Cover Image: The Evening and the Morning

The Evening and the Morning

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Member Reviews

Brilliant there is no other possible descriptor for this book.  Familiar characters in a familiar setting and yet, completely delightful and brilliantly done.  I read it twice, just to be certain I didn't miss a single detail.  I love every word.
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You know what you're getting with a Ken Follett book - a hefty tome, a detailed epic and a complete escape into a different world. In this case we start off in 997AD, the English coast and a Viking raid. We swiftly meet the main characters, the irredeemable villain of the bishop, the local lord, the Norman princess, a young boatbuilder turned farmer, a monk determined to turn his monastery into a centre for learning...

Fast paced, classic Follett.
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What a wonderful novel. I finished it a couple of days ago and I have been thinking of it frequently ever since because there was so much historical detail to stimulate and entertain the mind.

The novel (a prequel to Pillars of the Earth) is set in southern England towards the end of the Dark Ages. The story starts with a Viking raid on a small port where Edgar the boatbuilder is the first villager to  see the invaders’ arrival. He raises the alarm and witnesses the brutal killing of his lover. These incidents lead to an encounter with Bishop Wynstan of Shiring who offers Edgar and his family a new life as peasant farmers on his cousin’s land. This farm turns out to consist of poor, marshy land at the edge of a village, Drengs Ferry, in a drab backwater.  Edgar soon falls foul of the village hierarchy and realises that all is not as it seems in the village.

A young noblewoman, Ragna, arrives in Shiring from Normandy to marry Wynstan’s brother Wilf but she too soon learns that her life is governed by things and people she does not understand.

A young monk, Aldred, witnesses sinful goings on in Shiring and in  Drengs Ferry and is determined to do something about it. But in attempting to find a just solution he makes a powerful enemy of Bishop Wynstan and his family as well as the Treasurer of the monastery. The aftermath sees Aldred’s dream of establishing a great library and scriptorium at the monastery brought to an apparent end.

The scene is set for a terrific historical novel, where the fortunes of these three main characters mingle and intertwine; the malign presence of Wynstan is always lurking and the reader is left wondering constantly whether he will ever get his comeuppance. The love story between Edgar and Ragna is well written and, I felt, was realistic.

I loved the amount of historical detail that pervaded this book; I could really imagine and visualise what daily life was like for the characters and the daily hardships they endured. The descriptions of the religious life of the times was enlightening too.

This is a book to get lost in and let your imagination roam free. I absolutely loved it and I hope there will be a sequel to this prequel!

Thanks to NetGalley and to Pan Macmillan for allowing me to read this ARC.
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Unputdownable prequel: fans of medieval history must try this

History’s dark side, but also how advances happened. 

I fell in love with The Pillars of the Earth early on, then loved the TV series. World Without End showed that Follett knew he was onto a winner with archetypes and structure but that didn’t matter, he creates winning good guys, appallingly hateable bad guys and gives us a visually immersive world that I’ve rarely seen explored in fiction before.

While this is technically a prequel to the series, you can read it as a stand-alone without foreknowledge of the characters or events of the others. In 997, an independently-minded noblewoman in Cherbourg falls for an older Englishman from the upper classes, thus changing her prospects. Over in England, Edgar and his family have the consequences of a Viking raid to live with, as lives and livelihoods are lost to the raiders. These two stories give us the story of a years-long plot that involves political machinations, intrigues, and the everyday lives of the poor and rich alike. 

Edgar’s inspiration in the series can be easily seen in Tom Builder/Jack, and the boatbuilder and his sharp, problem-solving mind gives us a clue just how advances must have been made. For someone like me who isn’t technologically minded, I found the description if bridge- and raft-building just as intriguing as cathedral building was with Tom. And Ragna’s seemingly worlds-apart life journey, as newcomer, foreigner, new wife and authority figure is just as compelling as we get the chance to see the role of women in medieval society, and how they could influence events. 

There are several strong female characters here, some wealthy and some from much more humble origins. They give a good account of themselves (even if some are motivated by less-than-honourable intentions) - it was clearly not a man’s world alone. 

The origins of the class system are also very clear to see, as money is kept within families, power transferred, opponents and anyone likely to show promise and leadership removed, the influential family at the heart of these events always able to control proceedings from their vantage point. Not much changed even in a thousand years...

There is a fair amount of educational content here, facts about living conditions, health (“Ma and Pa had taught their sons to keep themselves fresh by bashing at least once a year.”), political systems, marriage, religion and how people thought and saw their world. Seeing out own from a distance and how we’ve moved on from our antecedents is just fascinating.

