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Sarum: The Novel of England
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Sarum: The Novel of England

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  32,486 Ratings  ·  1,080 Reviews
The unforgettable #1 bestselling novel of England from the ancients to the '80s, Sarum is a brilliantly conceived, superbly written masterpiece of breathtaking scope which traces the entire turbulent course of English history. Covering a period of 10,000 years, this compelling saga tells of five families who preserve their particular characteristics over successive generat ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 1035 pages
Published June 12th 1988 by Ivy Books (first published 1987)
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Patrick Trisler
Apr 20, 2007 Patrick Trisler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now this is a good Stonehenge book. Along with anything else that ever happened in Great Britain. This is one of those books that you have to say is 'sweeping in it's scope.' This book starts with neolithic man arriving in the Sarum area and follows certain bloodlines all the way to present day. It's huge. I learned more about British history with this book than I have with any history text book. I think its because its always presented from an individual as opposed to a national standpoint. Its ...more
James Walker
Jul 12, 2007 James Walker added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Sarum is one of the most amazing books that I have ever read. It was almost magical reading. It was a book that just stuck with you so much that I actually dreamed about it. It was one of the few books I wished would never end and I felt almost lost once it was finished. It was like coming down off a high.
Jan 03, 2008 Kate rated it it was amazing
It took me a long time to read this one, it's huge but worth it. It's a history lesson disguised as fiction, and it's gorgeous.

The book follows five families from prehistoric to modern day, jumping through some of the most important moments in the history of Sarum and England. The last two chapters were the most heart wrenching for me, but there are a lot of moments like that. Rutherford doesn't try to make it happily ever after, it's real life and believeable.

I can't wait to get started on his
Mar 11, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!
This is my favorite author. This is the first book that I read from this author. I love this genre. I found it fascinating how Rutherford takes really believable characters and reinvents them in every chapter. I love how the characteristics of each family are passed down through the generations. I also love how the stories tell the tales of how history changes an area throughout the centuries. This is a must read book!
Tara DePompei
Oddest thing -- it is the best and most compelling book that I did not like reading at all. Don't get me wrong -- I am duly impressed by Rutherford's undertaking and his research (although sometimes flawed or biased). Further, the idea is spectacular. The problem was that I did not enjoy it -- I felt I went from story to story, from generation to generation, as more of an obligation as opposed to an interest. I frankly did not care at all about any of these people. My feeling at the last page wa ...more
Feb 04, 2009 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buffs
Recommended to Kate by: Marvin
Shelves: read-in-2009
This book was suggested to me after I reviewed Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, both of which are set in the fictional (I think) English town of Kingsbridge. Like the Follett books, Sarum is also set in an English cathedral town, Salisbury, but that's where the similarities end.

Sarum sweeps across the history of England, from the island's physical break from the continent through WWII. Five main families are followed throughout the novel, and as names and circumstances c
May 10, 2009 Terri rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Quantity not quality.
I have to admit, I was more than a little surprised when I came to this book on Goodreads to leave a review and saw all the glowing reviews. I expected maybe a couple 4 stars and mostly 3 stars, but that is not what I found. I found all 4 stars and 5 stars. How can this be?
I enjoyed the first chapter of this book so much that I was excited that there would be 1400 pages more of it. By Chapter 2 however, my excitement was blown out of the water. Rutherfurd's writing style ha
May 22, 2009 Mick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took my dear sweet time reading this novel, and cherished every second. Historical fiction works, and works well, when it can be lingered over, savored; when it can be read, then re-read, as the author's glowing accounts of historical events come to life right off the page.

James Michener was a master of this craft; Edward Rutherfurd aptly keeps him company, as evidenced by his sweeping novel, SARUM. Set in the author's hometown of Salisbury, England, this is a novel that tells the rich histor
Jun 05, 2011 Ed rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction fans
This was a monstrous undertaking: to cover the history of England from Neolithic times to post WW II. Rutherford does an excellent job. Reading the over 1000 page tome took a long time, not that I ever considered putting it down or abandoning it. I think, though, doing the book as a two volume work, Old Sarum and New Sarum, might have eased things somewhat.

The story covers 10,000 years, through the vehicle of tracing five families who maintain certain characteristics throughout. The narrative s
Jan 07, 2010 Ashley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I love Edward Rutherfurd, I really do. But... this book has to be one of his worst.

