The Evening And The Morning

by Ken Follett

Publishers Weekly Follett delivers a lackluster prequel to his Kingsbridge series. The structure will feel familiar to series devotees; it centers on the intertwined stories of three people: a man who is good with his hands, an attractive noblewoman, and a cleric. This time, the action spans 997–1007 CE, and the leads are Edgar, Ragna, and Aldred, whose lives intersect multiple times despite their disparate backgrounds. Edgar, the teenage son of a boatbuilder, is planning to run off with a married woman until a Viking attack on his village in the west of England leaves her dead; that tragedy leads to his family’s move to Dreng’s Ferry, the future Kingsbridge, and to his developing career as a builder. At Dreng’s Ferry, he reunites with Ragna, a Norman woman he’d met years earlier, who has married Wilf, the royal official overseeing the area. Ragna, smart, independent, and beautiful, is trapped in an unfulfilling marriage. The “miraculously handsome” Brother Aldred, a scholar, finds himself confronted with corruption in the church, personified in Wilf’s cartoonishly evil brother, Wynstan, a bishop. The prose is often stilted and overwrought (“This was the funeral of his hopes”), and the plot elements are derivative of Follett’s past work, adding up to an epic full of romance tropes rather than a reimagined time and place. This is only for series completists. (Sept.)

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Library Journal It's still the Dark Ages in 997 CE, England, where a young man, Edgar, steals away from his house to flee with his love, Sunni. But the Vikings attack and Sunni is killed; so are his mother and father. Edgar's livelihood—boatmaking—is gone, too. Ragna is an aristocrat, daughter of the Norman count of Cherbourg. Her father's plans for her are upended when she meets an English thane, Wilf, and sparks fly. Soon Ragna is in England and married to Wilf, all she had hoped for. But life doesn't proceed as she'd expected. Wilf's family proves to be her enemy, and her hold over him isn't as absolute as she'd thought. The Vikings attack again, and Wilf returns from battle an invalid, his wits addled. The vultures gather. During these times, Ragna and Edgar cross paths several times. Their feelings for each other grow, but Edgar's a commoner and Ragna's a noblewoman and married. It takes 10 years, during which calamity after calamity rolls over them, before there is any possibility for them to be together. VERDICT Follett has done it again. Readers will gobble up this exciting prequel to his 1989 classic, The Pillars of the Earth.—David Keymer, Cleveland

