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By Joseph on 01-31-10
Very good historical novel.
The point of the novel is the historical setting as much as the characters, so if you don't like historical detail, there's not a lot of reason to read it, or complain about the detail if you do. If you don't like cheese, don't order a pizza.
This is good historical novel, with a strong setting and enough detail to make the characters and their actions make sense. The story takes place over two generations in 14th century Barcelona, and is about class, wealth, political intrigue, trade, and of course social conditions in a time of great change. While there is plenty of romance, revenge, abuse, family, and all the elements of mainstream novels, the central story is still the historical setting. Women are horribly abused, Jews are persecuted, serfs are treated like dogs, and all is taken for granted because that was the history of the era.
Throughout, though, the writer deliberately demonstrates these horrors as, well, horrible, and that is much of the point of the book--the strife to overcome these issues and live as well as possible. It is well done.
There are some shortcomings. The writer is a bit unsophisticated at working the historical lessons into the scenes, so at times he describes too much without enough action. And the construction of the novel is a little simplistic at times--most mysteries are wrapped up quickly, before new scenes are begun. Doesn't quite earn the label "eposidic," but close. Also, some scenes don't ring true--characters do things that are way out of character at times.
The novel is easily compared to Follet's two medieval novels, rightfully so, but there are differences. Falcones is less melodramatic, less manipulative, and less cheesy (mostly), but he's not as good at the larger setting as Follet, and the story isn't quite as layered. It's also not nearly as long.
Overall, I loved it, but it was a bit weak on development, though the setting made up for it. Follet fans will probably like it.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful
By cjwheeler on 10-23-09
Almost as good a pillars of the earth. Twice as good as world without end.
As always bad things happen to good people, and to the bad as well.
It cover a lot of layers of society. From the Bastaixos,(a human mule) to serfs and slaves. to the church, warriors, kings and nobles, who usually are not. Some history but not over done, in fact i could have used just a little more.
I liked the story, it held my interest the whole way through. the narrator was great, different voices for different charactors.(my favorite was Sahat/Guillem, deep baritone) he was easy to understand and still used a accent, VERY GOOD.
Give it a try. I think you'll like it.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful