Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

Reviewer: Liza Perrat, author of Spirit of Lost Angels and Wolfsangel

What we thought: Translated from Spanish, and set in 14th century Barcelona around the building of the magnificent Santa Maria del Mar––Cathedral of the Sea––in the Ribera district, I really enjoyed this book.

The main character, Arnau Estanyol is the son of a fugitive peasant who starts out as a lowly porter, carrying stones for the building of this cathedral. Arnau’s luck turns when King Pedro makes him a baron as a reward for his courage in battle. But the king also forces him to marry Eleonor, one of his wards, with who Arnau is not in love. His new-found social status and riches incite jealousy from those around him, who set about bringing Arnau down, all with terrible consequences.

Arnau's journey from slave to nobleman is the story of a struggle of good versus evil, Church versus State and brother versus brother.

I was impressed with Falcones’ knowledge of 14th century traditions, commerce and culture and his detailed research shines though in this rich and fascinating portrait of medieval society.

An epic tale of war, love, treason, plague, anti-Semitism and the Inquisition, I would recommend this to readers enjoying historical fiction of this era.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: Epic historical adventures like Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth.

Avoid if you don’t like: Stories in which almost every female suffers agonisingly.

Ideal accompaniments: Robust glass of vino tinto and tapas.

Genre: Historical Fiction in translation

Available from Amazon

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