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Spring, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector's prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous Spring, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector's prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry. Since the old King's death, Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry's younger daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of the wife of a distant Norfolk relation of Elizabeth's mother, John Boleyn - which could have political implications for Elizabeth - brings Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas Overton to the summer assizes at Norwich. There they are reunited with Shardlake's former assistant Jack Barak. The three find layers of mystery and danger surrounding the death of Edith Boleyn, as a second murder is committed. And then East Anglia explodes, as peasant rebellion breaks out across the country. The yeoman Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and establishing a vast camp outside Norwich. Soon the rebels have taken over the city, England's second largest. Barak throws in his lot with the rebels; Nicholas, opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle; while Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the rebels. Meanwhile he discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry . . .


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Spring, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector's prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous Spring, 1549. Two years after the death of Henry VIII, England is sliding into chaos . . .The nominal king, Edward VI, is eleven years old. His uncle Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford, rules as Protector. The extirpation of the old religion by radical Protestants is stirring discontent among the populace while the Protector's prolonged war with Scotland is proving a disastrous failure and threatens to involve France. Worst of all, the economy is in collapse, inflation rages and rebellion is stirring among the peasantry. Since the old King's death, Matthew Shardlake has been working as a lawyer in the service of Henry's younger daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. The gruesome murder of the wife of a distant Norfolk relation of Elizabeth's mother, John Boleyn - which could have political implications for Elizabeth - brings Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas Overton to the summer assizes at Norwich. There they are reunited with Shardlake's former assistant Jack Barak. The three find layers of mystery and danger surrounding the death of Edith Boleyn, as a second murder is committed. And then East Anglia explodes, as peasant rebellion breaks out across the country. The yeoman Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and establishing a vast camp outside Norwich. Soon the rebels have taken over the city, England's second largest. Barak throws in his lot with the rebels; Nicholas, opposed to them, becomes a prisoner in Norwich Castle; while Shardlake has to decide where his ultimate loyalties lie, as government forces in London prepare to march north and destroy the rebels. Meanwhile he discovers that the murder of Edith Boleyn may have connections reaching into both the heart of the rebel camp and of the Norfolk gentry . . .

30 review for Tombland

  1. 4 out of 5

    Annet

    My life will change utterly Since my sinful eyes saw this noble land so much admired... Shardlake is back! So good..... Loved this book, took it slow... Big five stars, loved it! Great history and crime fiction, of the highest quality and entertaining value. Sansom is without doubt a very talented writer and has created a really great series starring the integer hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. And Jack Barak... What can I say... loved it! But man.... 866 pages... is a big book!! Quite difficul My life will change utterly Since my sinful eyes saw this noble land so much admired... Shardlake is back! So good..... Loved this book, took it slow... Big five stars, loved it! Great history and crime fiction, of the highest quality and entertaining value. Sansom is without doubt a very talented writer and has created a really great series starring the integer hunchback lawyer Matthew Shardlake. And Jack Barak... What can I say... loved it! But man.... 866 pages... is a big book!! Quite difficult to read a few pages in bed before going to bed.... More than once I lost control and the book went to the floor.... But... well worth it, well worth it. Although, if I were to have some comment, it would be that maybe a thorough edit would have made the story a bit more sharp and fast paced. But then, I rather liked the pace and the attention to detail. Will return with more as usual. Highly recommended for all you history fiction fans out there! Wish I could continue immediately with the next adventure of Shardlake, in the service maybe of Elizabeth. Important, I would like to wish Mr. Sansom all the best...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Beata

    This long-awaited 7th novel in the Matthew Shardlake series is based around 1549 Kett's Rebellion and a mystery murder which Matthew is asked by the Lady Elizabeth to investigate. As the Author himself admits, the Rebellion is not as famous as the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. We are presented with the reasons behind the rebellion, we meet some historic figures and we get to know how the rebellion progressed. Incredibly interesting! I discovered CJ Sansom many years ago and read all his books as the This long-awaited 7th novel in the Matthew Shardlake series is based around 1549 Kett's Rebellion and a mystery murder which Matthew is asked by the Lady Elizabeth to investigate. As the Author himself admits, the Rebellion is not as famous as the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. We are presented with the reasons behind the rebellion, we meet some historic figures and we get to know how the rebellion progressed. Incredibly interesting! I discovered CJ Sansom many years ago and read all his books as they were published, so I've followed Shardlake for 15 years now ..... it might seem that the same pattern applied in the series would prove boring at some point, which is often the case, but far from that! I thoroughly enjoy learning about history and solving mysteries with Matthew. And I hope there will be more! CJ Sansom gives us historical fiction which is both entertaining and educational.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robert Collins

