Finally completed the 1256 page historical novel by Ken Follett! No doubt the most intimidating book on my shelf, it took me quite a while to convince myself to start it. But I don’t regret it.
“On the day after Hallowe’en, in the year 1327, four children slip away from the cathedral city of Kingsbridge. They are a thief, a bully, a boy genius & a girl who wants to be a doctor. In the forest they see two men killed. As adults, their lives will be braided together by ambition, love, greed & revenge.”
Picking up the sequel to the wonderful “The Pillars Of The Earth” which had made me extremely emotional (with no doubt the best, most satisfying ending) was quite hard. Would the book be as good? Would some problems with the other book be fixed in this?
Let’s break it down;
The Plot was, as expected from Follett, constantly unexpected and ever changing. Of course there was a ‘red thread’ through the book, but you could NEVER trust things to turn out as predicted. You have to be prepared that the book is quite the angsty read since most of the time things never go the way for the protagonists. And again, the thing that tied all the characters’ lives together was the mysterious death of a monarch, although I feel that in this story it was much more present, while in ‘The Pillars Of The Earth’ I forgot it most of the time (though it did not downgrade the book for me at all, because once it came up again it was more shocking). But I really loved that some things happened in this book, that should have happened in the first. Also, even though it can be quite frustrating a lot of the times when the villains just get away with everything, have patience. Justice will be served.
What to absolutely love is, of course, the characters. I was quite worried that they would be too much alike the characters from the prequel, and although there are A LOT of similarities, you don’t see them as the same people. To be honest, I first wanted to have more “new” characters, more different from the previous book. In this novel you can just make SO many comparisons to the characters, but when doing so you will realise that he has given each “comparable” character a twist. The monk who sought to be Prior in Kingsbridge was now the villain, the two main character brothers were instead friends despite one being protagonist while the other an antagonist, etc. I am also very happy that we get the perspective of more than one woman this time, and already from the beginning instead of like 400 pages into the book.
Two of characters were the following; Merthin, the builder. I must be honest and tell you that I did not root for him as much as I had with Jack in the previous book. Don’t misunderstand me, I really did root for him when troubles aroused regarding his building etc. But at times I found myself a bit frustrated with him, and in truth, I was much more concerned about Caris and her projects. Caris was such an inspiring character and overall a great woman. She expressed loudly women’s rights, she worked extremely hard, never running away from problems, held strong to her beliefs (not religious, but about justice and morale) and did not put romance, even though she loved Merthin, before her needs and ambitions. The treatment Caris receives will be, as expected, frustrating. But there’s a scene near the end that has to be on my top ten list of satisfying “I’m so done with this shit”-scenes. These two, as stated before, has a romance from the beginning of the book, and is a constant subject through the book (to the part where the whole town is gossiping about it). To be honest, I did not care that much for it but in truth I never really care for romance in books. Though most of the time it never really bothered me, in fact I could actually feel a lot of sympathy for them when things didn’t work out (which I like, never do). Sometimes it was in fact a bit annoying, but it depended throughout the books.
Of course, there are a lot more characters in this book but I don’t think I should describe them all for now. But overall I was very pleased with this book, the only thing that really annoyed me was the constant description of women with focus on their butts and breasts, which made me cringe at like every description of a woman, especially if it was from Merthin’s perspective. But thankfully it does not ruin the book, so if you like me find those descriptions always a bit annoying, you just have to breathe slowly through those scenes and you’ll be perfectly fine throughout the book. If my dear reader is a man and confused why this should be a bother, it’s just that most women don’t focus on the size of breasts and butts when describing a person, and in the reading community it is a common pet peeve when a male author describe breasts by the amount of sex appeal. Most female authors don’t even describe breasts, for honestly we barely take much notice to them. But it’s a pet peeve, so if you don’t have any problem with it, great!
But in conclusion, this book was great and I really recommend it. I really enjoyed it and the last 500 pages (it’s not often you say that and means more than halfway through the book) I finished in like three/four sittings. Though I really liked the ending, it was maybe not as emotional to me as the first. But I’m not surprised, as there’s no book ending that has made me as emotional as that book (Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson came close, but could not beat it). Though I absolutely LOVE one of the important things that this book teaches – change is necessary and an important part of life. You should not hold on to conservative ways with the excuse of “but we’ve always done that!”.
You Should Read This Book If You;
- Like historical fiction but don’t want the focus to be on royals
- Want a woman to go against the conservative and unmodern teachings of the church
- Want an unpredictable and intriguing plot
- Lesbian nuns! Gay monks!
- Believe in equality
- Like several p.o.v. , including the antagonists
- Love to hate a villain
- Want an inspiring story about people that work so hard for their dreams
- like romance that is actually important to the plot
- Are not intimidated by a thick book. A really thick book.
- Love a book with many important messages
You Should NOT Read This Book If You;
- Are triggered by blood, violence or sexual assault.
- Are very intimidated by thick books
- not interested in historical fiction
- You’re a conservative who don’t believe in equality
That’s all for my review! Hope you’ll give the book a chance 🙂 x