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82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Books Ever
I purchased this book when it was first published and I have just re-read it, something I cannot ever remember doing with a work of fiction. I put this book in the top 5 of all the books I have ever read.
The book is so vast that to give a coherent review in the space available is virtually impossible.
Suffice to say that the book starts 7,000 years BC and ends...
Published on 22 Nov 2004 by J. Chippindale

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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way to learn history
I've just completed this book. It took some time since it's rather long, some 1400 pages. The book chronicles the history of Britain in general and the Salisbury region in particular through the lives and shifting fortunes of 5 families from the end of the last ice-age through to our own century. The book is in the form of a series of short novels, all dealing with...
Published on 11 Oct 2002


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82 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5 Books Ever, 22 Nov 2004
By 
J. Chippindale (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sarum (Hardcover)
I purchased this book when it was first published and I have just re-read it, something I cannot ever remember doing with a work of fiction. I put this book in the top 5 of all the books I have ever read.
The book is so vast that to give a coherent review in the space available is virtually impossible.
Suffice to say that the book starts 7,000 years BC and ends in modern times. It relates the lives of five families and their histories through this vast time scale.
Read this book for the pleasure it will undoubtedly give you, but at the same time you are receiving a lesson in the history of the British Isles (if only they were like this at school).
Perhaps the main character in the book is not a person at all but a building, the Catherdral at Salisbury.
Rutherfurd brings everything to life in the most magical of ways. If you are interested in historical novels you must read this one.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic, 14 Jun 2011
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
Sarum is set is Salisbury, Wiltshire; Sarum is the old name for the city, so steeped in history. The novel captures the intertwining histories of five local families; The Wilsons, The Porters, The Masons, The Shockleys & The Godfreys. Each family line represents a different historic grouping that arrived at Sarum at different times. Each chapter in the book takes a different era in Sarum's history and provides a short story based around the events of that time and the central five families. There are 19 chapters in total. There is no real overall plot as you get a snapshot history lesson from Sarum's past - there are some really key events covered such as the building of Stonehenge and building of the cathedral. The book goes right up to 1987, covering 9,000 years in 13,000 pages and is filled with useful maps and family trees. It is one hell of an achievement to cram so much detail into a novel, and inevitably things like characterisation do suffer. However the quality of writing is excellent. Read this epic and you will not be disappointed.