    Like all his books this is direct follow on from his others this starts in January 1549 when Elizabeth I is only 15. Edward VI who is king in name only as he is only 11 so Seymour ,Duke of Somerset is the real "king" lord Protector . Here once again Lord Richard Rich Lord Chancellor is out to get Shardlake . This set around Peasant uprisings & Sansom points out that last part of the book is all true. In this once again Religious freedom come one of central Points & the pig in the middle is T Like all his books this is direct follow on from his others this starts in January 1549 when Elizabeth I is only 15. Edward VI who is king in name only as he is only 11 so Seymour ,Duke of Somerset is the real "king" lord Protector . Here once again Lord Richard Rich Lord Chancellor is out to get Shardlake . This set around Peasant uprisings & Sansom points out that last part of the book is all true. In this once again Religious freedom come one of central Points & the pig in the middle is The Host .Things are changing no longer are people been executed for not believing in the Truth of the wine & the bread'. This also about Mary who was Queen before Elizabeth & hated her. This about common land, cattle, sheep & farmers but The biggest problem with this is you need to be in the mood to read it. You need to really, really understand that period in History you need to be able to think & feel like The poor bastards of this time. You need to remember that there was beer for breakfast, greasy fatty foods, no health care no clean water. I don't want to sound snobbish but But For some people this crime book is way over their heads I say it is NOT for the casual reader because you spend weeks Googling things. It is for the Shakespeare buff the lover of both pull your hair out crime & The Wolf Hall lovers Lot of mind puzzles, to make you think which what is so good about C J 's books. .I prefer the books as an epileptic & having bad vertigo Specsaves advised me not to use Kindle I found it gave me blinding headache & too much gave me dizziness & very good chance of a fit. So I not be getting one. This very complex but Its full of action, We now coming to the meat of this book the uprising of the Peasants over farming lands this all based on truth .To make the story more than just book about the rebellions he has created a crime mystery & not other way round. The biggest problem with this is that the print is bit small. He has gone to much about Captain Kett & Mouehold Heath that there is little action., it is interesting but Also is bit boring too. He could have cut it down. I find that Nicholas Is like old man Steptoe very Torie yet you would expect him to be for the farmers This has lot of the feel of Barnaby Rudge even down to the mental retarded boy. Rudge was about the corn laws this about open fields both difficult for person today to wonder why anybody would fight over boxing a field in.This too much it is a murder lost in forrest of history , its just too much taking me far too long because it is waffling on. He did not need at least 200ps too much. Not saying it isn't good its so fuck long The end of this book as we were told at the start is all based on true facts and is utterly horrible. A early look at the great division between upper class & lower class. That again blow up in the English Civil war. Unlucky for me I guessed who the murder was lot earlier than was revealed. I also love that he has left the hint of a way he may move on to Elizabethan ages too. But You have read the book to find out I not into spoilers Sweety.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    The essential problem with this book is that it didn't know whether it wanted to be an extended account of the Kett Rebellion told via the characters we all know and love from the series, or a murder mystery. It certainly failed in its aim to be both. The apparent driver of the plot is the surprising discovery of a woman long thought dead. When Edith is found murdered in sickening circumstances, her last port of call at the home of young Elizabeth is cause for concern. Shardlake is dispatched wi The essential problem with this book is that it didn't know whether it wanted to be an extended account of the Kett Rebellion told via the characters we all know and love from the series, or a murder mystery. It certainly failed in its aim to be both. The apparent driver of the plot is the surprising discovery of a woman long thought dead. When Edith is found murdered in sickening circumstances, her last port of call at the home of young Elizabeth is cause for concern. Shardlake is dispatched with conflicting instructions: find out who did it but don't make too much noise. How anyone at this point could imagine he could investigate anything without making enough racket to wake the dead is beyond me, but that's the premise. Essentially though, this gets sidelined by his being swept up in the political and social turmoil of the day, a violent response to land enclosures forming one of many complaints against the nobility and rich landowners, inciting widespread uprisings across England. Now this is a thrilling period of incredible change and importance, but the author loses sight of the main story in his enjoyment of the background. It's not until around 76 per cent that the reader discovers where Edith might have been stashed and the clues to this are dropped so heavily early on that the revelation provokes nothing more than a sigh of relief. The middle was all meetings and scenes of justification for the rebels. And don't even get me started on the the way the brutal ending was contrived to create a perfect set of circumstances for Shardlake to live happily ever after. Each time one part of the story took the focus, the other fell so far from the stage that it practically disappeared, meaning that neither had the appeal it should. I slogged through it and felt the effort of every page. By the end, I couldn't have cared less about either aspect. This is far from his best, but nevertheless works as a way into the ideas and people behind the revolts of the mid 1500s. ARC via Netgalley

  5. 4 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    How I envy those who will read this in October, rather than April, as is the doom of those of us Sansom fans in the United States. ETA: Just ordered from Book Depository! Thanks very much, Hunter. ETA2: And they just refunded me, as were "unable to deliver your order." Back to the drawing board.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    ‘Was there ever such a year as this?’ There was a lot of speculation about whether this book would be completed and I was so hopeful and impatient for it to be. And then, here it was. An enormous tome. It was wonderful and for the first time in this series, about a period and time I knew almost nothing about. Shardlake et al get swept up into the politics and upheaval of Kent’s rebellion, while investigating a case in Norwich. This is a book to savour- the details are so evocative and detailed, s ‘Was there ever such a year as this?’ There was a lot of speculation about whether this book would be completed and I was so hopeful and impatient for it to be. And then, here it was. An enormous tome. It was wonderful and for the first time in this series, about a period and time I knew almost nothing about. Shardlake et al get swept up into the politics and upheaval of Kent’s rebellion, while investigating a case in Norwich. This is a book to savour- the details are so evocative and detailed, so well written, that even when a part of me was huffing and puffing at the actual case seemingly pushed to the side by the rebellion, the descriptions and character portraits of the incidental characters kept me thoroughly absorbed. Let’s hope there’s more to come.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    One of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint - staggeringly good historical fiction, part of a series that finds something new to say about the Tudors. This time it's the rebellions of 1549 during the reign of Edward VI, most particularly in Norwich and Norfolk. Sansom achieves something remarkable - a novel that is so full of historical detail and colour, its descriptions so vivid, that it pays to take your time and visualise what you're reading. It feels like events a One of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint - staggeringly good historical fiction, part of a series that finds something new to say about the Tudors. This time it's the rebellions of 1549 during the reign of Edward VI, most particularly in Norwich and Norfolk. Sansom achieves something remarkable - a novel that is so full of historical detail and colour, its descriptions so vivid, that it pays to take your time and visualise what you're reading. It feels like events are taking place all around you. Brilliant. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Susan Johnson

