Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sarum: The Novel of England” as Want to Read:
Sarum: The Novel of England
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sarum: The Novel of England

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  29,470 ratings  ·  973 reviews
A masterpiece that is breathtaking in its scope, SARUM is an epic novel that traces the entire turbulent course of English history. This rich tapesty weaves a compelling saga of five families who preserve their own particular characteristics over the centuries, and offer a fascinating glimpse into the future.
Hardcover, 912 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by Gramercy (first published 1987)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
59th out of 5,311 books — 20,539 voters
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
Big Fat Books Worth the Effort
94th out of 1,363 books — 5,977 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
James Walker
Jul 12, 2007 James Walker added it
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.
Patrick Trisler
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
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
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
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
Viv Bearne
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
Nov 28, 2013 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Richard Flewitt
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.
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
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
Salley Robins
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
Gerry Haines
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
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
Shawn Thrasher
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
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
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
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
Feb 04, 2009 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
Mar 11, 2008 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
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!
John Stanley
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
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
This novel takes place in Salisbury, England once called Sarum. Beginning with prehistory and continuing with descendants of the same five families until 1985, this book is nearly 900 pages long.
Some parts I read with complete absorption and learned stuff I didn't know. Other parts I had to slog through. I barely avoided abandoning it during these parts and read gamely on. Sure enough I would come to another absorbing part. If you don't love history, this is not the book for you as the character
I'm not actually sure how one reviews such a book as Sarum. The first thing that you must know is that it is 912 pages. That's 912 pages all written about a core group of families that live in a small river valley in the south of England. This is the England of Stonehenge and the Avon river, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral. Our story begins in prehistoric times as ancient peoples made their way from the north to the warmer south. As the centuries go by, the groups of people intertwine - they l ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
2015 Reading Chal...: Sarum: The Novel of England by Edward Rutherfurd 14 30 Apr 01, 2015 12:13AM  
White Wedding Dress? Not Red?? 5 70 Apr 19, 2013 06:47AM  
  • The Reckoning  (Welsh Princes, #3)
  • Fortune's Favorites (Masters of Rome, #3)
  • Dreaming the Eagle (Boudica, #1)
  • In a Dark Wood Wandering: A Novel of the Middle Ages
  • The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
  • The Source
  • I Am the Chosen King (The Saxon Series #2)
  • A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury
  • Stonehenge
  • The Winter Mantle
  • Aztec (Aztec, #1)
  • A Vision of Light (Margaret of Ashbury, #1)
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
More about Edward Rutherfurd...
London New York Paris The Princes of Ireland (The Dublin Saga, #1) Russka: The Novel of Russia

Share This Book

4 trivia questions
1 quiz
More quizzes & trivia...