I dont care what the rest of you think, but I loved this book. I am a hardcore fantasy reader and was really loath to start this 1076 page monster. But a 2 week holiday with the kids loomed ever near, and I decided that this was the perfect thing to while away those long evenings.
We went camping in Southern France, it was hot, the van was cramped and we had no food as we were miles from a shop. Every time I felt sorry for myself I started reading about 12th century life and thanked my lucky stars, looked around and felt gratefull that raping and pillaging were no longer a problem and my only real worry was getting 5 kids ready for bed in less than 2 hours!
If you love medieval history, romance, factual events and treachery all woven together with fantastic characterisation, great descriptions and dialogue then this is the book for you. It depicts the life and times of the dark ages in a very real way, nothing is romanticised. The rawness of the descriptions was a refreshing change and I feel I could build a cathedral from scratch thanks to Follets excellent descriptions. (which are not boring but facinating)
It describes the lives of the aristocracy, peasants, royalty and follows the individual lives of about 5 various people including a monk Father Philip (for 63 years of his life_)and about some other very different characters who's lives and destiny's are all irrivocabley interwoven.
The opening paragraph describes a hanging in the most brutal way, and the descriptions of the behaviour and attitude of the observers just had me gripped from the begining.
I was so impressed that the minute I got home I was on the net trying to verify some of the facts therin. And sure enough it was all there. Follett has taken key moments in medieval british history and woven around it 3 dimensional characters which just bring it all to life.
I'm now off to buy some more from this time period!