    It's amazing the things you learn from TV. I was watching Craig Ferguson's late night show one night and he started talking about an amazing author and a great series of books. The author was CJ Sansom and the series was Matthew Shardlake. I followed up his recommendation and I am so glad I did. I love this series and this latest entry is outstanding. Tombland is set in 1549 and Shardlake is given an assignment by Princess Elizabeth. A distant relative of hers is arrested for the murder of his It's amazing the things you learn from TV. I was watching Craig Ferguson's late night show one night and he started talking about an amazing author and a great series of books. The author was CJ Sansom and the series was Matthew Shardlake. I followed up his recommendation and I am so glad I did. I love this series and this latest entry is outstanding. Tombland is set in 1549 and Shardlake is given an assignment by Princess Elizabeth. A distant relative of hers is arrested for the murder of his wife and she wants him to investigate it and, if necessary, give the Protector a request for a pardon for him. Shardlake and his associate, Nicholas, set off for Norwich. The murder is particularly messy. The dead woman has been missing and presumed dead for 9 years. The husband has remarried and now that marriage is invalid. As Shardlake tries to sort out the mess, there is a peasant uprising and he and Nicholas are caught in the middle of it. Also his former associate, Barak, is swept up too. The Kettle uprising is quite famous but I had never heard of it. The Protector of Edward VI has made overtures to the poor that the peasants think he actually means. They decide to get ready for the sweeping changes they think the Protector will actually make (hint-never believe a politician). Shardlake is forced to act as legal adviser for the trials the rebels are holding. There are lots of old and new characters. His former maid, Josephine, and her husband have a role. Shardlake makes lots of new of new friends in the rebel camp. He gains a grudging respect for the Kettle rule and the laws and regulations they have established. They are so much better than what the establishment has to offer. He also makes plenty of unpleasant enemies. This is thoroughly captivating read of an important time in English history. It really makes you examine what could have happened if capable men had been allowed to lead. I found it quite relevant to what is happening now. I was impressed at just how clueless the leaders really were. Princess Mary was so blinded by her own concerns that she thought it was about the English prayer book. Not even close. The Protector was clueless about how angry the peasants were and what his relentless campaign against the Scots was doing to the country. Stupid, stupid people. If you are looking for a nuanced, comprehensive look at history with an interesting mystery then you will love this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thebooktrail

    Visit the settings of Tombland I'm not going to lie. This was a monster of a book even for me. A tomb of a read ironically at over 840 pages. But do you know what? It's CJ Sansom and the time passed quickly as I was sucked into a medieval world of intrigue and murder. There’s a lot to enjoy here, and not just with the plot. Around you as you read, there are battles, conspiracies and talk of royal intrigue. Shardlake has a murder to solve and then another body turns up... The rebellions of 1549 dur Visit the settings of Tombland I'm not going to lie. This was a monster of a book even for me. A tomb of a read ironically at over 840 pages. But do you know what? It's CJ Sansom and the time passed quickly as I was sucked into a medieval world of intrigue and murder. There’s a lot to enjoy here, and not just with the plot. Around you as you read, there are battles, conspiracies and talk of royal intrigue. Shardlake has a murder to solve and then another body turns up... The rebellions of 1549 during the reign of Edward VI are what drives the novel and the events of Tombland in historical Norwich. I had no idea this was a real place but I’ve worn out Google Maps finding out as much as I can about it. I know it so well now - well the 1549 version. How exciting it will be to see the modern day version and Sansom’s version at the same time. There’s a keen sense of chaos in the novel but when you have a king who is only eleven years old...the country is in turmoil and there is religious turmoil as well. No one seems safe. Even everyday life is getting harder as the financial state of the country is in free fall. You get a keen sense of all of this in the novel and it’s like wandering down the streets yourself, the sights, sounds and godforsaken smells all the more real as you walk on. Shardlake works as a lawyer for Henry’s VIII’s daughter Elizabeth and the Boleyn name comes back into play when  a distant relative from Norfolk is found murdered. Of course, Shardlake is the man for the job, but this is unlike anything he has been asked to do before. It’s a very visual novel - from the chaotic market scenes to the cumbersome journeys the characters have to undertake to get to Tombland, the inns they stop at on the way and the cells of Norwich castle....it’s a world of medieval wonder and mixes historical fact, peasant revolt and the true meaning of loyalty. And within all of this, a strong plot worthy of the Shardlake name. Read it slowly, take it in and allow yourself to be submerged into a historically fascinating world.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Richard Pierce