A dangerous world, a hard world to survive in, but a completely intoxicating glimpse, with the best of heroes and villains that you would hope for in a saga. I hope this too is transferred into a TV series, it’s perfectly set up to make a excellent historical drama.

800 pages flew by in just four days, I highly recommend this.

With thanks to Netgalley for providing a sample reading copy.
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As always from Ken Follett the book can't be faulted at all.  I lived in his world, such a wonderful storyteller of life, repression, failures and success, of hardships, the weather and the countryside. The characters are well thought out, the storyline is gripping and the ending perfect.  So interesting to read a description of the development of Kingsbridge.  Prequels don't always work well, this really, really does!
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Outstanding! Having read all of Follett’s books over the years, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into The Evening and the Morning. I had high expectations and was not disappointed. The main characters are beautifully portrayed and one is swept along on an epic journey of love, war, deceit and intrigue. A stark reminder of the brutality of this period in history. Absolutely splendid. If you enjoyed Pillars of the Earth, you are going to love this prequel.
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Ken Follett returns with this prequel to his best selling epic “The Pillars of the Earth” and trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Set around the turn of the 1st Millennium towards the end of the Dark Ages, England is under attack from the Welsh in the West and the Vikings in the East. King Ethelred the Unready (Misled) is on the throne holding a fragile grip on the country and in a lawless society, chaos reigns. 

The story revolves around 3 characters. A young boat builder with dreams of a better life and future, a young noblewoman from Normandy who travels across the Channel to marry the man she loves and a monk who dreams of transforming his abbey into a seat of learning to be admired across Europe. All three find conflict with a ruthless bishop who has little regard for anyone bar himself and will stop at nothing to reach his goals of wealth and power.

I love the way Ken Follett manages to weave a story around numerous characters and events, bringing it to an exciting and thrilling climax. Written in an easy reading style and totally unputdownable, this work is an absolute triumph in every sense. I have always considered “The Pillars of the Earth” to be my favourite book of all, “The Evening and the Morning” comes close to rivalling this opinion.

Utterly brilliant!

My sincere thanks go to publisher Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for granting my wish to read this truly wonderful novel.
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For you reading pleasure, I present the long-awaited prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989), The Evening and the Morning (2020). TPOTE is long thought of as a classic historical masterpiece, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with, but don't concern yourself, because this latest installment of the Kingsbridge series is just as immersive, dramatic, captivating and spellbinding, and I guarantee you will be as glued to all 832 pages as I was. 

Set at the end of the dark ages, on the cusp of the first millennium, the action and danger was immediate – less than three pages in see Viking ships raid and pillage a small English fishing village. The four main characters, and POV's, are; a Peasant boat builder, an English Monk, the Bishop of Shiring, and the daughter of a French Count. It's set mainly in England, with the threats of Vikings in the East and the Welsh in the West, but there are sections in Normandy, France. Much of the plot revolves around the personal lives of the main players – their loves, losses, dreams, scandals, betrayals, marriage and children.

In ‘The Evening and the Morning’, we encounter a small hamlet with approximately five buildings (I'm not going to spoil things and reveal its original name), and witness it grow and prosper into the busy town which is known as Kingsbridge in The Pillars of the Earth, and beyond. I'm embarrassed to admit it took me longer than it should have to recognise pre-Kingsbridge. It wasn't until the ferry was built that a light bulb went off.

Those familiar with the Kingsbridge trilogy will recall that each tomb has its share of wicked, corrupt, shady characters, who usually hold positions of power or dominance, which they abuse to spread hatred and discord, and carry out their revenge. Fans will also know that Follet is a firm believer in good triumphing over evil, and that even though the heroes and heroines face brutality, tragedy, challenges, adversary, and heartache, by the end the villains have received their much-deserved comeuppance and punishment. Content wise, I found this one tamer than the other books in the series, but prepare yourself for period typical violence and barbarity – torture, rape, abuse, war, poverty, disfigurement, disease etc.

The Pillars of the Earth was followed by two sequels, World Without End (my favourite because it incorporated the bubonic plague of the fourteen century) and A Column of Fire (which I own, but haven't yet read, set in the sixteenth century). All, including this one, can be read and enjoyed as standalones, since they are set in different centuries, with characters that are either descendants or ancestors. Ken Follet is a true talent, and The Evening and the Morning was an addictive, engrossing, epic experience, that I have no hesitation in recommending.

