Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Kingsbridge #0

The Evening and the Morning

Rate this book
It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Those in power bend justice according to their will, regardless of ordinary people and often in conflict with the king. Without a clear rule of law, chaos reigns.

In these turbulent times, three characters find their lives intertwined. A young boatbuilder's life is turned upside down when the only home he's ever known is raided by Vikings, forcing him and his family to move and start their lives anew in a small hamlet where he does not fit in. . . . A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land, but the customs of her husband's homeland are shockingly different, and as she begins to realize that everyone around her is engaged in a constant, brutal battle for power, it becomes clear that a single misstep could be catastrophic. . . . A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe. And each in turn comes into dangerous conflict with a clever and ruthless bishop who will do anything to increase his wealth and power.

913 pages, Hardcover

First published September 15, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Ken Follett

350 books50.7k followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995.

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of Ken’s most popular books.

In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on best-seller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007.

Ken’s new book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published in September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust and Patron of Home-Start Hertfordshire.

Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player. He lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with his wife Barbara, the former Labour Member of Parliament for Stevenage. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren and two Labradors.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
49,295 (54%)
4 stars
29,740 (32%)
3 stars
9,109 (10%)
2 stars
1,726 (1%)
1 star
787 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,328 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,203 reviews34.9k followers
May 3, 2020
It's 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages in England and one man is attempting to make his Abby a center of learning while others are fighting/manipulating/using corruption for Control. Who you marry is hardly ever a choice but an arrangement, there are power plays, wars, corruption and greed. There is also a sense of family, love, hope, survival and friendship.

This book is the prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (which happens to be in my top 10 favorite books of all time). Needless to say, I quickly moved this book up. As Pillars of the Earth, this is a HUGE undertaking as this is a BIG book. Follett is a very descriptive writer and quickly transports readers back to the Dark Ages and gives us a glimpse into people's lives. He writes about the rich, the poor, the ambitious, the cruel ones, the crafty ones, and the harshness of life during that time for all social classes. The book did start out slowly for me as he needed to tell the story. This book is not just one story it is the story of many - it's the story of a boat maker who becomes a builder, a noble woman who marries for love and realizes she may have made a mistake, it's the story of a slave, a religious man, an ale house keeper, a thief, etc. you get the picture. There are many players in this book, but I quickly became familiar with them. All these people come into play and soon do play a part in each other’s lives.

The world is a hard place back then and there are some unpleasant scenes - brutal fighting in war, rape, beatings, slaves, etc. Follett doesn't shy away from showing the harshness of these character's lives but he also does not go into graphic detail either.

Although this is a prequel, I do not think it is necessary to read the other books in the series to be able to enjoy this one. Plus, although a prequel, this does not end where Pillars of the Earth begins. But just as Edgar, the boat builder/building maker does, this book builds a foundation upon which Pillars of the Earth was created.

As with his other books, I found this to be well written and plotted. If you find it slow in the beginning, I encourage people to stay with it. This is not a book that can or should be read fast. It takes its time introducing characters, their agendas, their allegiances and the lives. But once the story is underway, I found this to be smooth sailing. Fans of the other books in the series will not be disappointed.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Publishing Group and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,277 reviews2,213 followers
October 5, 2020
It took a while to be pulled into this story, but once I was - I was in for the over 900 pages ! The novel follows the stories of three main characters and how their lives cross, and there’s a slew of other characters in England from 997 CE to 1007. This was a chaotic time filled with violence and power struggles over land and other riches. The power of men vs men, men vs the church, men vs their king, men vs women, slavery, the have and the have nots, deceit, violence, brutal punishments, lies, love, lust, religion, revenge, strong and weak characters - phew ! It’s all here, but so is the power of decency, family, of love.

Edgar, from a family of shipbuilders, survives with some of his family from a vicious attack by the Vikings who ravage and burn their village, including their home, their lumber and the ship they were building. They become farmers in order to survive, and Edgar eventually becomes a builder. Lady Ragnhild, “with the wonderful red hair”, of a noble Norman family feels fortunate to escape any arranged marriage to someone she doesn’t love, by marrying an Englishman, who she loves and believes loves her. Aldred, the monk collects books and wants to expand learning and build a church . The story is complex at times with twists of fate that change things frequently and the plot centers on these characters and how they manage the events in their lives.

Having read The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, there were things in this novel that gave me a few aha moments even though it’s been quite some time since I read them. I still have yet to read the third book in the trilogy and reading the prequel has made me want to read it for sure. The conversations at times felt oddly too modern, but there’s no doubt that Follett excels at making history so accessible through his captivating characters and story telling. A fabulous escape for me, all leading up to how Dreng’s Ferry became the Kingsbridge that we come know in The Pillars of the Earth. Recommended for fans of the series.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Macmillan through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,082 followers
November 18, 2020
Escapism from the first page............Just what the doctor ordered and perfect October reading. A vivid, absorbing and dark historical fiction tale of good versus evil, love and hate and a time when corruption and injustice was the norm. An unputdownable saga and yet horrifying in places.
It certainly took me out of my comfort zone but I loved escaping back to the dark ages with this one every evening after work. It make me realise that life in 997 certainly wasn’t for the faint hearted or for women either.

Having read and lovedThe Pillars of the Earth I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a prequel and yet I couldn't resist this tome of a novel when I saw it in the book shop.

Set in 997 CE, at the end of the dark ages and England faces attacks from the Welsh and the Vikings. With the Kings grasp on the country fragile and with no clear rule of law, chaos and bloodshed reigns.

This isn't a book for the faint hearted as it depicts many acts of sexual violence, rape, brutality and torture and I have to admit I found it hard going in places. The sexual violence against young girls and women made for uncomfortable reading and I think he could have toned it down a little and still would have got his point across without being so coarse.

However Ken Follett really knows how to tell a story, wonderful sense of time and place and characters that are likeable and despicable but always memorable. I became so invested in the characters and this was such a page turner for me. The plot while not unique is certainly entertaining and I looked forward to picking this book up every evening or listening to it during my walks. I rarely read books over 500 pages but when I do I need to to be a book that I can get lost in and The Evening and the Morning fitted the bill perfectly for me.

I also had this on audible and the narrator John Lee was a joy to listen to.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews292k followers
September 29, 2020
I wasn't sure if I was going to review this book because, honestly, I feel pretty ambivalent towards it. I liked The Evening and the Morning more than A Column of Fire, but still quite a lot less than the previous two books.

I agree with the reviews that say this has a closer feel to the first two books than A Column of Fire. It has that pastoral, everyday life feel that I came to love so much in The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I felt like CofF spun off in an entirely new direction, focusing on the wider political and religious struggles of the world and often forgetting Kingsbridge and its citizens.

Here we find ourselves transported back to England in the year 997 CE. Viking raids are destroying villages and families, just as battles with the Welsh look imminent. Edgar is a young boatbuilder who is forced to rebuild his whole life after Vikings murder his father and destroy his family home. Ragna is a Norman noblewoman who marries Wilwulf, the ealdorman of Shiring, and soon discovers that the customs of England are a far cry from what she is used to. As is Follett's usual fare, bishops and other men scheme behind the scenes for more power.

It was easy to stroll through this book; it never really expected that much of me. The nitty gritty of everyday life juxtaposed with political drama and graphic violence made it somewhat compelling, though I have to say I never really came to love the characters here like I came to love Tom, Philip, Aliena, Jack, Caris and Merthin.

It does seem like Follett has managed to tone down some of his own misogyny for this one. While rape and sexual slavery occur in the narrative, I didn't note as many instances of him describing female characters by the shape of their bodies.

Still, I think maybe male authors should stop writing virginity-losing scenes from a woman's perspective. Good god, when will I no longer read that ridiculous scene where a female virgin feels a resistance, a sharp pain, then BAM! he's in and it's orgasms galore from then on. Literally...
She felt a sudden sharp pain, but it lasted only seconds, then all was pleasure.

She had lost her virginity to the man she loved, and it felt wonderful. Furtively, she pushed a finger inside herself and brought it out sticky with this fluid. She smelled its fishy smell, then tasted it and found it salty.

That's gross. Some things you do really don't need to be shared.

So I have mixed feelings. Would I have started this 900+ page monster if I'd known it was going to be a so-so read? Probably not. Yet there is a sort of comfort, I find, in Follett's novels. The pastoral activities, the marketplace and craftsmen, all add up to something almost... quaint. It didn't make my heart pound, but I sort of enjoyed it anyway.
Profile Image for James.
Author 18 books3,536 followers
October 11, 2020
I am officially in a book coma now... after reading all 3 previous books in the Kingsbridge series, was there any chance I'd miss the newest one, the prequel, entitled The Evening and the Morning? Nope... it was gonna happen as soon as possible. NetGalley declined me. I waited until the library had it available because I promised myself no new books until I read some on my TBR. I thought it would take 2 months to get to me on the list, then four days ago, NYPL told me I was next on the list. So... of course, I read it as soon as I arrived in Maine. Two days later, another 900 pages later, I want another one in the series ASAP!

