I went into this book (a Christmas gift) with low expectations, expecting only a shabby period thriller. I was more than pleasantly surprised -- I could hardly put it down over the few days it took to read. It's a thoughtful, quality story with good historical research behind it (although in reality wasn't poor Mark Smeaton hanged, drawn and quartered, not beheaded?), moral dilemmas that aren't black and white, and a couple of likeable protagonists who are both brave and fearful, certain and uncertain (Sansom tracks adolescent sullenness and impulsiveness in the young assistant so well I laughed more than once, recognizing a few real-life teenagers). The plot is clever, although the ending is a bit pat. I rolled my eyes during that final big struggle -- something out of an old movie. Indeed, at times I had the feeling I was reading the draft of a screenplay. That cuts both ways -- it means the book is highly visual, but lacks some of the depth and diversions you might like. Think, for example, of Eco's gloriously detailed description of the tympanum in "Name of the Rose." That sort of thing, to me, makes great historical literature. Sansom does not write "Dissolution" in that league, but nonetheless if you like Eco you'll very probably like this too. If Sansom publishes another novel, I'll be near the front of the line to buy it. Overall, a highly enjoyable read.