Character Connection: Matthew Shardlake

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Character Connection

Don’t you just love larger-than-life characters? The ones who jump off the page and grab you? Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t be indifferent to them.

I would love to know about the characters who just won’t leave you! Most of you will probably post about how much you love (or loathe) each character, but this is a great place for the more creative ones among you to let go and have fun! Write yourself into a scene with Anne and Diana. Write a love poem in elvish for Aragorn. Draw a picture of Harry obliterating Voldemort. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Mr. Linky will be posted here on The Introverted Reader every Thursday.

My almost-total immersion in George R. R. Martin’s world of A Song of Ice and Fire (I’m watching Game of Thrones and reading A Storm of Swords) has me thinking a lot about Tyrion Lannister. I’ve already written about him though, so I’ll move on to another misshapen character I love. Matthew Shardlake from the series by C. J. Sansom.

Matthew Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer who has gotten tangled up in the very, very, very edges of the Henry VIII drama. Who doesn’t love reading about Tudor times, even if it’s not really about the Tudors themselves?

Matthew Shardlake is a great lawyer with a good heart and a strong sense of right and wrong. As is true in fiction as well as in real life, no one sees past his crooked exterior to see the man inside.


He tends to be glum and introspective. He doesn’t generally feel sorry for himself, but he does have his moments. He doesn’t dwell on it often, but it’s easy to see that he wants someone to see past his appearance and love him for who he is. He desperately wants to love someone. He opens up a few times (I’ve only read the first three in his series) and takes a chance on getting hurt. How much easier would it be to just withdraw from the world and give up on ever finding that kind of happiness? But he’s brave enough to get out there and try.

He does try to keep a hard exterior shell, but a few assistants have broken through. (Stay tuned; there might be a post about one of them in the future)

In the first book, Dissolution, Shardlake is investigating a murder at a monastery. At the beginning, he is a firm believer in the Reformation, but such close exposure to both the monks and the Reformers causes him to question his beliefs. At least he has the nerve to ask the questions. So many people, both in fiction and  real life, just dig in their heels when confronted with something that causes them to ask questions and then hide their heads in the sand.

Who did you connect with this week? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop’s, my local independent bookstore, and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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  1. +JMJ+

    I gave up and rewrote the post. =P The original link still works. I hope you can check it out, Jen.

    In case you didn't see my original comment about Matthew, I said that I love characters who can balance a clear sense of right and wrong with a flexibility that allows their beliefs to be challenged. They're great because they understand that right and wrong aren't arbitrarily decided by individuals (especially not themselves) but are much bigger than that.

  2. +JMJ+

    It's great that your post came back! I'm still waiting for my own Character Connection to be restored. As of now, anyone clicking on the link I left will be told the page "doesn't exist" . . . but I have full faith in Blogger!

  3. +JMJ+

    He sounds very interesting. I like it when characters who have a strong sense of right and wrong are also mentally flexible enough to let their deepest beliefs be challenged.

    My Character Connection this week is another mother from children's literature. I hope you like it. =)

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