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The Second Sleep

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3.56  ·  Rating details ·  1,964 ratings  ·  255 reviews
From the internationally best-selling author of Fatherland and the Cicero Trilogy--a chilling and dark new thriller unlike anything Robert Harris has done before.

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
...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: November 19th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published August 2019)
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  • The Second Sleep by Robert   Harris
    The Second Sleep
    by
    Release date: Nov 19, 2019
    From the internationally best-selling author of Fatherland and the Cicero Trilogy--a chilling and dark new thriller unlike anything Robert Harris has ...more

    Format: Print book

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    Availability: 25 copies available, 2739 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Oct 20 - Nov 19, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Popular Answered Questions
    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)

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 3.56  · 
    Rating details
     ·  1,964 ratings  ·  255 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 ano
    ...more
    Tammy
    Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
    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
    Ozymandias
    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 is vaguely cla
    ...more
    Gumble's Yard
    Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biphasi...) was the norm in the pre-Industrial Revolution West.

    The second is from Thoma
    ...more
    Issicratea
    Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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 Sleep directly afte
    ...more
    Connor Hansford
    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 o
    ...more
    Catherine
    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.
    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,
    ...more
    Kate
    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.
    Mr. Ronald
    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.
    Leah
    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
    ...more
    Olivia
    Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    RTC. Interesting but needs further mulling over.
    Carey Combe
    Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Started well, but petered off somewhat. Loved the premise and well written as always.
    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 thing
    ...more
    Peter White
    Sep 11, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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 protagoni
    ...more
    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 Churc ...more
    Isabel Ogilvie
    Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Another great read by Robert Harris, right up until the end. Disappointing ending.
    Kate Vane
    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 t
    ...more
    Veeral

    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 ro
    ...more
    Tracey
    Oct 29, 2019 rated it liked it
    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.
    John Lee
    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 t
    ...more
    Wendy
    Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
    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 i
    ...more
    Mark Ellis
    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.
    Megan Jones
    Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ...more
    Flo
    Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Brian
    Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    The Second Sleep is set in England eight hundred years in the future. After the collapse of technology brought about by some unknown catastrophe, people have reverted to a medieval world view and to a society rigorously controlled by an all-powerful church.

    The plot focuses on a young cleric sent to conduct the funeral of a parish priest in a tiny rural backwater, his discovery that the dead man had been engaging in heretical enquiries into the past, and the impact of that discovery upon his und
    ...more
    AdiTurbo
    Oct 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
    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" mome ...more
    Pam Tickner
    Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Henri
    Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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
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    4,118 followers
    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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