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The Second Sleep

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  1,197 ratings  ·  154 reviews
All civilisations think they are invulnerable. History warns us none is.

1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

Kindle Edition, 330 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Cornerstone Digital
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Lisa When I build my time machine and travel to the future, I'll let you know ...
Ruth Yes, go for it. There are parallels with Fatherland, of a sort. Harris is treading new ground with The Second Sleep. I'm trying to avoid writing…moreYes, go for it. There are parallels with Fatherland, of a sort. Harris is treading new ground with The Second Sleep. I'm trying to avoid writing spoilers but there is an interesting twist fairly early on and I would think that would be far more satisfying if you haven't read reviews.

I think Harris must have been having a bad year when he wrote Fear Factor. I felt it read like a film pitch.

Conclave is worth a go (not on your list). I read it at New Year and had the unusual experience of calling to the family "will be with you soon, just want to find out who becomes Pope." My book club enjoyed it too.

Le Carre: I was completely bowled over by The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and read book after book, trying to capture the same experience. I never did - although his recent A Legacy of Spies was an interesting alternative view on what happened in Berlin and afterwards. (less)

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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,197 ratings  ·  154 reviews

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Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a departure for Harris and one that almost succeeds. As usual the writing is terrific as he captures a time and a place that seems historically familiar yet is not what it appears to be. Again, as usual, the characters are well drawn and the pace builds nicely gaining momentum as you read further. I wasn’t overly enthused about the ending which led me to think, “All of this for that?” If you are a fan of Harris’ I would recommend reading this since it’s so different from what he usually ...more
Gumble's Yard
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
More than thousand years had washed over England since those days a civilisation had fallen and another had been reborn, and life went on in Addicot St George as if nothing had happened.

The book starts with two important epigraphs.

The first from the historian Roger Ekirch’s now (I think) well known discovery/contention that biphasic sleep ( was the norm in the pre-Industrial Revolution West.

The second is from Thomas Hardy’s “Mayor of Castlebridge” –
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
This is a book where spoilers are absolutely unavoidable if you want to write any sort of review, so I’ll make the general observations upfront before getting into spoiler territory.

This book is a very different animal from most Harris books I’ve read. It’s very atmospheric and rather constrained, with most of the story being told in narration. While written in the third person, we never leave Christopher Fairfax’s head to see elements beyond his perception, and this absolutely works. The style
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a book to approach, ideally, without reading a single review or any advance publicity, if you want to get the full effect of the twist in the first chapter. Even if you don’t have that advantage (I didn’t), it’s an intriguing and thought-provoking read, although less weighty and compelling than Harris’s Dreyfus-themed An Officer and a Spy (2013)—now a film by Polanski—and perhaps also less elegant and finished than his Vatican-themed Conclave (2016).

By pure chance, I read The Second Sle
Maine Colonial
Imagine if suddenly technology ended. No electronics or even electricity, no wired or wireless communications. Civilization would collapse quickly, and only those able to get out to the countryside and adapt to a primitive lifestyle would survive.

That’s what has has happened in The Second Sleep. The story begins in what appears to be a late medieval Wessex village, in 1468. Only it’s not our 1468. The Church, which is now all powerful, designated the year of the collapse as year 666, and we are
Connor Hansford
Sep 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
Oh dear oh dear. Don't get me wrong, genre crossovers, properly executed, can work really well but, being a copy editor, I fail to see how a post apocalyptic future could precisely resemble medieval England without any point of reference. Not only that, the notion, repeated throughout, that our modern structures are insufficiently robust to survive 900 years into the future is nonsense. Plus, I thought the ending was rubbish, but I'm not going to spoil that for you.

Robert Harris is one of the au
There's a reason why Robert Harris is a contender for my favourite author of all time and The Second Sleep reminds me why. I want to say as little as possible about this wonderful novel that challenges completely readers' expectations and assumptions. It is not what you think it is! I would urge you not to read any reviews of this book as you want to go in knowing as little as possible. Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.
History through heresy...

It’s 1468, and young priest Christopher Fairfax is hurrying to reach the village of Addicott St George before curfew. He has been sent by his bishop to officiate at the funeral of the village’s priest, Father Lacy, who has died in a fall from the local landmark known as the Devil’s Chair. But once installed at the rectory, Christopher discovers that Father Lacy had been a collector of antiquities, some of them prohibited by the Church, and he soon has reason to wonder if
Carey Combe
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Started well, but petered off somewhat. Loved the premise and well written as always.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
RTC. Interesting but needs further mulling over.
Dolf Patijn
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You start reading this book and all of a sudden you think "hold on a minute, there's something wrong here". Then you continue on reading and you think "nah, big mistake". Then you continue on reading and think "ah, now I get it". It's that kind of a book.

What you can say after reading this book is that whatever the era, the acquisition of knowledge is always the means to an end, be it gaining and consolidating power and controlling people by what you know and they don't, making things better for
Kate Vane
Sep 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I take some trouble to avoid major plot spoilers in my reviews, but in this one I’m having to avoid giving away the premise, which is tricky. It’s the year 1468 and a priest named Christopher Fairfax travels on horseback from Exeter Cathedral to a remote Exmoor village. The parish priest there, Father Lacey, has just died and he is to oversee the arrangements.

