The prelude to the historical Kingsbridge novels by Ken Follett
The fourth book is actually the first. More than 30 years after the publication of „Pillars of Earth*“ the Welsh bestselling author Ken Follett writes with „The Evening and the Morning“ a fourth volume of his great historical cycle.
This is chronologically before the other three volumes and describes the prehistory of the place of action around the first turn of the millennium.
So if you haven’t read any of the Kingsbridge novels yet, you should start with this one. But even for me, who has read all the books in the series in the chronology of publication, there was definitely a charm in this read. Because history has no beginning and no end, you can jump arbitrarily back and forth in the observation, will always find detached stories in history and also references that can be traced back over centuries. So here you are not „curious how it continues„, but „curious what has happened before„.
The plot begins just before the turn of the millennium, in 997, in the south of England with a brief impulse of the Viking Age coming to an end. Follett describes the historical situation as a dark period of the Middle Ages after the collapse of the Roman Empire, whose grandiose buildings had been left to decay for centuries. People live in simple wooden houses with open hearths and can read, write and calculate less rather than more. But changes are emerging, which are reflected in the story lines of the narrative.
During a Viking raid on a coastal town in southern England, the family of a boat builder loses their shipyard and the head of the family. The surviving mother sets off inland with her two sons to start anew in a small settlement with little fertile land. The younger son, Edgar, who has also become very skilled as a boat builder apprentice to his father, finds ways and means to provide a source of food and income for the family.
At the same time, Ragna, a cultured princess from Normandy, marries an English nobleman whose lands include the settlement. A love match. But love is short-lived, at least on the part of the husband; greed and power interests outweigh the love. The clever princess with her sense of justice only interferes. Her life is increasingly in danger.
One of the wonders of stories is that people meet and get to know each other who, because of their status and role, would probably have little chance of forming an alliance. In „The Evening and the Morning“ the boatbuilder’s son and the princess meet, discover their mutual sympathy and learn to appreciate their abilities. Thus, they increasingly resist the destructive forces of self-serving church – superiors and power-obsessed prince to assert themselves with their ideas – laying the very foundation for the new age.
This book by Ken Follett is also well worth reading. Those who know the chronologically following novels and always wanted to know how the place Kingsbridge came into being and why the king of England donated the oak piers for the bridge will find the answers in this book. The plot is exciting throughout, and some twists are unexpected and startling. The reader can put himself a little bit in the time and can be a part of many an adventure.
However, the book does not reach the quality of the other novels. I missed above all the depth, the detailed description of the historical situation on the basis of concise episodes. The following books of the Kingsbridge series profit from this and stand out from the multitude of historistical novels.
Those who are not yet familiar with the Kingsbridge novels will still be able to read the book with enthusiasm. It has everything an adventure novel needs: characteristic persons with identification potential, exciting plot lines, a developing historical setting, surprising twists and turns, and an emotional choreography. Those who, like me, have already read the books that follow in the chronological order should lower their expectations a bit. Then he will not close the back cover disappointed. The comprehensive, well-researched insight into the world of this time, as is the case in the other Kingsbridge – novels, Follett has not granted with this book.
This book-tip was pulishes first in German under „Kingsbridge- der Morgen einer neuen Zeit„
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