I don't know how to explain it... Follett is just brilliant when it comes to characters, plot, and conflict. He totally captures my heart and emotions, and I get so angry at these villains. Murder. Violence. Theft. Betrayal. Sure, it's slightly exaggerated... of course, it crosses a few lines to make certain groups look awful, but ultimately, this is fiction, and this is about finding an engaging read, so that's why I love this author's work. It's now the fifth book I've read, of about 20, and I will keep reading through them all. I admit, he's my favorite. See... I can barely write this review.

Okay, so what do you need to know? Approximately the year 1000. Norman and English settlements. The Vikings are coming. The King needs help. The priory is full of corruption. But there is love. Hope. Knowledge. Humor. There is a bit of everything, and I find myself constantly switching my mind on what could happen because the author just shocks us with how evil some characters can be. In the other books in this series, the timeline is usually several decades. This one is barely a single decade, and for the most part, it all takes place in a three-year period. Alliances. Vengeance. And in the end, something comes together to make us feel a little better.

Ragna. Edgar. Two beautiful characters. Get to know them. Now.
Profile Image for Carolyn Walsh .
1,446 reviews575 followers
September 28, 2020
4.5 stars raised to 5 for its entertainment and enjoyment value.

At first glance, the book seems formidable with 928 pages. Once I started it moved swiftly with scarcely a dull moment. It begins in the year 997 when the Dark Ages are drawing to a close and the start of what we refer to as Medieval times. The growth and transformation of a crude, small village to the thriving town of Knightsbridge, England, the setting of Pillars of Earth, is described through the hard work, tribulations, joys, and sorrows of three main characters. It is a time of warfare with brutal battles with the Welsh and constant raids by the Vikings. In the towns and villages, a loathsome bishop and his brothers are engaged in corruption and manipulating for total power and greater wealth.

A young, talented boatbuilder, Edgar, feels hopeless when his family business is destroyed, and his father and the woman he loves are killed by Vikings. Edgar, his mother, and two brothers are moved to some poor, very unproductive farmland. His mother soon dies. He improves the farmland, leaving his two brothers in charge. The brothers both share the same young wife. Edgar moves to town hoping to use the building and engineering skill that comes naturally to him. He is determined to use his talents to find work as a builder.

A Norman noblewoman, Ragna, leaves her family, travelling across the sea to marry an English earl whom she loves. She believes she can rule his domain alongside him. She discovers she made a huge mistake. He sees nothing wrong for a man in his position to engage in frequent infidelities. Ragna is appaled at the harsher living conditions in her new home town, the corrupt justice system, and the treatment of slaves. She learns that she is endangered by her husband's two brothers who are intent on taking or controlling any power and wealth that she might assume through the rights of her marriage.

A lowly monk, Aldred, has hopes to make the impoverished, humble abbey the centre of scholarship and education throughout Europe. He has collected a few books and manuscripts.

These three main character's lives connect with each other and also with clearly defined people in the locality. We meet soldiers, servants, slaves, thieves, ordinary workers and tradesmen, guards, a nasty alehouse keeper, and vicious villains. These characters all stand out and come to life on the pages.

There are bloody scenes of warfare, torture, murder, lust and rape. There are also love affairs, devotion to family, marriage celebrations, religious ceremonies, and court deliberations.

The writing is clear, fast-paced, and immersive. I now want to reread Pillars of Earth.
Profile Image for Debbie W..
709 reviews457 followers
February 18, 2023
Why I chose to read this book:
1. even though I really enjoyed The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I wasn't too crazy about Ken Follett's A Column of Fire. I thought I would give Follett one more chance with this prequel; and,
2. my audiobook hold became available.

1. unlike ACoF, I appreciated that this story returned to Kingsbridge (known as Dreng's Ferry during the Dark Ages); and,
2. narrator John Lee does a very fine job.

1. in typical Follett fashion, our protagonists continually get stomped on, over and over and over again, with very little respite, until the last 30 minutes when everything falls into place and works out with righteous justice;
2. Bishop Wynstan is the caricature of the evil genius! Several times, I was waiting for him to chortle "Mwa-a-a-a-a!" while gleefully rubbing his hands together;
3. many names sounded very similar, even though characters were not necessarily related. At times, it was difficult to sort them out, especially via audiobook;
4. sex scenes were cringeworthy and crass. Often, I would say, "Ewww!";
5. like the other books in this series, it didn't have to be so lengthy! Some serious pruning would have been nice; and,
6. thanks to Follett's attention to detail, I am now extremely confident on how to build a ferry barge and make counterfeit coins!

