‘It was hard to stay awake all night, Edgar found, even on the most important night of your life.’
A prequel to ‘The Pillars of the Earth’? I could not resist this. I first read ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ in 1990 and have reread it twice since.
The novel opens in 997 CE, with Edgar the boatbuilder’s son stealing out of his family home in the middle of the night. A Viking raid that same night turns his family’s life upside down. They lose their home and livelihood and must start life again on a farm at the small village of Dreng’s Ferry. The land is not great and neither Edgar nor his brothers are farmers. But they persist.
Meanwhile, Ragna, a Norman noblewoman falls in love with an English earl. They marry, but she finds life as his wife in England is not quite what she expected.
The novel covers a ten-year period. There is a readable mix of good and bad characters, of hardship and triumph. Edgar has plans, suffers setbacks but continues. As does Ragna.
I enjoyed this novel. It is over 800 pages, but I found it a quick and easy escapist read, a fitting prequel to ‘The Pillars of the Earth’.
What did I enjoy the most? Mr Follett’s description of place and time took me into the world he created and following the story of a couple of the characters kept me there.