I'd like to thank Netgalley, Macmillan, and Ken Follet for the e-ARC.
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Fans of Ken Follett’s earlier ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ historical novel are likely to be equally pleased with this prequel. His storytelling skills continue to maintain the reader’s interest, despite the length of the book. The way in which the author develops characters is always an outstanding feature of his writing, and this aspect is well illustrated in ‘The Evening and the Morning’. 
Some readers may raise an eyebrow or two over characters who seem to exhibit views that would not be out of place in the current century and the detail over 10th century life that is hard to authenticate from historical sources. However, these are minor criticisms; the storytelling is first class and it will only be a confirmed misanthrope who does not enjoy Ken Follett’s eventual denouement. It’s great storytelling, rather than great literature, but none the worse for that. Recommended.
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You may think that given the current situation, being transported to a time when disease and inequality were rife wouldn't hold much escapism appeal. But oh, it does. It really does. I had no idea how much I needed another Kingsbridge novel, right now.

The Evening and the Morning acts as a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth, charting the rise of the bleak hamlet of Dreng's Ferry to the backdrop of the tales we know and love. You can't help but shiver the first time you read the words 'King's Bridge' - it's like meeting an old friend, and the words carry the weight of the knowledge of all that the next half a millennium holds for this remote river crossing. It's a delicious feeling.

Follett gifts us another fabulous cast, full of beautiful strong women in a man's world/evil clerics/kindly monks/local boys made good/venal aristocrats, and so on. I loved every single one of them, even the ones I loved to hate. Ragna, the Norman noble who arrives at Dreng's Ferry on a rainy evening having been tossed about at sea for weeks and being robbed by a local outlaw, is (probably predictably) my favourite. Edgar, whose heartbreak opens the tale, is a little bit self-righteous and simpering at times but oh, I loved him too. His loyalty and unswerving devotion to the woman he loves is the stuff of romantic legend. To mention each member of this sprawling cast would necessitate a piece of writing almost as long as TEATM (it's a hefty old tome), so I shan't - suffice to to say, Follett has crafted each one lovingly, with even the most minor cameos fully fleshed out.

The plot is, as with the other Kingsbridge tales, more of a chronicle of an era rather than a story with a neat beginning, middle and end (although the ending, while entirely predictable, is lovely and extremely satisfying). It's the story of many lives and their loves, hates, dramas and the mundanity of their day to day rituals, and how they all weave together. Just as TPOTE was the story primarily of the building of a cathedral, this is the story of the creation of a town. Of course, it's rich in impeccably researched detail (if you've ever wondered how to catch fish with a basket of weatherproof a wooden hut, Ken's your man), but it's never, ever dull. The mundanity of everyday life is as important to the story as the battles, the feuds, the murders and the sexual entanglements. This is the past red in tooth and claw - it's bloody and violent, but it's pretty raunchy too. As we have come to expect from Mr F.

I adored this. I truly hope that it's not the last we'll hear from Kingsbridge - a regency romp through the west country sounds like a delicious treat, doesn't it? A sort of 18 certificate Poldark. Yes please. But until such a thing comes to pass, I intend to re-read the other books in the series in order. Because we all need a little escapism, particularly now.