Overall Thoughts:
We've got the typical Kingsbridge characters: Edgar the Builder, the lower-class but hardworking and lovelorn laborer (who, of course, wins the girl in the end); Ragna, the intelligent damsel-in-distress noblewoman (who gets raped at least once); and Abbot Aldred, the piously downtrodden cleric. Of course, we must have the "bad guys", topping the list with the (perennially) evil bishop, Wynstan!

Whether this is your first foray into the Kingsbridge series or you're a diehard fan, then you won't be disappointed. Myself, I've seen enough to not go and venture into Kingsbridge (or Follett's formulaic writing) ever again!
Profile Image for Tammy.
506 reviews423 followers
June 30, 2020
Such a disappointment. It’s Follett’s usual intermingling of characters’ stories but it fails to engage. The characters lacked depth and the plots lacked momentum. Overall, this is just lacking.
Profile Image for Beata.
714 reviews1,088 followers
October 30, 2020
Quite interesting prequel, long but worth the time it takes. I guess it was my first HF on the times before Hastings, so I award the fourth star for the historical backgound.
The story of Kingsbridge begin seventy years before the Norman invasion, and the relations with the Normans, differences in law, cultural clash, Viking raids etc are neatly integrated into the story.
Time well spent, especially in company with Mr Lee's voice.
Profile Image for Libby.
575 reviews157 followers
December 13, 2020
This is an excellent epic novel that begins in 997 CE, set in the fictional township of Dreng’s Ferry before it becomes Kingsbridge. Although some scholars, believing the height of human civilization was the Greek and Roman Empires, call this the Dark Ages, there are others who believe it wasn’t so dark. Ken Follet’s fictionalized account of life during this time period, reflects a busy and industrious period in the lives of English folk. It was often brutal with hardships that couldn’t be predicted, like the arrival of Viking ships on murderous rampages. The novel begins with just such an account. Eighteen year old Edgar’s entire future rode on the outcome of this raid. Record keeping, literature, and lives could be stamped out by a Viking raid or by fires or any of a number of other tragedies.

Edgar’s father, himself, and two brothers had some renown as boatbuilders. That all changed after the Viking raid; they were forced to become farmers as opposed to the more loathsome option of slavery. I enjoyed watching Edgar’s progression. His intellect even though he was uneducated was obvious. He eventually became a builder, a work that grew out of the boatbuilding knowledge his father had provided. It’s tantalizing to be immersed in the world of what seems to be a common man and watch as the world (life) pommels his ambitions.

Ragna is a French noblewoman who marries an Anglo-Saxon nobleman, Wilwulf. He’s twenty years her senior, but they both love each other. What is she getting herself into? Ragna does not have a clue. Wilwulf has ambitious and conniving half-brothers. Wynstan is a debased bishop and Wiglem is a Thane with little intellect and no conscience. Wilwulf also has a secret, one that will change the way Ragna views her marriage. Ragna has been raised with leadership skills, her noble father letting her sit as justice in the village courts over which he reigned. She’s not content to sit at home and be the biddable wife. From the start, she stands strong and makes inroads into the family dynamics that are less than pleasing to the brothers and their mother, Wilwulf’s step-mother, Gytha.

The last primary character is Aldred, a monk who dreams of establishing a great library. Aldred provides the steadfast character of the Church, a bulwark against corruption both in the Church and in the political life of the community at large. The Church is heavily political, owning land, collecting rents and demanding its own version of fealty. When Aldred sees the lazy priests at Dreng’s Ferry, he is chagrined and determines to rectify the situation. Institutional ineptitude is more difficult to change than he could ever imagine. In the same way, Ragna will run up against the limits of justice in an era which often took the course of least resistance and sought to please the elite. Have times really changed? Yes, reading this book assures me they have, even though money still has the same greedy power it always has.

Follet is a master at creating fully dimensional characters in a political landscape. The plot lulls at times but it was mostly a pleasure to pick this book up. The length was somewhat prohibitive for me as I am a slow reader, but I chose a time when I could give it the hours it required, and I’m not sorry I did. The historical setting and plot is credible. The only stretch of credulity for me comes with Ragna’s response to a traumatic incident. Taking a bath and putting on clean clothes will not wash away all sins. I especially like Follet’s themes of industry, intellect, and the power of human perseverance.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
August 31, 2022
Kingsbridge às Arrecuas

Está-se em 997, numa época de caos, violência e espadeirada, que a História conhece como Idade das Trevas — um nome que, diga-se de passagem, lhe assenta que nem uma luva!
Mas como o Amor é a luz das Trevas, o romance também anda por lá aos tropeções, brilhando com algum custo, lá no meio de tanta treva!...

