Title: The Evening and the Morning
Writer: Ken Follett
Publishing House: Viking
Date of Publication: September 15th 2020
Rating: 5 stars
‘’At last, the church bell struck.’’
997. England stands at a crossroads. The Dark Ages are almost over, a new era is about to begin. The dangers are still present as the Welsh threat and the Viking raids continue. But the true menace for the people comes from their own ground, from the clerics and the noblemen whose corruption, greed, and violence plague the weaker and the ones who dare to voice their independence. A Norman noblewoman, a boatbuilder and a brilliant monk find themselves in the middle of vile efforts and hideous actions.
The fourth installment in the Kingsbridge Series, the ‘’prequel’’ to The Pillars of the Earth as it has been dubbed, turned out to be my very favourite.
Yes, I loved it even more than its famous sister. The familiar pattern is here, no doubt about that. There is the strong woman who stands against the ambitions of diabolical men, there is the young lad whose honesty and hard work help him prosper through the obstacles, there is the gifted monk who tries to fight against the machinations while keeping one or two skeletons of his own. But. Ken Follett depicts this very special era in unique detail and atmosphere – as always – and trims the fat, keeping the action, the characters and the settings condensed and to the point. In my opinion, there are no unnecessary characters as in A Column Of Fire (which was a true torture, at times….), no frivolous plotlines as in The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, and the characters felt much more believable, even the evil ones were much more complex and vulnerable than Bishop Waleran.
There is a balanced view of the State and the Church, there is vivid dialogue without sounding ‘’jarring’’ (a major problem in A Column of Fire) and Ragna entered my personal Dream Team of literary female characters. She was more complex, more likable and more interesting than the obnoxious Aliena, the naive, apathetic Caris, and Margaret.
I won’t say more. I admit I was a bit cautious after A Column of Fire and because of my live for the history of the 10th century, but I was thoroughly satisfied. So much so that The Evening and the Morning is now my favourite Ken Follett book.
‘’We live in a world of cruelty and ignorance and pain, but we make it better. When evil is done in front of our eyes we cannot remain silent.’’