J. Sansom is an outstanding author and he is, in my most humble opinion, head and shoulders above anyone else in this genre.

So, are you tempted?

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon UK | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones

Massively grateful shout-out to Leah for the recommendation!

  19 comments for “The Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

  1. March 20, 2020 at 1:15 pm

    Wonderful idea for a new feature and you’ve tempted me with your first post! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. March 20, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    I love this series!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. March 20, 2020 at 3:21 pm

    This is a great idea, Eva. I’ve wanted to read this series for some time!

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2020 at 10:23 am

      Thank you, Jen! And I hope you get around to reading it soon and that you love it as much as I do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. March 20, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I love this series and have read all the previous ones but I still have to pluck up the courage to tackle Tombland. I have it on audio book and it is 37 hours long!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thequietgeordie
    March 20, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    Big books scare the life out of me – but this is a good time to try and read some!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. March 21, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Oooh, you don’t know how happy it makes me that you’ve become a Shardlake fan! 😁😁😁😁😁 I so hope there will be an eighth too – there’s always a huge gap between books, not surprisingly considering how much research must go into them. I’m sorely tempted to do a complete re-read now! Thanks for the shout-out too! 😁😁😁😁😁

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2020 at 10:27 am

      I will seriously always be hugely grateful to you for putting this series on my radar even if buying all seven in one go could have gone so horribly wrong πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. March 22, 2020 at 7:50 am

    This series intimidates me very much πŸ™ˆπŸ˜‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 25, 2020 at 10:26 am

      Why? Because the books are quite long? Surely not!

      Liked by 1 person

      • March 25, 2020 at 8:55 pm

        Yes, that’s exactly why! A rather long series consisting of thick tomes, who has the time?!


  8. Lee Burnham
    August 21, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    I plowed through all 7 in one week but now I want to be able to digest the 8th one NOW!

    Liked by 1 person

    • August 23, 2021 at 10:59 am

      Oh, me too. But I’m truly worried it might never happen.


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