E pronto... aqui fica um lamiré deste Kingsbridge às arrecuas, pois é duma prequela que se trata. Porém, antes de me retirar, permitam que vos legue este suculento appetizer — uma sublime apresentação de personagens, na voz do próprio Ken Follett:


P.S.: Aguardo ansiosamente o livro -1 — a prequela da prequela, pois então?! 😜 🌟🌟🌟🌟👍
Profile Image for Marialyce (absltmom, yaya).
1,941 reviews722 followers
July 6, 2020
I have so enjoyed Mr Follett's Pillars of the Earth series so to be able to read the prequel to that trilogy was something I so wanted to do.

The story blends many characters both sinister and well intentioned into the village that would one day be Knightsbridge. The story takes us through the interweaving of a cast of characters that would eventually shape the town and the cathedral that many of us came to know in Mr Follett's previous books.

This is a long saga, one that relates and intermingles the tales of a large number of people while focusing in on three main character. As is often the case, the author creates strong women and paints for us a vivid picture of life in the Middle Ages with all its intrigue, jockeying for control, and the lowly part that women were held to during this time.

Recommended to those who enjoy a saga that presents a well done story of times that preceded us.

Thank you to edelweiss for an advanced copy of this book due to be published on September 15, 2020.
Profile Image for Kristi.
120 reviews
September 17, 2020
I loved Pillars of the Earth. Thought books 2 and 3 were meh. I was very hopeful that this book would be in line with the depth and breadth of an epic tale as I felt when I read Pillars. Alas, it is not.
The writing is wooden and even stilted at times. Follett's characters are a regurgitation of previous books' characters, just with different names. I could predict exactly what was going to happen for the entire 900+ pages.
Again, as with his other books, Follett's treatment of women is inferior. I think he actually imagines that he understands women and can write from a woman's perspective, but that is unfortunately laughable in this book.
The ending was a neatly sewn-up chapter of rainbows and unicorns where the good guys win and the bad guys all get what is coming to them...Argh.
The story itself is interesting and thus I must reluctantly give it 3 stars.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
August 30, 2022
Kingsbridge Backwards

What can you expect of a book about the Dark Ages?
Darkness, what else?!
Well... in fact there is something else, cos in spite of all the darkness, we humans have also been genetically programmed for Love, and Mr. Follett didn’t forget about it — romance is also there, struggling to shine in a web of wickedness and obscurity... 😉

I just gave you a short glimpse of a huge book. However, since it’s a prequel, I’ll complement this brief review with another prequel. For that, I’ll ask the author himself to provide me a helping hand:


Now that I red this prequel, I’ll be eagerly waiting for the prequel of this prequel, the prequel of the prequel of this prequel, the prequel of the prequel of the prequel of this prequel, etc, etc,...
Till the Big Bang, I guess Mr. Follett will find plenty of writing material for future Kingsbridge prequels. Let them come… 😉😜
Profile Image for Cass.
Author 8 books162 followers
April 2, 2020
Another masterful work of historical fiction by Ken Follett, and an improvement, I think, on 'Column of Fire'.

'The Evening and the Morning' is thoroughly enjoyable even if you are not familiar with the rest of the Kingsbridge series. The time and place are both excellently-rendered. Follett has a remarkable talent for showcasing the priorities of people in history -- what was most important to them in their cultural context. In a broad scope, those things don't change much over time: we yearn for power, wealth, love, vengeance, harmony. But the particulars can be so very different, and in 'The Evening and the Morning', Follett excavates a period of history even lesser-known than the Anarchy which formed the backdrop of 'Pillars of the Earth': that of pre-Norman England. He strikes on many historical realities at odds with our general view of medieval Europe, influenced largely by later centuries. England circa 1000 was a fractious place, where Christianity's hold was nominal at best in some places, where priests could still have wives, where polygamy and slavery were not unusual, where women could hold property in their own names. The characters and their stories are compelling, and the lens of history fascinating, so the book easily stands on its own.