    Where the first six of the Shardlake series were very very good, this is outstanding. It's a towering achievement of a book. Consciously or unconsciously, this is an indictment of the English class system of tgen and now, an indictment of austerity, of politicians, and of Brexit. It also portrays the dilemma of many - support of radical reform mixed with fear of change and loss. Where the previous 6 books were firmly historical fiction anchored in the time described, Tombland is one of those rar Where the first six of the Shardlake series were very very good, this is outstanding. It's a towering achievement of a book. Consciously or unconsciously, this is an indictment of the English class system of tgen and now, an indictment of austerity, of politicians, and of Brexit. It also portrays the dilemma of many - support of radical reform mixed with fear of change and loss. Where the previous 6 books were firmly historical fiction anchored in the time described, Tombland is one of those rare historical novels which draws a dirct line from what was then to what is now. Matthew Shardlake is one of the great protagonists of modern historical fiction.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    An England ripe for rebellion... It’s the summer of 1549, and young King Edward VI is on the throne following the death of Henry VIII two years earlier. Since Edward is still a child, the guardians appointed by Henry have in turn appointed a Protector to rule in his stead, his uncle Edward Seymour. There is great poverty in the towns and cities while, in the farming lands of the north and west, landlords are enclosing common land for their own sheep, fermenting unrest amongst the smallholders and An England ripe for rebellion... It’s the summer of 1549, and young King Edward VI is on the throne following the death of Henry VIII two years earlier. Since Edward is still a child, the guardians appointed by Henry have in turn appointed a Protector to rule in his stead, his uncle Edward Seymour. There is great poverty in the towns and cities while, in the farming lands of the north and west, landlords are enclosing common land for their own sheep, fermenting unrest amongst the smallholders and tenant farmers who relied on that land to eke out their own precarious living. Throw in the usual religious turmoil – the new Book of Common Prayer has just been foisted on a population tired of constant change and with newly developed religious opinions of their own – and an unpopular and unwinnable war against those pesky Scots, and the time is ripe for rebellion. It’s at this moment that Shardlake is summoned by his new patron, Princess Elizabeth, to investigate a murder of which one of her distant Boleyn relatives stands accused. And so he must head for Norwich, a city that will soon be at the heart of the East Anglian rebellion, led by the charismatic Robert Kett... Generally speaking, when I see that a book has 800 pages I groan and run in the opposite direction. But with Sansom, I sigh and wish it was a few hundred pages longer. His ability to create an entirely immersive and believable Tudor world is second to none, partly because his own background as a historian means that the history is accurate. Sure, he manipulates it a little for literary purposes and he uses his imagination to fill in historical blanks, but he never strays far from actual events; and his characters are equally well and credibly depicted, whether they are real or fictional. Matthew Shardlake, as fans know, is a decent man with real empathy for the poor and disadvantaged, so it’s no surprise that this is a sympathetic portrayal of Kett’s Rebellion, showing him and his followers in a light that may be a little more idealistic than was really likely. But I bow to Sansom’s greater knowledge – maybe they did behave as well as he suggests – and I bow even more deeply to his skill in story-telling, because I was happy to buy into the idea of Kett as a principled leader and his followers as mostly disciplined and fair-minded men and women. The bulk of the book is spent with the rebels, as Shardlake and his young assistant Nicholas get caught up in events. Nicholas is a son of a landowner, so has a different opinion from Shardlake initially, although his viewpoint is shaken as he is forced to witness some of the cruelties the poor are forced to suffer at the hands of the ruling class. Sansom uses him, though, to give the other side – to make the case for the landowners. Jack Barak is back, too, coping well after the events of the previous book. Being from lower stock himself, he is naturally drawn to the rebels, so with all three of the companions standing at different heights on the social ladder, it’s unclear whether their friendship will be enough to hold them together when the fighting begins. The murder plot is how the book begins and ends, and it rumbles on as a background to the rebellion plot in the lengthy mid-section, but Sansom never allows it to be lost sight of entirely. John Boleyn, a landowner and distant cousin of Anne Boleyn, stands accused of murdering his first wife, Edith. Edith had left him and disappeared some years earlier, and he had eventually had her declared dead and married again. But now Edith’s newly murdered body has been found, displayed in a sordid fashion near John’s estate. Shardlake must find out where she’s been for the last nine years, and who, other than John and his second wife, might have wanted her dead. The personal lives of the recurring characters are brought up to date, too. Jack’s relationship with his wife Tamasin is rocky, partly because she’s never forgiven Shardlake for the events in the last book (avoiding spoilers, apologies for vagueness). Young Nicholas is of an age to consider marrying and Matthew is concerned that he seems to have set his heart on a woman Matthew thinks is shallow and unworthy of him. Guy is old now and ill, and Matthew fears he may soon lose the man he considers his closest friend. And Matthew himself is feeling rather lonely. The old Queen, Catherine Parr, is dead and Matthew misses her more than a commoner should miss a queen. But he also misses his old servants, many of whom he had taken in as waifs and strays, and who have now grown up and left for lives of their own. So one of the things he wants to do in Norwich is look up his old maidservant Josephine, now married and living in the city. The last time she wrote to him, she was expecting her first child and he’s worried that it’s been some months and he’s heard no more. This is another completely satisfying addition to the series, confirming again my belief that Sansom is the best historical fiction writer certainly today and perhaps ever. He tells his story in a straightforward linear way, without stylistic quirks or “creative” writing, relying instead on creating a great historical setting founded on in-depth research, a strong plot, and a group of brilliantly depicted characters who have all the complexity of real, flawed humanity. Shardlake himself continues to be one of the most appealing characters in fiction – irascible, often lonely, occasionally a little self-pitying, but intelligent, determined, dedicated, charitable and wholeheartedly loyal to those he takes into his generous heart. If I ever stand accused of murder, I hope I have a Shardlake to depend on. A great book in a brilliant series – my highest recommendation! NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Mantle, an imprint of Pan MacMillan. www.fictionfanblog.wordpress.com

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melanie (Mel's Bookland Adventures)

    Looooved it. Next one soon please. Don’t leave me hanging Mr Sansom.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John Wiltshire

    I'm not so much reading this as living through it. Five stars would never be enough to rate this remarkable, superb experience. I've loved every single one of the Shardlake novels. Each one is a masterclass in how to write good historical novels. This one is no exception. The basic story is always a mystery, a crime, which Matthew is called upon to solve. But the solution always gets him mixed up with the wider political events of the day. It's the mix of the normal, everyday people and the grea I'm not so much reading this as living through it. Five stars would never be enough to rate this remarkable, superb experience. I've loved every single one of the Shardlake novels. Each one is a masterclass in how to write good historical novels. This one is no exception. The basic story is always a mystery, a crime, which Matthew is called upon to solve. But the solution always gets him mixed up with the wider political events of the day. It's the mix of the normal, everyday people and the great political movements that make these books so incredibly fascinating. And never once do we get author exposition--the author proving how much research he's done by stuffing it all in. Reading Shardlake is like being there--things are just how they are, natural and quite unaffectedly introduced. These people are just like us: they have the same desires, the same mix of good and bad in them. Sure, they are fighting about whether the transmutation is real or metaphor; they are obsessed with enclosures and the rights of the serfs, but our current issues of multiculturalism and the like will seem just as distant to future readers. Sansom has the ability to make us care, which is the hallmark of a great author. There is a real mystery at the heart of this novel--who killed Edith Boleyn. Edith was a distant relative by marriage of the Lady Elizabeth, Matthew's new employer. Edith had been missing, presumed dead, for nine years before her murder. Where was she during these missing years? Who had motive to kill her on her unexpected return? Her husband, John Boleyn, now remarried, seems the obvious suspect. Elizabeth, however, cannot afford the whiff of scandal his execution would send her way. On arriving in Norwich to begin his enquiries however, Matthew soon realises he's got bigger worries than poor Edith's murder: he's caught up in the middle of a peasants' revolt against the landowners. I'm 60% into this one and wishing it would never end, but as always, I'll update when it inevitably does... Finished. You could not wish for a better reading experience. Do not miss these wonderful, wonderful novels.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Juliet Bookliterati

