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The Second Sleep

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  12,124 ratings  ·  1,708 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 glas
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 19th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group (first published August 20th 2019)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  12,124 ratings  ·  1,708 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
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
This almost succeeds. That is, almost, but not quite. 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 writes.
Diane S ☔
3.5 A versatile author who has tackled everything from Pompeii to the election of the pope in Conclave. In this one he presents the reader with another unique plot, one I will not discuss as it would be deemed as ruining the read for others. I will say it is done well, is a very interesting concept and presents a moral dilemma for a young priest. The characters are varied, and a few not what they seem.

The book was going along nicely, was thoroughly immersed in the story, wondering where it woul
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.
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 - Golden Reviewer
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
What a great twist at the end of Chapter 1. Rest of book, not so much.
Leslie Ray
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Fairfax is a young clergyman dispatched to a remote English village to perform a funeral for Father Lacy, the former priest in this village. While there, Christopher finds that Father Lacy was interested in artifacts from a previous age; an age of iphones, legos, keys, etc. that have survived an apocalypse. In this time, man is reverted to a medieval type existence where delving too much into the past is considered heresy.
This speculative fiction into a future planet is quite prevale
Manuel Antão
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Done to Death Already: "The Second Sleep" by Robert Harris

“The Second Sleep” is set 80 years in the future (which puts it at 2800 AD) though the year is described in the book as being “the Year of Our Risen Lord 1468”. I shall say no more…

I was so looking forward to reading Robert Harris's “The Second Sleep” that I think I gave it too much of a build up. I'm a fan of 'post-apocalyptic' novels and he's such a good author, it seemed a ma
Karl Jorgenson
Jan 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I had to guess why this book has a somewhat lower rating, it's because the ending, logically arrived at, is not filled with rainbows of hope. It's kind of a downer. Although, you can turn that assessment around and see the promise of humanity.
Second Sleep is a crazy departure for Harris. It's set in 15th century England, with all the mud, crude wine, feudally-oppressed peasants, fanatical priests burning heretics at the stake, and everybody getting pregnant by age 15, marrying at 16, having k
Bill Lynas
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Second Sleep is another fine story from Robert Harris. It opens in the year 1468, where we encounter a young priest travelling from Exeter (where I live!) to a remote Exmoor village.
In the first two chapters Harris creates some excellent characters & a wonderful atmosphere of time & place. Then I read the third chapter & found myself saying "What the fuck ?!"
It's great to see that one of my favourite authors still has the ability to surprise me. This is a novel that is best read without kno
Mr. Ronald
Hardly worth the bother.

Poor characters. Clever plot that goes nowhere. Leaden prose that struggles at describing motivations or time and place.
Don’t bother.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I have read almost all of Robert Harris' books, so you can definitely call me a fan. He usually writes historical fiction that is as imaginative as it is educational, so this books, a sort of dystopian reverse history was quite a departure. I am not a fan of dystopian books at all, so was only moderately excited to hear about this one, nonetheless, I couldn't quite resists and had to see what it was about. It took me a good while longer than usual with his books to get into this story, i ...more
Clemens Schoonderwoert
Without prejudice I have to say that this is somewhat of a disappointing book in my opinion, from this otherwise superb author.

This book is compared to the Cicero trilogy, An Officer an a Spy, Enigma, Pompeii and other classic titles from this author, certainly and definitely inferior in style and quality.

At the beginning of the book you'll notice two epigraphs who'll play an important part in this story.

Storytelling is as ever of a very good quality, the story flows from begin to end, no doubt
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 Sle
Julian Worker
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book set in 1468 in the Middle Ages of the future, an intriguing idea which takes some getting used to. I didn't realise the basic premise until the word Elizabethan was used and even then I thought the date in the front of the book might be wrong, but it's not of course.

This book is easy to read and well written, as you expect from Robert Harris.

This book does make me realise how much we rely on electricity to power our devices and machinery and how much information about our lives would be

Desperate food for thought. This was my first experience with this author and I loved it.

“If the ancients were foolish enough to trade with airy tokens, 'tis no wonder they were ruined. It both made their vast trade possible and rendered them beggars when it failed. Consider waking up one morning entirely destitute, with skills no longer of value or any use in the struggle for life! Their world was based upon imagining—mere castles made of vapour. The wind blew; it vanished.”
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
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 be
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-set-in-uk
A 'medieval' mystery set in WESSEX

The Second Sleep is set in the Year of the Risen Lord 1468. A newly ordained priest is sent on a mission to Wessex to bury a village minister who has just died. The reader thinks that maybe Robert Harris has been careless when he talks about parakeets in the air and the dead minister has what appears to be an old iPhone in his room. But all soon becomes clear (not a spoiler because it is revealed very early…), We are not in 1468 as we would understand it. We are
Dec 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was sometimes amusing, sometimes alarming, and was probably fun to write. It introduces us to a time in the future, long past the apocalypse, where the surviving population is fearful and held to strictures about what it is possible to think about, know or do. The people have to at least be survivors, but there seems little evidence of joy in living.
The church holds power and one of its representatives is the main character we meet, a priest coming from afar to temporarily replace one
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
Eric Lee
Oct 07, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, time-travel
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 o ...more
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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. ...more
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
Dec 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Something a bit different from the author's previous novels, which were straight historical fiction or alternative historical fiction: "What-if" novels, if you will. Transition from one era to the other well done in this story. I couldn't put the book down and once I figured out the premise--technology will end up biting us--I was shivery all through. I was confused for awhile, though. The first half I thought better than the last. I liked the scene-setting and the slow build-up. The final revea ...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
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-books, 2020
This novel has been compared to A Canticle for Leibowitz. The storyline is the same - present society and technology no longer exists. No one knows what really happened or why but a new feudal type of society exists. The church is now the governing body and looking into the past is heresy. So when a young priest, Christopher Fairfax is sent to an isolated village to bury the late Father Lacey, he discovers Lacey had been looking into the village's long buried secrets to the past. ...more
This was a very inventive novel which is on its face a historical thriller, but Harris gives it a great twist.

I really enjoyed the setting. It had a cold wet and claustrophobic feel and the main characters was engaging and sympathetic. The plot was a slow burn but the ending felt a little forced.

This was my first book by this author.
Dan Myatt
So difficult to review with out spoiling it! So basically it was incredibly well written and with a brilliant storyline that kept me hooked and guessing throughout!

Shocks, adventures and mysteries galore.
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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

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“And we also know that almost every person, including children, was issued with a device that enabled them to see and hear one another, however far apart in the world they might be; that these devices were small enough to be carried in the palm of one’s hand; that they gave instant access to all the knowledge and music and opinions and writings in the world; and that in due course they displaced human memory and reasoning and even normal social intercourse – an enfeebling and narcotic power that some say drove their possessors mad, to the extent that their introduction marked the beginning of the end of advanced civilisation.” 1 likes
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