My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Ken Follett never fails to deliver gripping and highly entertaining stories. 
This one is no exception and I loved every moment of it.
The storytelling and the character development are excellent, the historical background vivid and well researched.
The tightly knitted plot kept me hooked till the end.
I strongly recommend it.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I've read and enjoyed all the Kingsbridge novels over the years (The Century trilogy is also great). They aren't complex books or "fancy literature" just cracking stories well told and this prequel which needs no knowledge of any of the other books is a fine addition to the cannon. The story just rolls along with the usual mix of a high born lady, a clever artisan, dastardly Bishops, monks and nuns, royalty and commoners with lots of intrigue, skullduggery and bad timing. There are lots of period details described in the clothing, food and farming practices. 
The story is set earlier than the other Kingsbridge books, in 997.  The plot revolves around Ragna, the daughter of Count Hubert of Cherbourg and Edgar, an English boat builders son. After the VIkings invade, Edgar's family is left destitute whilst Ragna hopes to marry Wilwulf an English Earldoman who she has has had a brief liason with. Wilfwulf's family includes the brutish Welgelm and the clever but morally bankrupt Bishop Wynstan. Edgar and his friend Brother Aldred strive to improve the lives of their fellow countrymen whilst Wilwulf's extended family seek to only profit for their own adavncement. This is a really enjoyable page turner of a book. I've been under a lot of stress of late (house move, financial woes, CoVid etc.) and this book was a real tonic to read each night before bed, I was transported to the town of Shiring and could forget my own troubles for a while.
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ken follett weaves magic again! a brilliant prequel. from the arcane sense of mystery in the beggining to the 'surprise surprise'. the perfect historical fiction and your long read to get comfortable and read in the winter. the title is just perfectly apt with the story, indeed a treat to all kingsbridge fans. a perfect mix and ratio of reading elements.
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England 997 and Ragna of Normandy has arrived to marry the Ealdorman of Shiring.  However England is very different to Normandy, houses are made of wood, not stone and morals are lax.  Her husband has set aside his first wife and is concerned about raids from the Vikings.  Boatbuilder Edgar has lost everything to the Vikings, his livelihood and the woman he loves so his family has to start again as poor farmers.  Aldred is a monk who dreams of setting up a centre for education.  All three of them will go through tragedy, violence and betrayal as the century turns.
There is no-one to match Follett in terms of the epic historical novel.  This isn't really history, it's just excellent storytelling in a historical context.  I loved the pillars of the earth series and here with the prequel Follett visits Kingsbridge before it even exists.  Firmly bedded in the late Dark Ages the story races along and, yes, the sex scenes are cringeworthy but the reader gets totally engrossed.
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Yet another cracking read from one of the masters of this genre, well researched as usual, and superbly written tale about the growth of a village and its inhabitants. You are drawn in by the apparent simplistic writing that hides a clever way to draw the reader in to this fine tale of love, lust, power and betrayal, ( and ultimately love conquers all ).
A fine prequel to a stunning trilogy, Ok so now it's in 4 parts, but I am looking forward to the 5th  part of the trilogy anytime soon.
would I buy the book when published ---- already have done the deed.
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Another rollicking tale of medieval mayhem with corrupt bishops and lords vying with a french heroine and young boatbuilder in the early days of Kings Bridge. Full of larger than life characters this races along with murders and assaults all seemingly got away with until the final resolution. A fitting early tale that explains events to come in the later times of this superb series.
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Ultimate in comfort-blanket reading and in 2020, this is precisely what I need! 

Nothing about this book will come as a surprise to anyone who has read a Kingsbridge book.  The plot and characters follow a familiar, comfortable path and this isn't a bad thing, at all.  

It's well written and well constructed and delivers exactly what I've come to expect from Follett.
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I feel like I have waited an age for the publication of this book, but it was worth it. This book is outstanding and provides a back story to the Kingsbridge series wonderfully. In my opinion I felt the characters were more carefully considered and the scenery was described so well you felt you could have been there. 
Thank you so much for a tremendous read.
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“The Evening and the Morning” is the prequel to Ken Follett’s bestselling novel “The Pillars of the Earth” and tells the story how Kingsbridge cam to ist name at the beginning of the 11th century. It was published in September 2020 at Pan Macmillan. The German version is called “Kingsbridge: Der Morgen einer neuen Zeit” and was published at Lübbe. 

England, 997: The life of Edgar will change dramatically on this very morning. One moment he was planning to flee with his secret love and the next he saw Vikings attacking his home town. His family lost everything and had to start anew. They went to a Dreng’s Ferry and took over a run down farm who belong to Shiring. There dubious brothers had the power with a wicked bishop who was ready to do everything to achieve his goals.  
Brother Aldred was dreaming to change his abbey into a place of knowledge and learning. On his search for new books he even came to Normandy where he got to know the daughter of Count Hubert calles Ragna. He was impressed by her intelligence and their paths soon intertwined again as she came to Shiring as the bride of Wigelm of Shiring. 

If you buy Ken Follett you get Ken Follett. “The Evening and the Morning” is a typical Ken Follett novel. You know right from the start who is good and who is evil, you suspect who will come together and even the end is quite clear from the beginning. It might seem that this will be boring, but I didn’t feel this way and sometimes like to know in advance what I can expect from a story. 
I was pulled right away into the story. As a reader from Germany I like it that the vocabulary is quite simple. That doesn’t mean that it’s bad . For me it makes Ken Follett the perfect author for exploring real novels in a different language. 
The storyline is clear and the tension is rising with the progression of the book. The last 20% of this book were a little bit too much for me but it’s possible I would feel the same about Pillars of the earth which I read 15 years ago. But until then it was a feel good read. I’ve gained new information about the 11th century and the live at this time, I was feeling with the chracters and then it got a little bit to cruel, the actions of some persons became unconclusive and I couln’t grant the happy ending to everyone in this story. That’s sad because I wanted to love this book so much. 
But I guess this is also intended by the author. Ken Follett has a clear concept for his novels and he talks about this openly. There has to be a turning point every few pages, he likes that the persons in his stories are clearly good or evil and so I guess he calculated that this ending would lead to discussions about the book and ist ending. 
That sounds a little bit too negative as I enjoyed the novel most of the time. I’ve learned a lot about the time, the differences between Normans and Anglo-Saxons, the legal system and that christendom was already there but the rules were not followed strictly. There were some bizarre little facts and I’m sure Ken Follett has made his homework and researched well. 
I shared the emotions of the characters in the book. Not as intense as hoped but still enough that I cared for them. Ragna was very impressive with her grasp on people. She knew how to win people over, she could rule and thought strategic, she is very intelligent and obstacles couldn’t bring her down so easily. Sometimes she seemd a little bit too calculationg for my liking as she also had a very idealistic idea of love. 
Edgar was too good to be true. He believed in the one true love and was very loyal. When it comes to buildung he grasped the concept very quickly and could do it on his own most of the time. 
Aldred I liked for his eagerness for knowledge and his righteousness. I was impressed how persistent he was fighting for his dreams and how he dealt with setbacks. 
“The Evening and the Morning” is a novel where not the big historical moments are in the foreground. It’s a fictional story before an historical background. Only sometimes we hear about some historical event. There are no closing remarks just some acknowledgements. Also a table of persons is missing but as the number of persons is limited it’s not much of a problem. 

