1543. In the court of the aging Henry VIII the catholic fraction is again winning sympathy with the king. Gardiner and bishop Bonner are arresting protestants in the streets of London and Cranmer is worrying about his position. In the meantime, the king is looking for a sixth wife. He’s courting Lady Latimer, a friend of the Seymours who was recently widowed.
Matthew Shardlake receives a new case from the court of requests about a boy named Adam Kite who seems to have become mad. People talk he is possessed by the devil but Matthew and his friend Guy don’t believe so. When suddenly one of his fellow lawyers and comrades is brutally murdered, Shardlake and Barak once again are hunting a killer commissioned by Cranmer and the Seymours.
It’s no secret that I love this series. Revelation is the fourth book and in this story the topic of religion is explored. At the end of Henry VIII’s reign protestants and catholics were fighting for power. Bonner is burning protestant heretics, while at the same time the king is hunting a new wife with protestant sympathies… You can feel the unrest in the streets of London through the pages. It’s a great setting.
Shardlake again has two different cases to solve. We have the case of Adam Kite, a protestant boy who is talking about God and constantly praying. Because people believe him mad, he’s placed in the Bedlam hospital for the insane. A few days later, one of Matthew’s lawyer friends is cruelly killed in a fountain. Matthew promises his widow he will find the killer but before he knows he’s at court standing before the archbishop Cranmer and the brothers Seymour. There have been other killings and one of them is linked to Catherine Parr.
There are a few other secondary plot lines such as the relationship between Barak and Tamasin, the friendship between Matthew and Guy and Matthew’s own religious conscience which is once again tested. I did like the different stories, but the resolution around Adam Kite felt too fast and artificial. It seems Sansom especially wanted to introduce Ellen, one of the other inhabitants from the Bedlam hospital, as a character for the coming books. I also believe we will see more of Edward and Thomas Seymour.
Revolution has the disadvantage that it comes after Sovereign, which is still my favourite book from this series. But it is once again a great mystery novel in a phenomenal historical setting. I always like books that feature Catherine Parr, she was so much more than a nursemaid. Highly recommended series, but I suggest you start with the first one ‘Dissolution’.
Have you read this series? If yes, what’s your favourite?