Sergei and Mike work for two very different militaries Think the US military vs the Soviet military at the height of the cold war. Mike seduces Sergei but soon falls for him. What makes this book so good and so unusual is its exploration of the mixture of betrayal and love and the complex motivations of all the characters. It works and it works well.
Mike's character is perhaps a little thin, but the authors do a really great job with Sergei, getting you to understand his world and his love for it even though it constrains him terribly.
There are several EXTREMELY graphic sex scenes. Frankly, as a big believer in less is more, they could have been toned down for me.
This book gets better and better is it progresses. It is an excellent and deceptively complex story. I highly recommend it.
The installment takes place mostly during Henry VIII's great "passage" to York in which he went, with 3000 of his courtiers and soldiers, on a tour of Northern England to impress and cow the locals.
Sansom has done a superb job recreating this world. One of the best aspects for me is Sansom's ability to reconstruct how these people thought. It is hard for us, at this distance, to understand the role of religion and the monarchy in most people's lives in 1540. Sansom gives us not only the details of this world but an insight into the emotional and philosophical life of 1540.
Henry VIII appears briefly, memorably and frighteningly; Henry's fundamental smallness is conveyed with deft skill.
It's a great mystery that is different from the first two books. Unlike so many authors, Sansom does not simply re travel worn trails.
The book is not perfect; some characters do tend towards stereotype, but even then those characters ring essentially true.
Without revealing too much, there is an appalling visit to the Tower of London that will make you most glad to be alive today and not in 1540.
The narration is superb.
It's a great listen; you will not be disappointed.
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