Though it is somewhat of a cliché that my first review should be rated so well, to give it any less would be blasphemy. An epic, sweeping, mesmerizing novel such as this one can hardly be praised enough. Set over many decades and involving countless characters, this work of art swept me off my feet and convinced me that the Middle Ages are truly underrated. A true encyclopedic novel, it should be crowned the King of “Historical Fiction” .
For a novel about the building of a church in Mediaeval England to continually gather support and conquer fans everywhere is a notable achievement. First published in 1989, POTE’s success seems only to thrive. It is constantly appearing on best-seller lists and oft quoted as one of the all time best books. With reason. Though almost 1000 pages long, the suspense kept me completely riveted. I sacrificed many sleep hours and spent many a night reading, reading, reading until I was so exhausted I was close to passing out. After a week or so, when I finally finished the novel, I felt like I had lost a friend. The novel “covers the entire lives of the main characters.¹” and they consequently felt immensely real to me. These characters are rich, poor, evil, kind and far from perfect. They represent all social aspects of 12th century market towns. Precise details and historical tidbits are entwined with the narrative which insures that the reader never feels lectured.
I could and would persist in my praise of Ken Follett’s masterpiece if I were not aware that every minute spent reading this review is a minute that could be spent reading the book. I recommend it to all; be they readers or non-readers. Do not let the size of the novel scare you away. Every page is a delight and you will soon find yourself yearning to build the tallest church in England.
“In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, a magnificent cathedral is built in Kingsbridge … this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.²”