Dissolution (Matthew Shardlake, #1) Dissolution discussion


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Brilliant book with 2 flaws.

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message 1: by Garry (new)

Garry Lee This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen.
Second flaw. How could the chief protagonist, an intelligent lawyer, NOT see that Thomas Cromwell and Henry 8th were total raving psychopaths?? Henry was no more than an animal and TC would do anything whatsoever to stay in power.
But as a mystery, as good as you'll get


message 2: by Theresa (new) - added it

Theresa Personally, I saw it more as a rewrite of 'In the Name of the Rose'


Zulfiya I think this is a good book for what it is - it is the first book by the author, and you do not expect it to be perfect in all aspects. Authors often use the revealed confession as a part of the plot twist. I can not pass a judgement here (I am agnostic, and I am secular in my lifestyle), but it is the world of fiction, so accept it that there was a clergymen who could not do his job. I am not trying to accuse anyone, but even if child abuse is a true story in modern-day Catholic church, why can we not accept the fact that the Abbot discussed the confession facts with the narrator - after all, it is just a work of fiction.
The main character is the biggest achievement in the novel - the way he is in a total and deep denial about what Thomas Cromwell intends to do, and then step-by-step gradual understanding and self- enlightenment is one of the most HUMANE moments of the book.
And, yes, it is true - in its setting the book might resemble Eco's masterpiece, but the themes are so much different.
Anyway, I truly enjoyed it.


message 4: by V C (new) - rated it 4 stars

V C Willow I really loved this book and have read two more in the Shardlake series. Although this is the finest so far that I have read (I felt dark fire dragged a little and didn't have enough of guy in it) I enthusiastically enjoyed and recommended the others to my friend who also read and loved them. I'll definitely read the others in the series. Good historical murder mysteries. Though to be honest you'd think anyone who knew him would give him a wide berth since everywhere he goes his life is in danger!!!!


Nick Garry wrote: "This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen.
..."


I think you're betraying you're own idealism when it comes to the church, especially during the time of the dissolution. One of the big triggers that made the split of the church of England possible was the growing discontent, within a segment of the population, with the management of the church itself. Priests, particularly monastic priests, were often corrupt and decadent. Many lived rich and comfortable lives thanks to noble endowments and the selling of indulgences.

It's also interesting that the idea of the abbot, a character portrayed as having a very weak character anyway, breaking the sanctity of confession raises your ire, yet the idea that some of the monks were indulging in the pleasures of the flesh (something that is not unknown even today) did not. Priests are just people, they try to hold themselves to a particular standard and sometimes they fail to make it. Given the circumstances, the idea that the abbot would break confession doesn't seem the least unlikely.

As for Shardlake's ignorance of Cromwell and Henry, he beats himself up over his naivety to the point of losing his faith over the next few books for that very reason. You must remember that he was one of the original group that pushed reform within the country, he was idealistic and saw it all through rose-coloured glasses. Cromwell himself started off exactly like Shardlake, but whilst Cromwell was pragmatic and did what he thought was necessary, Shardlake remained idealistic and refused to admit even to himself what was going on around him.

This was an excellent book and though I haven't enjoyed the following ones as much, they are well worth the read as well.

I suspect Sansom is not as ignorant of the Catholic church as you think.


Gordon Bailey Nick wrote: "Garry wrote: "This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never e..."

I have just read your views on dissolution and must say that I agree with you one hundred percent. also what had to be taken into account, was that Shardlake carried the seal of authority; issued by Cromwell empowering him to question and interrogate the monks any which he wanted. At the end of the day he was trying to get to the bottom of a murder. I have read all of Sansom's books and other author's that have written about this period in time, and to me it would seem that because of the religious power struggle of the period; most of the heads of the various religious sects looked after their own interest's and because of that, they would in my opinion bow down to who ever they feared the most, regardless of the religious hell and damnation that could befall them, just like the religious bodies today MONEY and GREED are the only things one should worry about.
Just as a point of interest have you read WOLF HALL by Hillary Mantel, this is another book showing the power struggle behind the scean with many twists and turns a really good book.


Alison Garry wrote: "This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen.
..."


Thinking of Henry and TC as psycopaths is a modern sense of their actions. At the time they were no more ruthless than any other politician or monarch in Europe. Henry was an absolute monarch and could do exactly what he wanted - and he did. However, many people allowed Henry and TC to act in their ruthless way because it was in their interest to do so - they got land and money out of agreeing to the dissolution of the monastries.
As far as the sanctity of confession - I think Sansom was showing how corrupt the Church had become - Shardlake was a new thinker and so would not have valued the idea of confession anyway and would not have been surprised at the fact that the priest would have betrayed the confession of another - it would have just confirmed his contempt ofthe old church.


Stuart Brandwood I agree, I am a Catholic and the whole thing sets the backdrop for the reformation...the malaise and corruption in the monasteries. Matthew would have been swept up in all that zeal for reform. I think it's an excellent book


Elisa Santos To me, the sanctity of confession broken was the natural follow up of 2 events: the presence of authority in the person of Shardlake, who carried TC seal of aproval, carte-blanche if you will and because the of the corruption within the Church itself. It didn´t strike me as odd, at all.