Pros: The first 400 pages or so are amazing. But once I got into the 1300's... my interest started dwindling fast. I love historical fiction, and for the avid historical fiction reader (especially British history, or European history in general), Edward Rutherfurd is the guy for you.

Cons: Like I said, after about 400 pages, I started to lose interest fast. It seemed SUPER boring to me, and I could only read about
Jul 21, 2010 Barbra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely magnificent novel some 1350 pages long. Don't be put off by this because you will miss out on a superb book.

Back Cover Blurb:
The towering story of five families through 100 centuries of turmoil, tyranny, passion and prosperity.
In a novel of extraordinary richness the whole sweep of British civilisation unfolds through the story of one place, Salisbury, from beyond recorded time to the present day.
The landscape - as old as time itself - shapes the destinies of the five famil
Sep 02, 2010 Krishna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Stanley
Jan 31, 2011 John Stanley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarum is nearly 1000 pages so it took a long time to finish, but I loved it. It follows about four or five families in England from the end of the ice age to the 1980s (hence the long book). This book reminded me a lot of The Pillars of the Earth, though this book came out just before Pillars and I wouldn't be surprised if Ken Follet was influenced by this book. In fact, the fictional Kingsbridge Cathedral in Pillars was based on Salisbury Cathedral, the building of which is featured prominently ...more
May 29, 2014 Ty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Given that I, slow reader that I am and often in need of days long breaks from a narrative of any size was able to finish, without skimming, a 1,033 page novel, said novel must have had something going for it. Sarum certainly does on several levels. I will say, however, one should go into it completely aware of its nature, and should treat it as a marathon, not a sprint.

Some books in the 800+ page range can be treated more like sprints. The latter Harry Potter books for example. While they by no
May 14, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To call this 900+ tome a saga is selling it short because this ambition undertaking by Rutherford encompasses the history -- from the last iceage, Michener-esque style -- right up to the 1980s of present day Salisbury, England. Generations of the same handful of fictional families are traced and through them, Rutherford gives what is perhaps the most comprehensive history of this area that includes ancient Stonehenge. Not for the faint of heart. But well worth the read, especially if you plan on ...more
Jonathan-David Jackson
This is the first book of its kind I've read, and probably the only book I've ever read that I think can properly be called 'epic'. It's a series of chronologically ordered short stories about the people and history of Salisbury in England, starting around 10,000 BC and ending around 2000 AD. I enjoyed it most because of how it took me through the history of England, and I learned a lot while also being entertained.

It takes you through hunter-gatherer times, the separation of England from mainla
The story of the small portion of humanity that settled in and developed Salisbury (“Sarum”: being an abbreviated rendering of the Roman name Sorbiodunum) from the stone age to the 1980s. Following the struggles, fortunes, tribulations, and remade fortunes of five lineages, the novel details how waves of invaders (Cro-Magnons, Normans, Romans, Vikings) changed the landscape, economy, and culture, from Stonehenge to livestock breeding to Cathedral building, but then were in turn changed by it and ...more
Richard Flewitt
Jan 16, 2012 Richard Flewitt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sarum is definitely what I would describe as a marathon read - I attempted the marathon more than 10 yrs ago, and events lead me on to other things.
The book clearly held a fascination for me and often called me when I walked past the book shelf! So, Northern Crete in August 2011 - I committed myself by including Sarum in my scanty allowance on a low cost airline, and the marathon began.
The novel traces back the history of man living in what is now the British Isles from around 10,000 years ago.
Gerry Haines
Dec 06, 2011 Gerry Haines rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really marvellous read -
this one follows the format that the author uses in all his work so far, he tells the story using ordinary folk who go through the momentous times in history.

In Sarum , we go back further into the past than ever before with Rutherford. we go right back to the end of the last ice Age and meet the people who get cut off from continental Europe by the rising sea levels.

We also watch as the first farmers arrive and make contact with the hunter gatherers already here. The cl
Dec 30, 2011 Johanne rated it it was amazing
On the cover of the copy of Sarum that I own, The Toronto Star states that "Rutherfurd reminds us that we are all part of a long line of human experience." I couldn't agree more.