Anon
The Spire Chronicle
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FANTASTIC!, 1 July 2004
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
Edward Rutherfurd must have a brain like a huge sponge! This book literally absorbs every ounce of English history and then uses it to narrate the entire history of Sarum, AKA Salisbury! The result is a rollercoaster journey through time, told through the eyes of characters who are not unlike those who once may have inhabited the island. The story spans from the lives of the first Britons, who witness the end of the Ice Age and the creation of a new island, through to the present day. Each generation develops amid the shifting Wiltshire landscape and sociology, centred around the ancient ubiquitous presence of the spiritual Henge, a structure which resonates throughout the novel with its ambiguous origins.Take a few Romans, add a few Celts and a couple of Normans and the English ancestory unfolds before your very eyes! I initially thought that the book would cover a similar ground to 'London', however this book only serves to complement it with a far more enticing and mystical approach! Rutherfurd really knows his history and at times there is a lot of historical text between the stories but this is really interesting and helps you understand what is actually happening to the characters. This book enhances the enchanting history that the island has, probing at ancient mythologies and beliefs which altogether provide a fascinating and exciting read. I'm going to go for 'The Forest' next!
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting way to learn history, 11 Oct 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
I've just completed this book. It took some time since it's rather long, some 1400 pages. The book chronicles the history of Britain in general and the Salisbury region in particular through the lives and shifting fortunes of 5 families from the end of the last ice-age through to our own century. The book is in the form of a series of short novels, all dealing with different periods, linked together.
The book is, in places, very interesting, like in those chapters dealing with the building of Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. Other parts I felt very indifferent to, and some parts I found right out boring. But this is probably to be expected in a book as long as this. However, I felt that the interesting chapters were in too short supply.
But I'll be fair and admit that my opinion is, in part, based on my previous knowledge of history. I didn't know much about the stone-age, Roman invasion and the Middle Ages etc. so I tended to find those chapters more interesting. Periods like the civil war, Victorian England among others I knew a bit about. Consequently, I had a pretty good idea where the story was heading, and that took some fun out of it. Also, I should point out that at times this book felt more like a history book than a novel. By that I mean that the stories were a bit weak, sometimes to the point where I felt they were just an excuse for chronicling historical events.
The conclusion must be that if you know British history very well, this may not be the book for you. On the other hand, if you don't, and are looking for an entertaining way to learn history, I would definitely recommend this book.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular!!!, 20 May 2004
By 
SecretSweets (Caxias, Portugal) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
If you plan to read just one book this year, make it SARUM. This is a truly amazing book, a work of art, a journey into history, a voyage of discovery.
Like the other Rutherfurd productions, SARUM is an enormous book of epic proportions. It recounts the tale of 5 families, starting circa 7500 BC and the last chapter takes place in April 1985. Needless to say, there is plenty happening in between - adultery, murder, treachery, rivalry, mystery, love, hate, passion, war, anarchy, peace etc etc etc. Every aspect of the human emotion is examined against a real historical background.
The characters and their lives are genuine enough that you can empathise with them, Actual historical facts further enhance the authenticity of the characters that you may find yourself actually believing that these people really did exist.
Despite the the fact that the books deals with events that took place over 100 centuries, there is never a dull moment. Somehow, Rutherfurd manages to glide smoothly through the centuries of history that has defined our present including the shaping of the British Isle, the building of Stonehenge, the devastation of war and life in feudal England. In my opinion, this is the author's unparalleled genius - that he can hold the readers' interest for that long.
Read this book for an insight into the people who were instrumental in shaping Salisbury plain and in giving us what is probably the most breathtaking piece of architecture - the truly magnificent Salisbury Cathedral.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read!, 21 Feb 2009
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
Like many others here, I recently read and thoroughly enjoyed 'Sarum'. Undaunted by its length, I carried it in my handbag for about six or seven weeks, reading it almost exclusively during my lunch hour at work. It is a wonderful work of historic writing that makes me wish English school children were actually taught about English history, rather than American or German history, as I was at GCSE.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone! However, I would recommend having a map to hand, as it can be tricky deciphering the location of each place as the timeline changes.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel that should be missed on no account, 27 Nov 1999
By 
Amazon Customer (SAINT NAZAIRE (FRANCE)) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
I read SARUM a few months ago. This was the first book by Edward Rutherfurd that I had read. Before starting to read it, I must say that I hesitated to do so on account of the number of pages: I was afraid that I might feel discouraged by its length or that I might get lost in the numerous characters. Anyway, I finally made up my mind and read it through. I was delighted ! The style is really excellent, and easy to read. The author tells us a very interesting story, and at the same time the reader learns a lot of things about English history. However, I think it is necessary to have a basic knowledge of the history of England before getting started on this novel, which is my case. I have got two other novels by the same author: LONDON and RUSSKA, but I have not read them yet as I am trying to find a good opportunity to do so. Before putting an end to this message, I want to say to those who have not read SARUM: READ IT ! DO NOT HESITATE ! IT IS WORTH IT, BELIEVE ME ! Gweltaz, from France
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars amazing!, 5 Jan 2012
This review is from: Sarum (Kindle Edition)
as a 12 year old girl people find it hard to believe i would be into this book ,but i think it is a very good, well written book. Rutherfurd has really thought about the history and characters in this book. the only downside personally is that it can be a little confusing at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarum, 1 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Sarum (Paperback)
I have recently renewed an old school friend via the www - she recommended this book to me, and feel that I am on a new historic journey - I am thoroughly enjoying reading Sarum - have about 300 pages left to read, but even if it goes downhill it is still a very enjoyable read - I am looking forward to finishing this book, so I can start reading London, New York, Dublin and Russka - cities/country I have visited. Strangely enough I have never visited the West Country - but wil be doing in the spring.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A triumph....eventually!, 5 Dec 2007
By 
A. J. King "ajking22" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sarum (Hardcover)
For me, Rutherfurd's first epic novel eventually earned its 4 stars thanks to its ambition, the author's historical research and the improving quality of the writing as the book progresses, although at the 500 page mark I would have given it only 2 stars.
The book's flaws are inherent, that is to say the author has chosen to set the story in one place and over the entire span of what we would call the time of modern man, which means that characters, and to a lesser extent plots, and time itself are forced to play subsidiary roles to place. The book loosely tracks the fortunes of four or five family groupings, from pre-christian times to the present day though the area around the five valleys of modern Salisbury, remains pre-eminent. If a character leaves Sarum he usually leaves the story, although where Rutherfurd breaks this self imposed rule, for instance following characters to America and India - the story improves and the reader can empathise more.
This primacy of place for me does not work - Rutherfurd tries to maintain continuity by reference to physical characteristics, but our loyalties too often lie with a character he has just swept into the past as he hurries the story along towards the present day and the reader is sometimes left breathless and anxious, and sometimes a little concerned for the fate of a character just discarded.
Until the book reaches the middle ages, virtually all characters are superficial, and in many cases do not really speak dialogue at all, they merely hurry the plot along with wooden statements in the style of facing the audience and crying "I will go west, and seek the rich hunting grounds of my Celtic brothers"..... "And I will go south to Gaul, and thence to Rome...." etc.
However, improved writing and character forming begin to transform the storytelling around the point at which the building of Salisbury Cathedral commences in the chronicle. Maybe this is no coincidence as Rutherfurd is clearly motivated by the cathedral as his epilogue testifies, and among all the journeys in this novel, not least is his own improving craft and confidence as a writer. By the time the English Civil War is reached characters feel more rounded and convincing, and even conversing!
Praise is due to Rutherfurd both for the historical research that has gone into this book and the way in which he uses it to inform the plots and scenes of the story without overloading us with unnecessary information - always a temptation when a writer seeks payback for all the hours spent in research.
Ultimately this is a flawed epic, but a magnificently ambitious endeavour.
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Sarum: The Novel of England
Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd (Mass Market Paperback - 1 July 1992)
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