There are few more pleasurable things than to find an author you have not read before, and then find you have just read the first book in a series and there are more to follow! I’m not talking about how I hope my readers will feel about my Radwinter books, but about C.J. Sansom and his Shardlake series. I am not a big fan of historical fiction normally – although I am a very big fan of history books… however, Sansom tells such a great tale, he interweaves historical facts so cleverly and seamlessly into his plots, that I was just carried along by the great characters, the intricate and yet understandable twists and turns of the plot, the settings, the history…
His novels are set in the troubled and very dangerous reign of Henry VIII, and the main character is a lawyer, Shardlake. In essence the novels are crime fiction, but there is intrigue, espionage, religion, romance… and above all they are a cracking read!
I read the first one, Dissolution, and then went straight out and bought the next two, Dark Fire and Sovereign. As soon as Revelation was published I bought it, and then the one which I consider his masterpiece (so far) Heartstone. Now I have just begun reading his latest novel, Lamentation.
As I’m reading this one however, I am thinking about it in a different way; as I have mentioned it is the latest in a series of six, so for many people they will have read the other five and know who Shardlake and the other characters are, and also know his history. But… but there will be many other readers for whom this is the first book about the lawyer that they have ever read. The author has to balance making it clear and understandable to his new readers, to explain who everyone is and what their personal situations are, and yet not have great lumps of exposition to bore his customary readers. Within that explanation, he also has to make sure he doesn’t spoil any of the surprises and unexpected events in the previous book by giving too much away to his new readers… I difficult balance!
I mentioned, humbly I hope, my books, because I published my first ever sequel in June, and now I am writing the third part of what has become a trilogy. I am not comparing myself to Sansom at all; he is a great author and published in real books by publishers, whereas I self-publish on Amazon, however, I am confronting the same difficulties as any author does when writing part of a series… so reading Lamentation is fascinating for me – as a writer and as a reader!