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The Second Sleep

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  2,759 ratings  ·  381 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 (first published August 20th 2019)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,759 ratings  ·  381 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
***It is impossible to discuss this book with any level of intelligence without revealing aspects that some of you will deem spoilers. Ye have been warned. Any childish rants on my thread and ye will be cursed for all eternity. Thy spawn will also be cursed until the end of days. (Which frankly isn’t that far in the future, so as curses go, it is not as dire as it sounds.)***

”We know that almost every person, including children, was issued with a device that enabled them to see and hear one
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
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
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” –
Elizabeth Ireland
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
What a great twist at the end of Chapter 1. Rest of book, not so much.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
This was a full 4 star read until the last 70 to 75 pages. Who am I to question such an author's turn to complete this tale? But suffice it to record I would have given a more complete or satisfying to actions/reactions ending. Because the characters- at least 5 or 6 of them were fully carved here. And yet the summation of after was not at all.

Some will insist that the book cannot be reviewed without spoilers. I'm pretty sure it can.

One of the biggest themes throughout mankind's existence has
Jacki (Julia Flyte)
It's hard to write a review of this without spoilers although I feel like the biggest spoiler is well and truly out there. It's set in Wiltshire in 1468 as a young priest is sent to a remote village to conduct the funeral of the village priest. We quickly realise that something is amiss with the dates and it emerges that the book is set some 800 years in the future. After the Apocalypse wiped out our way of life in 2025, the world has reverted to a more Medieval way of life, dominated by a ...more
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
Jack (That English Guy who Reads)
In this novel, Harris successfully transports you into the future, though it appears much like the past, due to the fact that our civilisation has collapsed and the surviving generations have very much "started again".

It is this concept which makes this novel so invigorating; I've never come across a future dystopian world quite like it. The world of this novel feels so real and authentic because it so mirrors our past, in a way which is strikingly and scarily feasible.

The protagonist

A post-apocalypse pastoral. This is the sub-genre in which this novel falls into. Or more precisely, sub-sub-genre, as post-apocalypse is a sub-genre itself of science (speculative) fiction. So what is a post-apocalypse pastoral? Basically, a book set in a timeline so far ahead in the future after the apocalypse that the apocalypse itself is half forgotten and the people's lifestyle is more or less similar to what was in the Medieval era.

This novel is set in rural "Medieval era type" England
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it
RTC. Interesting but needs further mulling over.
Carey Combe
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Started well, but petered off somewhat. Loved the premise and well written as always.
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
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a great read. From a plot point of view - (view spoiler)- there are quite a few problems. For me, the social and economic world set up here didn't quite hold up to close examination. At least I thought so, until the last few pages, when I thought again. Still, there were implausibilities for me, and the ending was frustratingly unresolved. In a way, (view spoiler) ...more
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
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,
Isabel Ogilvie
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another great read by Robert Harris, right up until the end. Disappointing ending.
Eric Lee
Oct 07, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: time-travel, thriller
Robert Harris often has the very best ideas for his books, but sometimes the book itself is a real let-down. The Second Sleep is an example of this. First of all, his good idea -- the big reveal -- comes very early in the book. What seems at first to be a tale set in Medieval England turns out to be set 800 years in the future -- as we quickly learn when an Apple iPhone turns up unexpectedly. And that's basically it. Nothing else very interesting happens. The books builds up to the digging out ...more
Ray Palen
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found the genre tag for this novel difficult to label as Robert Harris has spent the better part of his career writing stellar Historical Fiction stories. He has also shown that he can write suspense with the best of them as his novel THE GHOST WRITER proved. However, THE SECOND SLEEP is unlike anything Robert Harris has ever written before. Actually, this novel is unlike anything else I have read this entire year as it deftly blends historical fiction, thriller and even elements of ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had such high hopes when I started reading this as I love Robert Harris but was slightly disappointed as the story didn’t have me as gripped as I thought it was going to at the start.
David Brady
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was ok
I’ve liked some of Harris’s other books - eg An Officer and a Spy, and I find it hard to believe this is the same writer.
So many flaws of logic and plot insensibilities. And frankly not a lot happens. Pretty much a waste of time. Sorry.
Oct 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
DNF. What happened here? How does the author who wrote such amazingly good novels such as An Officer and a Spy, an earlier Engima etc. goes so low as to write this contrived, unoriginal cautionary tale, another banal novel about the "risks" of technology? I was quite enjoying the first couple of chapters till I reached the first "reveal," which enlightened me to the fact that I was not reading the kind of novel I thought I was reading, but another kind altogether. It was such a sad "Oh, no" ...more
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Ending - *Spoilers* 1 9 Oct 01, 2019 04:36AM  

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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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