This is truly a jewel of a book, the first book by Rutherfurd in his line of epic history-oriented novels that span the centuries of a whole country or a single city. For me, it's the second I read by the author (the first one being The Princes of Ireland). It is truly amazing; though, just like the scope of the storylin
Viv Bearne
Jan 16, 2012 Viv Bearne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarum is my all time favorite book, coming from the south west of England myself it is my history and so much research has gone into it. Many if not all of the great structures are still standing. A great read
Jan 25, 2012 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I spent a fair amount of time in and around Salisbury in the early 1980's, one of my favorite areas in Britain. While I was (and continue to be) fascinated by Stonehenge, I particularly recall being totally transfixed by Salisbury Cathedral the first time I visited as an American tourist. The soaring spire, the gorgeous light in the nave, and the sense of awe at its astonishing size. It was a glorious place, and a place that I still think about all these years later. In my estimation, no other c ...more
For anyone who likes multi-generational family sagas and wants to know more about the history of Stonehenge and its environs this long novel is worth a go. But I think to get the most bang for your reading buck, you should probably have at least a nodding acquaintance with English history in general and the history of English warfare as well as Catholic and Anglican church history before delving into Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd. In the edition I read, the author helpfully included some simple map ...more
Jun 11, 2012 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I greatly enjoyed Sarum. All 1033 pages of it.

Sarum is the first Edward Rutherford book I tackled, although his New York book has stared at me with longing on a shelf for years. Starting at the end of the last Ice Age, Sarum follows the generational paths of five families through time to the modern day. The book hits all the strong beats: the building of Stonehenge, the Roman Invasion of Britain and their colonization, the Dark Ages, Saxon Britain, the Norman Invasion, the War of the Roses, the
Bruce Black
Not a great book, maybe not even "good." But I found it an interesting way to absorb the history of England. It's long and covers several millennia but still skips a few centuries here and there. Unfortunately it assumes you already know the significance of 1066 and a few other important events in English history. It's told as personal stories, following the fictitious families of different classes of people, their rise and fall from prosperity and society. For me it filled in some blanks, put o ...more
Dec 19, 2012 Ronald rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the novel well enough, but I was expecting something of the caliber of James Michener, and this certainly didn't deliver. The writing is wordy and overly passive. The character are rather flat. And his research fell short in developing his ancient culture of England. He uses corn as one of the first crops farmed on English soil, and even has it as such an intricate part of their culture that there is a corn festival and princes. It's all ridiculous because corn is a New World species t ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my all time favorite books and I have lent copies to several people. This book made me aware of how much I could learn from reading and listening to historical novels. I too am a slow reader and I must admit that I put this book down about 1/3 of the way thru on first read from mere exhaustion. However, I did resume it and was so glad that I did--in fact so glad that I reread it! I too learned so much history from it and was delighted to have insights into the area when I visited. ...more
Oct 12, 2016 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Long-toed riverfolk, scheming farmer-peasants, impoverished descendants of Normans and Romans
This is another book that gets 5 stars for being a great big hunk of enjoyable cheese. But it's historical cheese!

Sarum tells the entire history of England, from its ice-age prehistory when the first men arrived on the island to the 1980s, by focusing the passing of ages on the city of Salisbury, once known as "Sarum." Located on the edge of Salisbury Plain, at the juncture of five rivers, archeological evidence tells us it's been a trading settlement since prehistoric times (and of course, it i
Shawn Thrasher
Aug 21, 2014 Shawn Thrasher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audio version of this very long book, and was (mostly) spellbound. Nadia May is a marvelous reader-aloud; I'd like her tucked inside my head from here one out reading everything for me; I'm definitely finding out audio books narrated by her. The subtitle is "the story of England;" perhaps another subtitle could be added: "including murders, attempted rapes, pedophilia, adulterous affairs, theft, burning, hanging, and at least one case of witchcraft, with various other human dep ...more
Salley J Robins
Oct 02, 2015 Salley J Robins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This gem was picked up in an airport just before a very long flight. First thought - it's really thick - hope it's worth the excess weight! Then...hours and hours flew by (literally and figuratively) while I was drawn in and riveted to the story. It's epic - eons of time and generations of characters and yet it is a flowing story, rich, satisfying, and full of historical detail. I became a Rutherfurd fan on that flight and the heavy book made the return trip to sit happily on our bookshelf. Disc ...more
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Francis Edward Wintle, best known under his pen name Edward Rutherfurd, was born in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood h ...more
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