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Book list Three decades after Follett launched his best-selling Kingsbridge series with The Pillars of the Earth, he presents a sequel tracing the fictional city's origins as the bedraggled settlement of Dreng’s Ferry. Dispossessed by Viking raiders of both his home and the woman he loves, Edgar ends up working for the despicable Dreng as a ferryman. Edgar is a builder, with a mind and skills that soon set him apart. Meanwhile, Ragna, a young Norman noblewoman, falls for ealdorman (a shire's chief officer) Wilwulf, member of a powerful Anglo-Saxon family that holds Dreng’s Ferry as part of its domains. Thanks to Wilwulf’s amoral half-brother, Bishop Wynstan, life in England is not what Ragna anticipated, and neither hers nor Edgar’s lives take the paths they had envisioned. Follett’s choice of language and explication accommodate an audience unfamiliar with the period, painting a large canvas with broad Dark Ages strokes. Violence, rape, slavery, romance, power plays, and human striving all combine into Follett's absorbing and lengthy saga of life in a chaotic and unstable England on the cusp of the Middle Ages.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of Follett's ever-popular Kingsbridge series, bolstered by an Oprah Book Club pick and a TV series, will flock to this well-publicized prequel, while intrigued newcomers can start here. Refresh holdings of the three earlier titles.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus Murder, sex, and unholy ambition threaten to overwhelm the glimmers of light in Dark Ages England in this prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989). A Viking raid in 997 C.E. kills Edgar’s one true love, Sungifu, and he vows never to love another—but come on, he’s only 18. The young man is a talented builder who has strong personal values. Weighing the consequences of helping a slave escape, he muses, “Perhaps there were principles more important than the rule of law.” Meanwhile, Lady Ragna is a beautiful French noblewoman who comes to Shiring, marries the local ealdorman, Wilwulf, and starts a family. Much of the action takes place in Dreng’s Ferry, a tiny hamlet with “half a dozen houses and a church.” Dreng is a venal, vicious ferryman who hurls his slave’s newborn child into a river and is only one of several characters whose death readers will eagerly root for. Bishop Wynstan lusts to become an archbishop and will crush anyone who stands in his way. He clashes with Ragna as she announces she is lord of the Vale of Outhen. “Wait!” he says to the people, “Are you going to be ruled by a mere woman?” (Wynstan’s fate is delicious.) Aldred is a kindly monk who harbors an unrequited love for Edgar, who in turn loves Ragna but knows it’s hopeless: Although widowed after Wilwulf’s sudden death, she remains above Edgar’s station. There are plenty of other colorful people in this richly told, complex story: slaves, rapists, fornicators, nobles, murderers, kind and decent people, and men of the cloth with “Whore’s Leprosy.” The plot at its core, though, is boy meets girl—OK, Edgar meets Ragna—and a whole lot of trouble stands in the way of their happiness. They are attractive and sympathetic protagonists, and more’s the pity they’re stuck in the 11th century. Readers may guess the ending well before Page 900—yes, it’s that long—but Follett is a powerful storyteller who will hold their attention anyway. Follett's fans will enjoy this jaunt through the days before England was merry. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Three decades after Follett launched his best-selling Kingsbridge series with The Pillars of the Earth, he presents a sequel tracing the fictional city's origins as the bedraggled settlement of Dreng’s Ferry. Dispossessed by Viking raiders of both his home and the woman he loves, Edgar ends up working for the despicable Dreng as a ferryman. Edgar is a builder, with a mind and skills that soon set him apart. Meanwhile, Ragna, a young Norman noblewoman, falls for ealdorman (a shire's chief officer) Wilwulf, member of a powerful Anglo-Saxon family that holds Dreng’s Ferry as part of its domains. Thanks to Wilwulf’s amoral half-brother, Bishop Wynstan, life in England is not what Ragna anticipated, and neither hers nor Edgar’s lives take the paths they had envisioned. Follett’s choice of language and explication accommodate an audience unfamiliar with the period, painting a large canvas with broad Dark Ages strokes. Violence, rape, slavery, romance, power plays, and human striving all combine into Follett's absorbing and lengthy saga of life in a chaotic and unstable England on the cusp of the Middle Ages.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of Follett's ever-popular Kingsbridge series, bolstered by an Oprah Book Club pick and a TV series, will flock to this well-publicized prequel, while intrigued newcomers can start here. Refresh holdings of the three earlier titles.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus Murder, sex, and unholy ambition threaten to overwhelm the glimmers of light in Dark Ages England in this prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989).A Viking raid in 997 C.E. kills Edgars one true love, Sungifu, and he vows never to love anotherbut come on, hes only 18. The young man is a talented builder who has strong personal values. Weighing the consequences of helping a slave escape, he muses, Perhaps there were principles more important than the rule of law. Meanwhile, Lady Ragna is a beautiful French noblewoman who comes to Shiring, marries the local ealdorman, Wilwulf, and starts a family. Much of the action takes place in Drengs Ferry, a tiny hamlet with half a dozen houses and a church. Dreng is a venal, vicious ferryman who hurls his slaves newborn child into a river and is only one of several characters whose death readers will eagerly root for. Bishop Wynstan lusts to become an archbishop and will crush anyone who stands in his way. He clashes with Ragna as she announces she is lord of the Vale of Outhen. Wait! he says to the people, Are you going to be ruled by a mere woman? (Wynstans fate is delicious.) Aldred is a kindly monk who harbors an unrequited love for Edgar, who in turn loves Ragna but knows its hopeless: Although widowed after Wilwulfs sudden death, she remains above Edgars station. There are plenty of other colorful people in this richly told, complex story: slaves, rapists, fornicators, nobles, murderers, kind and decent people, and men of the cloth with Whores Leprosy. The plot at its core, though, is boy meets girlOK, Edgar meets Ragnaand a whole lot of trouble stands in the way of their happiness. They are attractive and sympathetic protagonists, and mores the pity theyre stuck in the 11th century. Readers may guess the ending well before Page 900yes, its that longbut Follett is a powerful storyteller who will hold their attention anyway.Follett's fans will enjoy this jaunt through the days before England was merry. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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