If you *have* read 'Pillars of the Earth', however, 'The Evening and the Morning' stands as an excellent prequel. It does not, precisely, end where 'Pillars of the Earth' begins, as the blurb implies, but it sets the foundations. I took great delight in seeing things come together over the course of the book. When this novel begins, Kingsbridge does not exist; we have no bridge, no priory, no market, no guildhouses, no thriving point of commerce. There is a decrepit alehouse, a ferry, and a small, corrupt monastery on a riverbank. But as the story progresses, you see the shape of what we will know as Kingsbridge, as well as other landmarks in neighboring towns. The characters will feel familiar as well: a well-intentioned man of the cloth, a precocious peasant with the mind of an engineer, a wellborn lady brought below her station by circumstance, a vicious clergyman obsessed with personal ambition, a brutish thug of an overlord. Follett does play with similar tropes many times over, but these characters are still themselves, not carbon copies, and they respond to their world in different ways than do Jack, Aliena, Waleran, Philip, Merthin, Caris, and the rest.

A few off-notes: It strikes me as odd that, in setting this book when he did, Follett didn't even give a cursory mention to one of the most famous events of the period, the 1002 massacre of the Danes ordered by King Aethelred. Probably this is a detail that will concern very few readers, but it was an odd missed opportunity to me. The perspective of a Danish character somewhere in the mix would've been interesting, in such a tumultuous time. As it stands, the Vikings and their ilk are a nebulous threat, ever at the perimeter of our characters' concerns, but not directly in the flow of the narrative after the first chapter.

I also missed the connection to the wider world -- and perhaps that would have been trickier here, since the world is so much smaller for people in southern England of 1000 than it is even 140 years later. But while 'Pillars' has the White Ship mystery and 'World' has the subterfuge of Edward II, 'Evening' has no such deep-seated historical scandal at its heart. Aethelred and Emma of Normandy show up in the final quarter more as deus ex machina than anything else.

There is, of course -- and I hate to say 'of course', but, well, here we are -- a rape scene. It isn't as graphic as it might be, but it's also just... wearying. I can recognize that, yes, both the rape and its context would not be unusual for the period and still be tired of the trope appearing in fiction. I wish Follett had found some other means of inflicting stress upon his heroine. Another scene, while positively framed, reminded me that I could also do without ever reading a male author trying to write a woman's perspective of her own genitalia ever again.

Those issues aside, however, I quite enjoyed this read. As in 'Pillars' and 'World', I read feeling assured that the virtuous and the wicked would both receive their due recompense in the end, but nonetheless tugged along by the need to follow the stream of injustices and triumphs. 'Pillars' remains the high water mark of this series -- none of the others has been quite so dense with historical veracity, and perhaps that's actually a mark in favor of the other books for some readers who aren't as fond of said density as I am. 'Evening' is shorter and easier to get your hands around, for certain. But it's a good tale, a fascinating window into a little-revealed period of history, and a worthy read.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,007 reviews354 followers
January 22, 2021
A Prelude for a Prequel

Edgar is at the beach waiting for Sunni. They’ve been planning a escape for sometime, and... if everything goes according to plan ... tonight will be the night!

But... unfortunately... nothing went the way he planned...

Whilst searching for the graceful figure of Sunni, Edgar eyed one... two... three... manny... Viking caravels sailing silently towards the British coast. Their fierce occupants were all holding giant fire sticks and, for a moment, Edgar could do nothing but trembling with the terrifying vision!

However, once the shock lost a bit of its spontaneous strength, he felt an extreme urge to tell Sunni... mom... dad... everyone... about the imminent danger that was now landing on the beach!... But how? How could he do such a thing?! How could he warn everyone about it?!...
The bell! Yes, yes! He had to reach the bell! Urgently! Hurriedly!... Run, Edgar, run...

And now, my dear friends and book mates, this is where I‘ll pop out and you”ll pop in! I just gave you the kick-start of this magnificent novel! The rest is up to you! Hopefully!...

The Evening and the Morning is huge in every possible senses!
It’s a huge 4 from me! ❤️🌟🌟🌟🌟❤️
Profile Image for Rebecca Crunden.
Author 16 books471 followers
Want to read
March 4, 2023

Ken, you legend.

My review of The Pillars of the Earth is here.
My review of World Without End is here.
My review of A Column of Fire is here.
My tbr review of The Armour of Light is here.

Blog | Twitter
Profile Image for NZLisaM.
414 reviews367 followers
October 7, 2020
For you reading pleasure, I present the long-awaited prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989), The Evening and the Morning (2020). TPOTE is long thought of as a classic historical masterpiece, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with, but don't concern yourself, because this latest installment of the Kingsbridge series is just as immersive, dramatic, captivating and spellbinding, and I guarantee you will be as glued to all 832 pages as I was.

