A rich and sumptuous epic,
This review is from: Cathedral of the Sea (Hardcover)
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Fourteenth-century Barcelona is slowly slipping under the auspices of the Spanish Inquisition, but life's already pretty harsh for serfs like Arnau. After fleeing his feudal master he goes into hiding and begins a long struggle to freedom. He becomes involved with the building of a grand cathedral overlooking the harbour, but it is his valour fighting for the king that secures not only his path to freedom, but catapults him into a position of power. Unfortunately, amongst those he leaves behind, he has more than a few enemies.
Ildefonso Falcones' epic novel of love, prejudice, war, heroism, revenge and tragedy is a love story to Barcelona and Catalan history. It lives and breathes the research that has gone into it, with Falcones detailing almost every facet of medieval life, but unless you share the same level of passion for the period, you might find it just a little bit too much. If you didn't like the long segues about the Battle of Waterloo, life in a monastery and the Parisian sewer system in Les Miserables, then this novel might also be too detailed for you. Similarly, if you didn't like being bombarded by lists of names that you forget a page later in War & Peace, then parts of this novel will aggravate you too.
Inevitably the book has drawn some comparisons with Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which might be a more accessible read for some, but this is still a sumptuous, richly detailed epic adventure and worth making the effort for.