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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

ARC Review: The Evening and The Morning by Ken Follett


 

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages, and in England one man's ambition to make his abbey a centre of learning will take the reader on an epic journey into a historical past rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate.

Thirty years ago, Ken Follett published his most popular novel, The Pillars of The Earth, which has sold over 27 million copies worldwide.

Now, this novel, the prequel, will take the readers on an epic journey that will end where The Pillars of The Earth begins...

 

Review:

Ken Follett writes epic novels in the vein of James Michener and  George R.R. Martin.  These are sweeping books that have multiple characters, settings, and story-lines, giving us a sense of people caught up in historical events bigger than themselves.  The Evening and The Morning is the prequel to Follett's masterpeice, The Pillar of The Earth, and it is a worthy novel.

What I Liked:

Historical Setting:

The author readily states (in his notes to the reader) that the details of life in the Middle Ages are scant.  But, nevertheless, he provides such an abundance of details about food, clothing, and the various ways people lived in those times, we can't help but feel transported to that time.  

I found the way the author distinguished between the lives of the different classes particularly interesting.  At the beginning of the story, a family who had a modestly successful business loses everything in a Viking raid.  They must start over, but with no money, or possessions, they are really at the mercy of others.  They need to rely on their wits (and an amount of luck) in order to survive.  Contrast this with noblemen who lose possessions from a Viking raid.  They still own property and collect rents.  So they don't feel the hardships of events that are out of their control.

 

Characters:

Edgar and his family, prosperous boat builders, lost everything in a Viking raid and had to start over as farmers.  Did he know anything about farming?  No, but that didn't stop Edger from making a go of it.  Edgar had a curiosity that was rare for most people, and an aptitude for engineering. 

Edgar's friend Aldred was a monk who had a similar keen mind.  He had big dreams to create a library which would make his monastery a center of learning.  Both Edgar and Aldred had a strong sense of justice.  This pushed them to confront corruption.  But their strident adherence to following the rules also was their weakness.  They often missed opportunities to find compromises with their neighbors, which made their lives difficult at times.

Regna was the most fleshed out female character.  She was a noblewoman from Normandy who married into a powerful English family.  Although she had a lot to learn about the ways of the English, she was often underestimated.  Even as she knew her limitations (she had to follow the edicts of her husband), she knew how to strategize, form alliances, and plan ahead.  She was practical, smart and compassionate.  

 

Story:

This was a sweeping saga that followed Edgar and his family as they literally start out with nothing.  At the beginning of the book, they moved to a tiny village. But at the book's conclusion, the village became a prosperous town. I found it fascinating to see how people could begin with nothing, and through ingenuity and hard work, build a successful community.  It mostly happened by creating income sources that weren't dependent on others.  If one could acquire land, and then collect rent on that land, they would have a steady form of income.  

But this was also a story about how innovation drove progress.  Both Edgar and Aldred look for solutions to problems in new ways.  Sometimes this was about inventing new tools to make work more efficient.  Other times, it was about looking at problems in a different way or forming alliances that were mutually beneficial.  I found this fascinating.

 

Trigger Warning for Rape

 

Rating: 



 

Release Date:  September 15th, 2020

Author: Ken Follett

Publisher:  MacMillan

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Page Length:  817 Pages

Source: Edelweiss

Format:  E-Book 

Recommendation:  A must read for fans of The Pillars of The Earth.  A highly entertaining prequel.

  

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