Fairfax becomes intrigued by the manner of Lacey’s death — and by the lady of the manor, the widowed Lady Durston. He learns that Lacey ha
Isabel Ogilvie
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great read by Robert Harris, right up until the end. Disappointing ending.
Mark Ellis
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Robert Harris is one of my favourite modern writers. He has come up with a very imaginative idea about a British medieval world set 800 years in the future after an unspecified apocalyptic event. Unfortunately it seems he couldn’t find a way to end his story. Beautifully written as always but ultimately disappointing.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Five stars for the concept and the first half of the book which was engrossing. Zero stars for the second half and the all-of-a-sudden half-baked ending.
Peter White
Sep 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
Second sleep Harris

Found the book very very disappointing not mr Harris I have enjoyed with his other books.
Poor plot , pathetic ending
Very expensive book and audio for what I got out of it.
Peter white
Mr. Ronald
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Hardly worth the bother.

Poor characters. Clever plot that goes nowhere. Leaden prose that struggles to describing be motivations or time and place.
Don’t bother.
Megan Jones
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artefacts – coins, fragments of glass, human bones – which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death? As Fairfax is drawn more deeply into the isolated community, everything he believes – about himself, his faith and the history of his world – is tested to destruction.

It has been well documented th
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Robert Harris always comes up with a fascinating plot and a well written story. He has done it again in The Second Sleep, imagining a world in which our technology has led life as we know it to be destroyed and lost. The Church has risen again and it's heresy to study science. It is now 800 years in the future (this could be the marvelous A Canticle for Liebowitz where monks pore over and illuminate a grocery list by a man named Liebowitz as a source of worship). Here people find small plastic b ...more
John Lee
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
I am an admirer of this author's work and so I grabbed this one as soon as I saw it. I knew nothing of the subject matter and the title gave little away but I was relying on my faith in the author. The last three books of his that I have read 'An Officer and a Spy', ' Munich' and 'Conclave' covered three vastly different topics and in my scoring dropped only one point in total.

This one is different and I believe it is the author's first venture into this genre. However, I dont want to say anythi
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
I love reading Robert Harris because he is an intelligent and compelling storyteller.

This book has a brilliant premise: post-apocalyptic England, post-science, and technology, we are thrust into a moody, medieval backwater tracing the steps of a deceased heretic priest. We are (again) in a world where Religion controls daily life and the minds of the people.

Different from McCarthy's The Road and Jim Crace's The Pesthouse (both excellent), Harris is exploring what people in the 21st Century, pred
Pam Tickner
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really intriguing premise, civilisation has collapsed due to a technology breakdown and life has gone back to the dark ages and ruled by the Church (traces of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novels here). A priest investigates the death of the pastor of a small community has finds his faith challenged. Really gripping until the end which was an anticlimax for me.
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy a bit of Robert Harris. He's done something completely different with this book which was brave and it went quite well. Absolutely love the way his books always start so slow and increase in urgency and excitement to render a book almost unputdownable for the reader and this had the same effect I just felt that it took longer and it wasn't so drastic. Some of the narrative jumping back and forth was hard to follow though. Plot wist was superb.

3.5 stars
Sep 13, 2019 marked it as to-read
2* Imperium (Cicero, #1)
TR Lustrum (Cicero, #2)
TR Dictator (Cicero, #3)
3* Pompeii
3* Selling Hitler
4* Fatherland
3* The Ghost
TR An Officer and a Spy
TR Conclave
TR The Second Sleep

Pat Walsh
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
DNF. I could not get into this book - the pace was much too slow to really hold my attention, which is a shame as the writing was good. I may come back to it again.
Colin Stump
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
A compelling read, with a double-take moment early on that makes it even more of a page turner.
But the ending was rushed, and so much more could have been made of this fine story.
Laura Newsholme
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a surprising book! It tells the story of Christopher Fairfax, a parson, who is tasked with conducting the funeral service for the priest Father Lacy in a remote Exmoor village in 1468. From the first, there are little things in the narrative that suggest everything is not what it seems and the plot went in a direction I really didn't expect, making this a very original and compelling story. The characters are a little bit one dimensional at times, but at others there is a real sens ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canton-book-club
Some months back I read The President is Missing which has the US President trying to stop a cyber-terrorist destroying the world's computers. There is a description of what might happen: no cash machines and no card payments at shops so people very soon can't buy food; no computers running fuel depots so lorries can't supply shops; no petrol stations so medical staff can't get to hospitals; hospital back-up generators start to fail; no computers running our power stations so the lights and heat ...more
Maura Heaphy Dutton
The Name of the Rose meets Riddley Walker. My advice to you, sadly, is to read either one -- or both -- of those books instead.

I say "sadly" because I like and admire Robert Harris. The novels by him that I have read seemed both readable and thoughtful, cleverly bolting a sub-text worth thinking about to a page-turner thriller. "Admire" because I really like authors who are willing to mix it up a bit -- trying different genres, springing surprises and otherwise ensuring that they don't write the
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, own, vine
This book had me fooled at first! I wasn’t expecting a post-apocalyptic story, considering the summary said it took place in 1468. It certainly had a medieval atmosphere to it, but then I caught hints in the first few chapters like tobacco use and the abundance of clocks. It wasn’t until our main character discovered “artifacts” that included plastic and an iPhone that I realized something cataclysmic had occurred to send the world back into the dark ages.

The aforementioned character is a priest
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Ending - *Spoilers* 1 1 Oct 01, 2019 04:36AM  
ROBERT HARRIS is the author of nine best-selling novels: Fatherland, Enigma, Archangel, Pompeii, Imperium, The Ghost Writer, Conspirata, The Fear Index, and An Officer and a Spy. Several of his books have been adapted to film, most recently The Ghost Writer, directed by Roman Polanski. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages. He lives in the village of Kintbury, England, with his ...more
“church that he guessed must have stood square on this land for at least a thousand years; more likely fifteen hundred. Wrapped” 0 likes
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