I first encountered this author’s bestseller, A World Without End, in a used bookstore ensconced in the Lake Arrowhead library. The back cover intrigued me with its content description. Moreover, the 1000 page tome was a steal at fifty cents. It would be years before I actually opened it up and read it. It took me a good year since I left it up in the mountain treehouse and only read it when I stayed there.
Wowza! This epic tale set in the 14th century is a historical novel with events like the Black Death, start of the Hundred Years War and peasant uprisings. Apart from that it portrays how people lived, worked, farmed, ate and fought. It’s a memorable story set in another time with a cast of characters, events and plots intertwined with an authentic view of the human condition in that era.
After finishing it, I looked up the author and found out I read the second in a series, so of course I purchased the first book, The Pillars of the Earth, and just turned the last page, finally, this weekend. Since we moved to a more remote area in the San Bernardino Mountain Range, it resided by my nightstand up at Sunset Ridge, our new to us, mountain home and snowmeggedon of 2023 prevented me from making it up the hill for around 9 weeks last winter. Hence, between the move, the sale of the cabin, and the weather, it took me about one and half years to finish this almost 1000 page book as well.
I am as deeply satisfied and was as entertained with this historical novel as I was with the afore mentioned title ( the 2nd in the series). These stories stand alone but it would have been helpful to have read them in order. Nonetheless, this incredible saga takes place in 12th century England wherein the building of a cathedral and all its woes, wars, architectual designs and labor troubles are depicted in the mythical town of Knightsbridge. Some real-life moments in history include King Stephen’s reign and the battle of Lincoln and the tragic murder of Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. Like most historical novels, there’s romance among protagonists and evil villains of the worst kind.
Both books reminded me of the times we live in still with better plumbing, medical/technical modern advances and grooming habits but the same brutality of war, hateful factions vying for power, twists of fate and civilian suffering.
I am eager to read the next in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire, considered more of a thriller set in the English 16th century, wherein the power shifts not between religion and monarchy with the masses caught in the middle and taking sides but the factual divide between the Catholics and Protestants. Taking place during Queen Elizabeth’s reign, surely this will be another fascinating read.
I am ordering the heavy tome tomorrow! Watch for my review in another year!!LOL!