I read this very same book not long ago and loved it for many reasons: the time period that i am fascinated about and the fact that the book and the series revolve around a man that, at the time,would be seen as carrying "the mark of the Devil" because of his hunchback. Had he been born poor he would have had to earn his life in the freak-shows, he would be an indigent; as it is, Samson made him a wealthy person, a lawier, so people could think bad of him but would not put him aside because of the way he looked and plus: they had to be respectfull. Samson made a hero out of someone that, at the time in question, would be left out of the world - very clever of him!


message 10: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Rodda It must be a big ask, writing a book like Sansom's which relies on such depth of research and still gallops along as a page-turner! I've only recently come across another as good - DISTANT THUNDER by T.D.Griggs, set in the 1890s. Both are brilliant reads.


Amelia I thought this book was going to be really good, but I was greatly disappointed. I found it greatly inaccurate as mentioned in the posts of others. More research should have been carried out on the author's part.


message 12: by Nick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Nick Morris I was disappointed too. The Name of the Rose is a much too obvious reference point - and a much better book.


message 13: by D (last edited Mar 18, 2013 11:28AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

D Cox I thought that actually his rose tinted specs with regards to Cromwell were slipping off when he heard about tortured confessions. Then at the end he re-visited him and was surprised by things he hadn't realised about him before. Reformation a good and noble cause but at what cost.

This was my first historic fiction book and I quite liked it. Very atmospheric.
I don't really care about historical innacuracies.


message 14: by Anna (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna Kļaviņa Garry wrote: "This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen.
Second flaw. How could the chief protagonist, an intelligent lawyer, NOT see that Thomas Cromwell and Henry 8th were total raving psychopaths?? Henry was no more than an animal and TC would do anything whatsoever to stay in power.
But as a mystery, as good as you'll get "


Don't make me laugh.
The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession[...]Such a thing would never ever happen.
OK, it might never happened in La-la land, but in real life?


Cheryl I am not a Catholic but I do know about the sanctity of a confession! I have read all the Shardlake books and I have found them all well written and researched. Please give the author some respect.


Jacklin Murray I don't think the sanctity of the confession rated so highly in Henry's time when everyone was covering their own back! I've read all the Shardake books and loved them all.


Julie "The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen."

Really? REALLY? lol

I suppose the Abbot/monks didn't father children, didn't have sexual relationships, didn't use animal blood in their "weeping Jesus/Mary" statues, didn't charge for their "miracles", didn't stash away great fortunes.... this would betray the readers ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen."

I mean what's a little repeating of what's said in the confessional compared to the above eh? ;p


message 18: by Garry (new)

Garry Lee As a delayed response to the above, firstly I'm an atheist. Secondly I know my Catholicism. The seal of the confessional was always regarded as sacrosanct. Priests having sex etc., was always going on, and indeed still is . "Reforming" the monasteries was an excuse for seizing their wealth. Not everyone was like Henry VIII in his time. During his reign about 70,000 people died. That's more than were executed by the Inquisition in all its history by a factor of TWENTY THREE. Henry VIII was the monster of his day and Cromwell his axe.


message 19: by Elisa Santos (last edited Oct 19, 2013 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Elisa Santos The sanctity os confessions could may well be forgetten of there was something to be gained from it, and when you have a time when the least suspition about your loyalty might drive you to the stake, you may well expect this kind of intrigue.

Like someone said earlier, if priests, monks and even Popes kept strictly to the good book, they would not father children, have sex, abuse children at their care, sell indulgences and so on and so forth, so i don´t see were the big question is.

The books are good and the stories well written.


message 20: by Garry (new)

Garry Lee The books are brilliant but the comment about confession is just wrong. It's equivalent to Henry VIII being described as effeminate or Cromwell being a softie. Whatever about their sexual behaviour, the seal of confession was regarded as inviolable. It was like sanctuary in a church in previous times.


Jerrie Brock As a Catholic, and knowing many priests, I do know that the confessional was considered completely confidential. And as a realist, I also know that priests are human, so the idea that they all followed all the tenets to a tee, is probably a little dubious at best. And I think like all new ideas, people jump on board because they want change, without truly knowing all the things that may happen or go wrong. Two come to mind, Hitler, who did start out doing great things to improve Germany, and a health care plan in America that promised to be better and less expensive for everyone.


message 22: by Penny (last edited Nov 12, 2013 03:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Penny Garry wrote: "This was a brilliant whodunit.
2 flaws. The Abbot casually discusses what someone told him in confession. This betrays the authors ignorance of Catholicism. Such a thing would never ever happen.
Se..."


The Abbot may have casually discussed what someone told him in confession, but did he actually say whose confession?
Also I think EVERYONE could see that Henry was a raving psychopath including Thomas Cromwell, but they were very dangerous times to say anything untoward, you would have been imprisoned for treason or killed for the tiniest slights to the kings ego. So you did as you were told, to hang onto your head!!
So slightly weak comments I would have said.


message 23: by Garry (new)

Garry Lee He discusses particular confessions. The point about the king being a psychopath does not appear to occur to Shardlake..


message 24: by Ray (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ray Agree about the confession bit, just seemed wrong BUT I have read all of Sansom's books and I really really rate this guy.


message 25: by Garry (new)

Garry Lee I agree, he's a great writer


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