    Tombland is the most unexpected release for me this year as I thought Lamentation, the sixth book, was the last in his Shardlake Series. This now has to be the most anticipated book of the year for me, and I was very excited to receive a copy to review. Set in 1549, three years after the last book, Tombland sees Matthew Shardlake now working for The Lady Elizabeth as her lawyer. The three years have seen the death of Henry VIII and Catherine Parr, Shardlake's former employer and friend, and the y Tombland is the most unexpected release for me this year as I thought Lamentation, the sixth book, was the last in his Shardlake Series. This now has to be the most anticipated book of the year for me, and I was very excited to receive a copy to review. Set in 1549, three years after the last book, Tombland sees Matthew Shardlake now working for The Lady Elizabeth as her lawyer. The three years have seen the death of Henry VIII and Catherine Parr, Shardlake's former employer and friend, and the young Edward VI on the throne. Whilst some characters have died many of the familiar characters from the previous books return; Jack Barak, Nicholas Overton, Guy, William Cecil and Lord Richard Rich. Shardlake is bored with the legal work of land registration for Lady Elizabeth so jumps at the chance to go to Norfolk to look into the murder of a distant Boleyn relative of Elizabeth to ensure justice is achieved. Set against the peasant rebellions in Norfolk, Tombland is remarkable read, that combines fact and fiction seamlessly. Tombland refers to an area of Norwich where many of the gentleman and wealthy classes resided, and where Shardlake and Overton stay whilst on business in Norfolk. This book has so many layers to it, that weave themselves into a rich tapestry of prose.  Evelyn Boleyn has been murdered in s despicable way and her husband, John Boleyn is arrested for her murder, and Shardlake is charged with making sure the murder is fully investigated and if her relative John Boleyn is found guilty a pardon sent to the young King. Shardlake, Overton and Barak find themselves in Norfolk in a time of unrest, the poor starving due to bad crops and landowners taking common land from the lower classes to graze sheep.  This unrest led to rebellion by the peasants against the gentlemen land owners, with Norwich having the biggest rebellion camp.  Samsom's attention to detail and research brings the the tension between the two factions to life, also the smells and sights of camp life where over five thousand men and women were living: unwashed bodied in close proximity, animal carcass', the fires, food, and the horrors of war. As I have come to expect from C.J. Sansom the characters captivate your attention, and draw you into their lives.  Shardlake is still as dogged in his pursuit of justice at all costs.  He still has his side kick Barack and junior colleague Overton at his side, and meeting them again in this book felt like connecting with old friends.  There were also some memorable new characters including John Boleyn's sadistic twin sons, the corrupt Sir Richard Southwell, tyoung Simon Scrambler and the Kett brothers who were at the centre of the rebellion, all of whom add to the richness of this book, and offer varying viewpoints of the problems in sixteenth century England. Tombland is a large read at eight hundred and fifty pages long, but each of those pages is justified to be there, giving a depth and richness that make this book stand out from others. This really is one of those books that you fall into and almost forget to come up for air, so compelling and immersive is the plot and characters.  For me, C.J.Samsom is the master of Tudor historical fiction,  he brings the voices and atmosphere of the period vividly off the page and into your heart. So much more than just a murder mystery, Tombland is an erudite and brilliant read that builds to a catastrophic finale for all involved; a magnificent read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tanja Berg

    Matthew Shardlake is recruited by Elizabeth to investigate the accusations of murder against her distant relative John Boleyn. He is supposed to have bludgeoned his wife Edith and left her on horrible display. Up in Norwich he is drawn into an uprising from commoners against unfair treatment. This is a very long book with a slack middle. Still, I felt a close connection to Shardlake and his crew. The murder of Edith is quite fascinating. The details of the peasant uprising didn't add all that muc Matthew Shardlake is recruited by Elizabeth to investigate the accusations of murder against her distant relative John Boleyn. He is supposed to have bludgeoned his wife Edith and left her on horrible display. Up in Norwich he is drawn into an uprising from commoners against unfair treatment. This is a very long book with a slack middle. Still, I felt a close connection to Shardlake and his crew. The murder of Edith is quite fascinating. The details of the peasant uprising didn't add all that much to the story, but since it's based on historical facts it was interesting enough. I even teared up a bit at the end.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haworth

    I love all the Shardlake books, and this one fits my bill. Less focused on the Machiavellian world of high politics this is a broader strokes look at the period of history and the turbulent social upheaval, revolts and changing landscape of society as well as still showing the general "Divine Right" of the noble class to be horrific bastards and still expect the world to owe them a living. The book starts with him being sent to deepest Norfolk to investigate a grisly murder of someone long presume I love all the Shardlake books, and this one fits my bill. Less focused on the Machiavellian world of high politics this is a broader strokes look at the period of history and the turbulent social upheaval, revolts and changing landscape of society as well as still showing the general "Divine Right" of the noble class to be horrific bastards and still expect the world to owe them a living. The book starts with him being sent to deepest Norfolk to investigate a grisly murder of someone long presumed dead. Not for justice but because the accused name links to the youthful Princess Elizabeth, and that just can become common knowledge and has to be controlled. The politics change as they reach the countryside, where enclose drives commoners versus nobles, initially via strong words and eventually into a massive rebellion that Shardlake finds himself involved and in the middle, whilst still trying to investigate the murder like a medieval Miss Marple. People die, rebellions happen and the world changes - this feels like history and seems to me as a non scholar as very much a picture of life in this time with a strong plot surrounding, all based on real things that happened and real people that did them. Glorious