Set at the end of the dark ages, on the cusp of the first millennium, the action and danger was immediate – less than three pages in see Viking ships raid and pillage a small English fishing village. The four main characters, and POV's, are; a Peasant boat builder, an English Monk, the Bishop of Shiring, and the daughter of a French Count. It's set mainly in England, with the threats of Vikings in the East and the Welsh in the West, but there are sections in Normandy, France. Much of the plot revolves around the personal lives of the main players – their loves, losses, dreams, scandals, betrayals, marriage and children.

In The Evening and the Morning, we encounter a small hamlet with approximately five buildings (I'm not going to spoil things and reveal its original name), and witness it grow and prosper into the busy town which is known as Kingsbridge in The Pillars of the Earth, and beyond. I'm embarrassed to admit it took me longer than it should have to recognise pre-Kingsbridge. It wasn't until the ferry was built that a light bulb went off.

Those familiar with the Kingsbridge trilogy will recall that each tome has its share of wicked, corrupt, shady characters, who usually hold positions of power or dominance, which they abuse to spread hatred and discord, and carry out their revenge. Fans will also know that Follet is a firm believer in good triumphing over evil, and that even though the heroes and heroines face brutality, tragedy, challenges, adversary, and heartache, by the end the villains have received their much-deserved comeuppance and punishment. Content wise, I found this one tamer than the other books in the series, but prepare yourself for period typical violence and barbarity – torture, rape, abuse, war, poverty, disfigurement, disease etc.

The Pillars of the Earth was followed by two sequels, World Without End (my favourite because it incorporated the bubonic plague of the fourteen century) and A Column of Fire (which I own, but haven't yet read, set in the sixteenth century). All, including this one, can be read and enjoyed as standalones, since they are set in different centuries, with characters that are either descendants or ancestors. Ken Follet is a true talent, and The Evening and the Morning was an addictive, engrossing, epic experience, that I have no hesitation in recommending.

I'd like to thank Netgalley, Macmillan, and Ken Follet for the e-ARC.

Available Now!
Profile Image for Matt.
3,675 reviews12.8k followers
January 15, 2022
There’s always something exciting when reading a book by Ken Follett, as the reader is subsumed with history, drama, and wonderful storytelling. Follett has done well with his Kingsbridge trilogy, so much so that he chose to add this, a prequel, to deliver context on some much-wondered happenings in the early stages. Set at the end of the Dark Ages, the story explores the lives of three key characters and how their interactions bring a community together over a period of time. While the world is slowly developing, there is much going on and societies are emerging with their own unique perspectives. Follett weaves a tale that is not only impactful, but offers series fans a remarkable treat and will have them rushing to re-read this epic series.

The Dark Ages are coming to an end in England, but that does not mean all is tranquil. With the Welsh and Vikings eyeing this jewel, no one is entirely safe, as the country is in flux. Chaos has taken over and many are left to fend for themselves. It’s 997 CE and a small English community awaits what will happen to them next.

Three distinct characters emerge, each with their own stories and hopes for the years to come. Edgar is a young boatbuilder, who lost the love of his life during a Viking raid. Ragna is a noblewoman who arrives from Normandy and seeks to make a new life for herself. Aldred is a young monk and hopes to make an ecclesiastical mark while setting up a monastery to help enrich the community. Each has a tale all their own, but their lives inch closer to being intertwined.

As the story progresses, the community of Dreng’s Ferry comes to life. Edgar tries to make a life for himself on unproductive farming land with two brothers, whose greatest worry is how they will survive being married to the same woman. Undeterred by the obstacles before him, Edgar makes a niche for himself and becomes a staple part of the community, earning the respect of those around him.

Ragna is from noble blood and finds herself in the community after she is married to one of the rich men. While she assumes that she will be able to rule alongside her husband, nothing could be further from the truth. Her husband’s brothers have other plans after his death, leaving Ragna with little as she seeks to stay afloat. With a burgeoning brood, Ragna suffers greatly at the hands of others. Her nobility means little to some, taking it so far as to make her a plaything and leave her to suffer, but Ragna refuses to be defeated. Rather, she does all she can to show her children that love and determination mean more than anything else.

Aldred is a lowly monk with high hopes for Dreng’s Ferry, seeking to make it a scholastic and religious centre in Europe where many can grow their knowledge and become better people. However, some of the local clergy have other ideas and try to destroy Aldred’s ideas and the monastery he hopes to build. Corruption abounds, leaving Aldred to turn to others for help, all while fending off those who would see him fail.

These three show how determination and a passion for others can shape the community in ways never thought possible. Dreng’s Ferry grows and soon becomes Kingsbridge, home of a bustling community and centre of Follett’s novel The Pillars of the Earth>/i>. I can only hope that patient and determined readers will try this book, as well as the official trilogy, losing themselves in the greatness that is this splendid series.

