The Evening and the Morning: The Prequel to The Pillars of the Earth Paperback
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"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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The story is still entertaining, and it's a nice dip back into the world of Kingsbridge, where everything is soothingly familiar. I enjoyed reading it.
What I did not enjoy reading is a middle-aged male author's attempt at writing women, where they are either greedy, base creatures doing their usual womanly wiley things, or sympathetic, take-charge smart people where, except for their well-described large bosoms, they might as well be a man. Follett in particular excels at writing rape/sex scenes where it is painfully clear, that Follett is not a woman, has never felt what it feels like to have sex with a man as a woman, and apparently never found it prudent to ask any of the women in his life about it.
Would I recommend reading the book? Yes, if you, like me, enjoy rereading books you've enjoyed before. Reading this book is like rereading Pillars of the Earth but with just enough new twists to make it fun
In this ambitious, and some may say overly ambitious, prequel to Pillars of the Earth (1989), Follett tells the story of many characters in many settings.
If you’re going to read this long book, be prepared to devote a lot of time to it. Because of the author’s propensity toward describing everything in detail, the book became bogged down in the minutiae. It starts off very slowly and picks up a little steam but doesn’t seem to ever get to the point where the reader is turning the pages as fast as she can read. No, this is a languorous book that some readers will be willing to spend time with while others will move on to the next book on their to-be-read list without finishing this one.
My thanks to Viking and Edelweiss for an eARC.
The trio of stories and intertwining is exquisite and what Follette does best. There were heroes, villains, goodness overcoming evil, romance, suspense, backstabbing, and twists thrown in for good measure.
What I loved the most was the wonderful literary descriptions of landscapes, buildings, culture, society, and day to day lives of the people at this time. I learned so much about society and England during the dark ages to add to my previous knowledge. It was definitely a great book. I loved every minute of it (but I love the series as well).
Excellent 5/5 stars
In short, I could hardly put it down! Thoroughly recommend this book.
Top reviews from other countries
At first glance, the book seems formidable with 928 pages. Once I started it moved swiftly with scarcely a dull moment. It begins in the year 997 when the Dark Ages are drawing to a close and the start of what we refer to as Medieval times. The growth and transformation of a crude, small village to the thriving town of Knightsbridge, England, the setting of Pillars of Earth, is described through the hard work, tribulations, joys, and sorrows of three main characters. It is a time of warfare with brutal battles with the Welsh and constant raids by the Vikings. In the towns and villages, a loathsome bishop and his brothers are engaged in corruption and manipulating for total power and greater wealth.
A young, talented boatbuilder, Edgar, feels hopeless when his family business is destroyed, and his father and the woman he loves are killed by Vikings. Edgar, his mother, and two brothers are moved to some poor, very unproductive farmland. His mother soon dies. He improves the farmland, leaving his two brothers in charge. The brothers both share the same young wife. Edgar moves to town hoping to use the building and engineering skill that comes naturally to him. He is determined to use his talents to find work as a builder.
A Norman noblewoman, Ragna, leaves her family, travelling across the sea to marry an English earl whom she loves. She believes she can rule his domain alongside him. She discovers she made a huge mistake. He sees nothing wrong for a man in his position to engage in frequent infidelities. Ragna is appaled at the harsher living conditions in her new home town, the corrupt justice system, and the treatment of slaves. She learns that she is endangered by her husband's two brothers who are intent on taking or controlling any power and wealth that she might assume through the rights of her marriage.
A lowly monk, Aldred, has hopes to make the impoverished, humble abbey the centre of scholarship and education throughout Europe. He has collected a few books and manuscripts.
These three main character's lives connect with each other and also with clearly defined people in the locality. We meet soldiers, servants, slaves, thieves, ordinary workers and tradesmen, guards, a nasty alehouse keeper, and vicious villains. These characters all stand out and come to life on the pages.
There are bloody scenes of warfare, torture, murder, lust and rape. There are also love affairs, devotion to family, marriage celebrations, religious ceremonies, and court deliberations.
The writing is clear, fast-paced, and immersive. I now want to reread Pillars of Earth.
Only negative point in my opinion is that the ending feels like the author suddenly realised he had reached the minimum number of words specified in his contract, and wrapped it up as quickly as possible before going on vacation.
Still, an enjoyable read, and I would buy the sequel...
So why not five stars? I suppose the main reason is the predictability of the story: despite setbacks and crises, you always know the bad guys will suffer in the end, and the heroes will triumph. This is a hallmark of these books, of course, and a feel-good ending is nothing to disparage, but it was all just a bit too predictable as the story wound on. Also, there were some narrative gaps that didn't make sense in the context of the story (such as Ragna's sudden release from the hunting lodge and acquiescence to the imprisoners). None of this really detracts from an enjoyable read, and I can strongly recommend the book to newcomers to Follett's writing (are there many?!), and this is a nice addition to the series. I look forward to his next book.
The novel starts in 977 and these are indeed the Dark Ages - an era where the law has to succumb to the whims of the ruling class. England is under attack by both the Vikings and by the Welsh. There is chaos, there is conflict at every corner.
Here there are three major characters whose lives are intertwined. Edgar- a young and bright and charming boatbuilder who loses his first love during a Viking attack. Ragna - a beautiful Norman aristocrat who falls in love with an English nobleman and follows him to England. England and her husband did not turn out to be the way she had imagined. Alfred – a monk wants to transform his very humble abbey into a center of learning. The three of them have to try to outwit a ruthless and reckless bishop who does not stop at anything to increase his power.
So there are many conflicts and the novel is very much plot-driven – a page-turner in the best sense of the word. With the emphasis on plot there is no space for character development. They are either very good or very bad – nothing in-between. The good characters overcome after a long uphill battle all obstacles and are rewarded. The bad ones are punished - unlike in real life. That makes the novel always a bit predictable.
I was amazed to read at the end of the novel how many historians the authors thanked for their support. There did not seem a great deal of historical facts that needed to be checked. I wondered about the fact that characters already had the syphilis, though supposedly that only came to Europe after Columbus’s discovery of America. So why here 500 years before? Anyway, on the whole I enjoyed the novel as a good page-turner, but found the characters somewhat not very interesting, because they were so predictable. Still, I wanted to find out how the bad guys get their just dessert. So all in all I am happy to give 4 stars to this entertaining novel.
I hope you found my review helpful.