  17. 4 out of 5

    Victoria

    I didn't think I would ever get the chance to review a Matthew Shardlake book, I thought the series had finished so to get another one was very exciting I've never been one to shy away from a big book, in fact often the opposite I love nothing more than a big book I can sink my teeth into. But it has to be engaging and that is where this book fell short. The murder often felt totally sidelined by the events of Ketts rebellion, which is something I knew nothing about before reading this book. Alt I didn't think I would ever get the chance to review a Matthew Shardlake book, I thought the series had finished so to get another one was very exciting I've never been one to shy away from a big book, in fact often the opposite I love nothing more than a big book I can sink my teeth into. But it has to be engaging and that is where this book fell short. The murder often felt totally sidelined by the events of Ketts rebellion, which is something I knew nothing about before reading this book. Although the events of the rebellion are interesting they are not what I came to this book looking for, and for long passages the narrative simply dragged. The events surrounding the murder just felt like they where crammed in at the very end, like the author had remembered about the murder and had to tie up events very quickly I enjoyed meeting familiar faces again, especially Matthew the protagonist but in this one it felt like he was less of himself. Content a lot of the way to allow things to happen to him rather than striving to enact the changes he wanted to see in the books before. While I understand this based on where he found himself it still grated to watch him just allow others to make all his decisions for him rather than stand up for himself Overall disappointing. I hope if we get another book it doesn't take as long, and is better than this one

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tracey Sinclair

    Well-written as ever, but SO long. The first 400 pages are concerned with the murder mystery, then it segues into being more a historical novel covering a rebellion for the next 350 pages or so, so it takes nearly 800 pages to solve a fairly simple murder mystery. The historical story itself is compelling, and the murder fairly so, but it falls badly between two stools, and could have done with being significantly shorter.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Debs Carey

    I was really looking forward to this one, fearing that the Shardlake tales would end with the death of Henry VIII. I don't know whether there was too much anticipation, but I found myself speed reading too many sections for this to warrant more than 3 stars. Young Edward is on the throne with a committee of nobles doing the actual governing. Mary is next in line, with Elizabeth simply a Lady. Shardlake is bored doing property work and so responds to a call from Lady Elizabeth's adviser. This draw I was really looking forward to this one, fearing that the Shardlake tales would end with the death of Henry VIII. I don't know whether there was too much anticipation, but I found myself speed reading too many sections for this to warrant more than 3 stars. Young Edward is on the throne with a committee of nobles doing the actual governing. Mary is next in line, with Elizabeth simply a Lady. Shardlake is bored doing property work and so responds to a call from Lady Elizabeth's adviser. This draws him in to one of the regional uprisings where he finds his sympathy more with the worker rebels than the land-owning gentleman class. Whilst this does set us up for more Shardlake novels to come, I may not rush to pay full price for the next one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback This latest chapter in the Shardlake series takes place two years after the death of Henry VIII with Henry’s eleven year old son now king, but his uncle is actually the one running the country. In the summer of 1549 England is descending into chaos, the religious reforms are still proving to be unpopular, the latest war with Scotland is proving to be a disaster, but the biggest cause of discontent among t I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback This latest chapter in the Shardlake series takes place two years after the death of Henry VIII with Henry’s eleven year old son now king, but his uncle is actually the one running the country. In the summer of 1549 England is descending into chaos, the religious reforms are still proving to be unpopular, the latest war with Scotland is proving to be a disaster, but the biggest cause of discontent among the people is the rising inflation and collapsing economy. With landowners forcing their tenants off the land and enclosing common land in the hopes of making more money from sheep farming the country is ripe for rebellion. Since Henry’s death, Shardlake has been in the service of the Lady Elizabeth, when a distant relative of Elizabeth’s is charged with murder Shardlake and his assistant Nicholas are sent to Norwich to investigate. There they are reunited with Shardlake’s former assistant Jack Barak who has been working for lawyers involved with the summer assizes. While they are investigating the murder peasant rebellion breaks out across the country, and in East Anglia Robert Kett leads a force of thousands in overthrowing the landlords and taking over the city of Norwich. After being taken to the camp Shardlake, Barak and Nicholas must decide whose side they are on, all the while trying to find out who was responsible for the murder. Extremely well written and an engaging read. Was it an accurate description of the events? I have no idea, to my shame this was an event that I knew absolutely nothing about, but to my mind a good historical novel should have you reaching for non-fiction books about the time period.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Williams

    I have been a great fan of the Shardlake books and this may be the best yet. It is a massive work of over 800 pages. When you have finished it can be used as a doorstop! This is set in the reign of Edward VI and the Protector Edward Seymour. Shardlake is doing work for the Lady Elizabeth on land issues when he is summoned by her and instructed to investigate the murder charge in Norwich against her distant relative John Boleyn. On reaching Norwich Shardlake meets up quickly with his old associate I have been a great fan of the Shardlake books and this may be the best yet. It is a massive work of over 800 pages. When you have finished it can be used as a doorstop! This is set in the reign of Edward VI and the Protector Edward Seymour. Shardlake is doing work for the Lady Elizabeth on land issues when he is summoned by her and instructed to investigate the murder charge in Norwich against her distant relative John Boleyn. On reaching Norwich Shardlake meets up quickly with his old associate Barak and gets involved unintentionally in the Kett rebellion. I have to say I had never heard of this before but, at this time, uprisings by the common people were occurring all over the South and South-West of England and this was the largest and most successful. The way the real events of history intertwine with the main plot are very well done and I found this a very easy to read (apart from the sheer weight of the book) despite the great length. Excellent in every way.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    Wow. Just wow. This is, quite simply, the best book of this fantastic series of and one of the best I have ever read. I savoured every single word and took my time reading it as I didn’t want it to end. I just love Matthew. This time Matthew, Nicholas and Barak are caught up in the rebellion of 1549, as they are in Wymondham, Norfolk, investing a case, and are captured by the rebels. I knew nothing of Robert Kett and the terrible events which took place during this time but, as always with this t Wow. Just wow. This is, quite simply, the best book of this fantastic series of and one of the best I have ever read. I savoured every single word and took my time reading it as I didn’t want it to end. I just love Matthew. This time Matthew, Nicholas and Barak are caught up in the rebellion of 1549, as they are in Wymondham, Norfolk, investing a case, and are captured by the rebels. I knew nothing of Robert Kett and the terrible events which took place during this time but, as always with this terrific author, the attention to detail and research is breathtakingly meticulous and I am now aware of what happened and history should reflect this. I simply loved Simon Scrambler and Natty and thought they were brilliant characters. I cried like a baby during various points during the battles and the terrible deaths of beloved characters. At 800 pages it’s everything I love, especially by one of my favourite authors, and I was completely bereft when i finally turned the last page. I will never forget this book, Matthew, Barak and Guy. Magnificent