 Conclusion: A historical novel in typical Ken Follett style which knows how to to take you in. Well researched with a great set of characters although you can divide them easily into good and evil. The live of the people in the 11th century is in the foreground not the great historical events. Highly recommended for every Ken Follett Fan.
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I can’t tell you of how excited I was to hear that Ken Follett had written another book in his amazing Kingsbridge series and over the moon to recieve an advanced copy to review. The Evening and The Morning is the prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is the story of how the small hamlet of Dreng’s Ferry became the town of Kingsbridge, the setting for the origional three books. Set during the Dark Ages, when England was victim to Viking Raids in the south, and at war with Wales, this book tells the story of three very different characters whose lives become entwined by circumstance and fate, in their fight against those in power who use it for self gain. At over eight hundred pages this an epic and and engaging read,that is well worth reading.

I can’t believe that it is thirty years since Ken Follett wrote The Pillars of the Earth one of the best historical fiction books that I have ever read, so The Evening and The Morning had a lot to live up to. I thought this book excelled all expectations for me and reminded me why I love this series so much. It is a big read at over eight hundred pages, but Ken Follett’s effortless writing style makes it an enjoyable and easy read that just draws you in and doesn’t let go. The Dark Ages is a period of history that I know very little about but Ken Follett really brought it alive for me in a very accessable and intriguing way. I was fascinated at how the countrty was run, the politics, religion, and the social history of the daily lives of the people. I was amazed at how they built churches, bridges etc with only basic tools and most tradesmen were illiterate, as were some leaders unbelievably. After finishing this book I feel I have a renewed passion for the history of this period, and a better understanding of the challenges of everyday life and how people adapted themselves to circumstance.

The plot of the book is told through the three main characters, from differnent walks of life giving a rounded view of the period. Edgar is an eighteen year old boat builder whose family business was destroyed during a Viking raid. Edgar and his family find themselves having to turn their hands to farming to survive but it is Edgar’s carpentry skills that see him set on his own path, one that sees him take on challenges he never expected. Brother Aldred, a young monk who continually fights against the corruption of the church, which lands him in a lot of trouble. But Brother Aldred is not someone to give up easily and when he finds himself in charge of the monastery at the small hamlet of Deng’s Ferry, a punishment from the Bishop,he decides to turn the monastery around, and bring more people to the church, laying the foundations for the Kingsbridge monastery that is at the centre of The Pillars of the Earth. The final character, and my favourite was Lady Ragna of Cherbourg who comes to England to marry Wilwulf, the ealdorman of Shiring. It is a huge shock for her coming to England, with the rain and different living conditions. She marries for love but soon finds her expectations destroyed and a the centre of a power battle between three brothers. She may be hampered by social conventions, but her strength, intelligence and determination make her a powerful and difficult adversary as she fights for her family. Three very different characters find themselves joining forces to fight against the corruption and nepotism of those in charge.

The plot of The Evening and The Morning is multi layered and complex with an amazing supportive cast of characters, not all likeable but all memorable. So much happens in the space of the ten year time line that there is never a dull moment. There is political machinations, corruption in the church and from those in power locally, murder, romance, and war.

The Evening and The Morning is one of the best historical novels I have read in a long time and is a worthy prequel to The Pillars of the Earth. The effortless prose and the wonderfully drawn characters grabbed me from page one and pulled me into the world of Edgar, Brother Aldred and Lady Ragna. It takes skill to write a detailed historical novel without bogging the reader down, but Ken Follett manages this with perfection, making all eight hundred pages a joy to read. If you love historical fiction then this is a must read; simply spectacular.
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