  23. 5 out of 5

    Inger Strand

    One of those books that takes time to read, and I love it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Coonan

    3.5 stars. Descriptive and well researched but at times repetitive and drawn out. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the early books in the series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Janina Barlow

    An epic of a book sees central character Matthew Shardlake caught up in the 1549 Ketts a rebellion. Meticulously researched and wonderfully written.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    Brilliant! Utterly brilliant! No-one evokes the sights, sounds, smells, politics, and violence of Tudor England like C.J. Sansom. And the other thing he does so well is take a real historical event - in this book, Kett's Rebellion in Norwich, Norfolk in 1549 - and weave a story around it which involves not just his fictional characters but real-life historical figures as well. In this book, the principled but ultimately doomed Robert Kett and the ruthless Earl of Warwick are two stand-out exampl Brilliant! Utterly brilliant! No-one evokes the sights, sounds, smells, politics, and violence of Tudor England like C.J. Sansom. And the other thing he does so well is take a real historical event - in this book, Kett's Rebellion in Norwich, Norfolk in 1549 - and weave a story around it which involves not just his fictional characters but real-life historical figures as well. In this book, the principled but ultimately doomed Robert Kett and the ruthless Earl of Warwick are two stand-out examples. The various battle scenes are brilliantly portrayed but it's the detail that you cannot help but admire. For example, there's a scene where a captured mercenary is hanged by the rebels against Kett's orders - that apparently actually happened. And there's another scene where a character is killed after bearing his backside to the King's Herald and his death effectively ended all negotiation and all prospect of a bloodless end - that too actually happened. And let's not forget Matthew Shardlake who is a completely real and believable character. I only hope that the Folio Society sometime soon decides to publish Dissolution but, ideally, all the Shardlake books. I started reading this on the train to London the day I took Harrison and Jake to watch Arsenal v. Leicester at the Emirates.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alteredego

    Tombland is CJ Sansom’s seventh Shardlake novel, and the first set after the death of Henry 8th. Boy king, Edward VI has ascended to the throne, but a troubled England is, in reality, ruled over by his uncle, Thomas Seymour, Protector. The kingdom is fighting a pointless and losing war against Scotland whilst facing internal divisions as the poor and dispossessed rise up against enclosure of common land by brutal landlords. Against this background, hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, is summo Tombland is CJ Sansom’s seventh Shardlake novel, and the first set after the death of Henry 8th. Boy king, Edward VI has ascended to the throne, but a troubled England is, in reality, ruled over by his uncle, Thomas Seymour, Protector. The kingdom is fighting a pointless and losing war against Scotland whilst facing internal divisions as the poor and dispossessed rise up against enclosure of common land by brutal landlords. Against this background, hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, is summoned by his new patron, the Lady Elizabeth to investigate a murder, of which her distant relative, John Boleyn, has been accused. Shardlake travels to Norwich with his assistants Nicholas Overton and Toby Lockswood to look into a gruesome killing where the victim was left half naked, head buried in a muddy stream. There he meets up with his old assistant, Barak, and serving woman, Josephine. The case leaves Shardlake baffled as he is confronted by a multitude of suspects, walls of silence and contradictory evidence. The accused husband of the dead woman, whom Shardlake has been sent to defend, seems to be lying about his alibi. The victim’s psychotic father and equally unbalanced sons are violently opposed to the investigation, and above all there is the mystery of where she disappeared to for nine years between abandoning her husband and appearing murdered in the stream After an increasingly serious string of setbacks, Shardlake appears on the verge of starting to make progress when Norfolk erupts in rebellion. The revolutionaries, led by the charismatic Robert Kett, believe they are acting in support of Protector Seymour whose pronouncements suggest his intention of curbing the excesses of the landowners. Shardlake, Overton and Barak are captured by the rebels, with Toby becoming an enthusiastic participant. From this point, the nature of the book changes abruptly from being a detective to being a fictionalised reconstruction of an actual historic event. As the rebellion develops and builds to its inevitably violent conclusion, Barak, Shardlake and Overton find their allegiances shifting. Shardlake becomes a lawyer to the rebels, initially pressed, but increasingly sympathetic to the cause, he assists Kett in ensuring that the trials of nobles are conducted according to due process. Two of the weakest novels in the Shardlake series are Sovereign and Heartstone, in which Sansom struggles to embed his detective stories into real historical events in a credible fashion. He seems more interested in bringing the results of his research to the page than in writing an engaging and believable story. Tombland fares better. While the sudden switch from detective to historical fiction impairs the smoothness and cohesion of the overall book, this is much more of a satisfying story. That is possibly because the Norwich rebellion is, in itself, a more compelling story that those portrayed in the earlier works - Henry VIII travels to York; a ship famously sinks. I have also, in the past, felt that Sansom lets historical detail get in the way of narrative speed. While there are some points at the end of the first section as the trial of John Boleyn comes to its climax where it gets bogged down overall this is a definite page turner which maintains an exciting momentum. There is the odd wrong note as the story comes to its conclusion. The reveal of the culprit relies a little too much on the presence of Basil Exposition, as the murderer himself, in Bond-villain fashion, explains the details of the crime before giving Shardlake opportunity to escape. Also Shardlake’s survival at the end stretches credibility close to breaking point. That said, with our hero surrounded by new enemies, but also with a new family to care for, Sansom is clearly gearing up for further novels. Historical fiction often reflects more about the time at which it is written, than when it is set. That is certainly the case here, as an account of a bitterly divided Britain, with populist leaders holding sway, this is definitely a peri-Brexit book. Overall, this is no great work of literature, but that is not what it is trying to achieve. As a well-researched historical detective story/thriller it generally succeeds.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    There are a handful of fine authors that always deliver the goods, especially when continuing an established series. No need to pore over countless reviews on various sites, read an excerpt or listen to a sample before parting with my money - I‘ll just click ‘pre-order’ as soon as I discover that the next installment even exists. CJ Sansom and his Shardlake series belong firmly in that category. Return here for finely woven stories and painstaking research but most importantly a character that y There are a handful of fine authors that always deliver the goods, especially when continuing an established series. No need to pore over countless reviews on various sites, read an excerpt or listen to a sample before parting with my money - I‘ll just click ‘pre-order’ as soon as I discover that the next installment even exists. CJ Sansom and his Shardlake series belong firmly in that category. Return here for finely woven stories and painstaking research but most importantly a character that you want to spend time with over and over again. Each new book is like a hug from an old friend. Tombland is an exceptional novel; all of the Shardlake stories are excellent but I found the specific time setting for this book to be particularly compelling. England is a country in crisis. The nation has endured political and religious upheavals inflicted on them by a sovereign driven more by his ego and libido than the good of his subjects. Now a solemn child sits on the throne and his uncle holds the reins of power. A scrappy but long-winded campaign against Scotland has drained the national coffers and the coinage has been debased more than once. Rich landowners are evicting rural families, replacing crops with sheep bred for their lucrative wool. Food is scarce and prices are high. All of these factors lead to a populace at boiling point, rebels are sweeping the land and scooping up anyone they encounter. Dear Master Shardlake often lands himself in hot water whilst doing the honourable thing but this time he is kept simmering for almost half the book. As always there is a multi-faceted murder mystery to be solved at the behest of an important patron (in this case the young Lady Elizabeth). Also, a retinue of colourful characters including those of the ‘boo-hiss’ pantomime variety (here some deliciously vile twins and their hateful grandfather join the self-interested courtiers on the naughty list). However, for me the strength of this novel lies in the way Sansom brings the plight of the average Englander to life. We cannot help but empathise with the rebels just as Matthew surely does, at the same time we worry about the consequences of his involvement with them. This book truly gives the reader insight into this dark period of English history. I wish I could say that we have come a long way since then but that wouldn’t be the whole truth. What is true is that CJ Sansom is a wonderful writer who will hopefully keep me clicking the ‘pre-order’ button for many years to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This seventh book in the Shardlake series may very well be the best of the lot. At 800 pages not including the closing essay and references it is a big old tome, and yet feels not half that length given the pace Sansom moves the story at. The series thus far has taken in Tudor London, York and Portsmouth; much of this book takes place in and around Norwich in the period of Edward VI. As usual there is a murder mystery at the heart of the narrative which spirals into something much bigger than Ma This seventh book in the Shardlake series may very well be the best of the lot. At 800 pages not including the closing essay and references it is a big old tome, and yet feels not half that length given the pace Sansom moves the story at. The series thus far has taken in Tudor London, York and Portsmouth; much of this book takes place in and around Norwich in the period of Edward VI. As usual there is a murder mystery at the heart of the narrative which spirals into something much bigger than Matthew Shardlake hopes, pulling in political friends and enemies of high stature in the realm. The backdrop that this is set against makes this book unique in the Shardlake series as it incorporates a full scale peasant rebellion; specifically Kett's rebellion during a widespread period of turmoil in opposition to land enclosures by the gentlemanly class of England. The poor are lead to believe that Lord Somerset is in sympathy with them, and that their rebellion will be received warmly by the Protector, governing as de facto leader during Edward VI's minority. The structure of getting from word being spread to full scale revolt is expertly managed by the author; not least as it draws on elements it is easy to sympathise with in today's world. For the characters, their wills are tested and some transition one way, some others in the ensuing conflict; the arc of the character Nicholas, Shardlake's assistant is particularly well handled. Unlike some stories of war and rebellion women are not missing from this story but their dual trial of being part of the resentful peasant class and the suffering they endure as their husbands go to fight is told with great care; at the end we see that life is not all rosy for gentlewoman class either. This is a terrific tale of intrigue, treachery, passion, sin and war with all its despicable outcomes and behaviours.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Lacer

    Phew Tombland is long! I mainly listened to the audiobook version (I also have it on Kindle) and it took me almost a month. It’s the latest in the Shardlake series, about a lawyer, now in the reign of King Edward. Shardlake now works for the Lady Elizabeth and is trying to lead a simple life when he is asked to investigate a murder involving a distant relative in Norfolk. Shardlake goes to investigate and this bit did sometimes drag, I didn’t care ‘that’ much about land disputes between the Norf Phew Tombland is long! I mainly listened to the audiobook version (I also have it on Kindle) and it took me almost a month. It’s the latest in the Shardlake series, about a lawyer, now in the reign of King Edward. Shardlake now works for the Lady Elizabeth and is trying to lead a simple life when he is asked to investigate a murder involving a distant relative in Norfolk. Shardlake goes to investigate and this bit did sometimes drag, I didn’t care ‘that’ much about land disputes between the Norfolk gentry. But when Shardlake and his companions get captured by a group of Norfolk rebels, things get really interesting. Based on the real life rebellion at Norwich (and elsewhere), the story covered a period of history I didn’t know much about (and I’m from Norfolk), I vaguely remember hearing about it but I had no idea about what it was about or what happened. Although it’s easy to be sympathetic towards the rebels now, I thought Sansom handled the whole thing beautifully, really getting into how the rebels felt. The prelude to the battle scenes and the battles themselves, were really moving. I also like how Sansom imagined what it might be like to be an autistic boy in that area, with one of his characters being sensitively portrayed. He also touched upon something else (a spoiler) sensitively too, I think. I hope that Sansom writes more Shardlake, I know that it took him a while to write this one, all that research going into this doorstop of a book plus he was ill. It definitely sounds, in the book that Sansom wants to continue, there are two new characters that I’m desperate to find out more about and I loved how Nicholas’ character progressed in this, so I want to see what happens next for him too.

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