While I seem to have stuck to some of Follett’s heartier work (read: trilogies), I have never been disappointed. He is a master at telling a complex story with relatable characters and wonderful narrative flair. There is something to be said for this, while also penning massive tomes to get as much information shared as possible. Follett captivates as he reshapes the narrative throughout, spinning three stories and trying to bring them together under one proverbial roof. It was a journey like no other, but one I am pleased to have undertaken. With a new novel already out, I will have to see what new adventures Follett has in store for those who love his writing.

One thing that Follett has always done is use strong characters to guide the story, Here, he chose three presumptive protagonists and presents a thorough, delightful piece told through their eyes. While there is a great deal of backstory, the essence of the story brings out some masterful character development, first as independent characters, but slowly inching each together until the final chapter, as fans of Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth can see a recognisable location. Follett’s attention to detail with those he places in the story cannot be downplayed, as it helps create a picture in the mind of those who guide the narrative along.

While many find Ken Follett novels difficult to digest, it is usually because of an excessive amount of detail, rather than a lack thereof. Follett’s writing is so on point that I could not get enough of the details and the development that occurred with each passing chapter. A grounded narrative that slowly develops is accentuated with fundamentally ideal characters, all of whim have a richness that is essential to understanding the larger issues discussed. Plot twists and historical goings-on fuel a stellar story that seeks to lay the foundational groundwork for what is to come, a sensational trilogy about a cathedral and the town that develops around it. While there were portions that delved into areas that I did not find as alluring, there is surely something for everyone with this piece, leaving me enthralled with everything I read. I can see a new series that Follett’s recently released, which has me excited, as I am never sure what to expect.

Kudos, Mr. Follett, for leaving me curious yet again. Keep it up and your fan base will surely grow.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
Profile Image for Geoffrey.
521 reviews47 followers
April 30, 2020
(Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

This was actually the first Follet novel that I have ever tackled. Shortly after I started, one of the first things that caught my attention was the extent to which everything was described, even in conversations between characters. At first, it gave the book a bit of an over-explanatory kind of tone, and I quickly found myself wondering just how long it was going to take to eventually work my way through the several hundred pages.

At some point, however, a switch happened. I don't know when it occurred, but suddenly the book that I was stubbornly trying to work my way through became the book that I was reluctant to put down. I found that I had become quite fond of the three main characters as they navigated separate and shared challenges, the grand majority posed by a power-hungry archbishop and his various loathsome allies. Just when one machination was over, a new one was hatched, making for an abundance of intrigue and struggle that became harder and harder for me to tear myself away from. And as I stayed up increasingly later in the evenings to devour chapter after chapter, Follet’s style of descriptiveness had ceased to be a bother, and instead just made the characters’ world come incredibly alive through rich detail. Clearly, the author has done his research about life in this period. And while there is definitely a limit to how far Follet could go on existing scholarship before taking up some creative liberties, nevertheless at times it definitely felt like I had taken a time machine to early medieval England.

By the time it was over, it turned out to be a most enjoyable escapist journey via historical fiction. If this is Ken Follet at his usual level of work, then fans of his will definitely be justified in their anticipation of his latest book. And for first-timers like myself, I can say from experience that they have nothing holding them back from diving right in. Hopefully you newcomers found yourself as captivated as I was - because when you eventually finish, you’ll still have the rest of Kingsbridge series ahead of you (which, as one may expect, I am now quite excited to move on to).
Profile Image for Blaine DeSantis.
892 reviews107 followers
November 14, 2020
Another fine effort by Ken Follett. This time we are looking at the Prequel to his Kingsbridge Cathedral Series, and while it ends about 125 years before Pillars of the Earth begins, he tells a story of how Kingsbridge developed.

As with all of Follett’s works he is meticulous in his history research, and I particularly enjoyed learning how important Eels were to the British diet! He has his usual assortment of villains and in this book there are a lot of people to dislike!!

We follow the lives of 3 main characters, a Norman/English noblewoman, a shipbuilder/craftsman and an abbot. There stories are intertwined with the development of the town, the governance of the regions and how these three main characters act and interact to the evils and disappointments that come into their lives.

It is not always a happy picture he paints of the era from 997-1007 AD, but at the same time it was not the best of times in England. The Vikings were raiding almost annually, the area is governed by a truly evil family who even controls the church and uses that institution to advance their own power and wealth, even though they constantly make decisions that go against the welfare of the citizens of the area.

I read this book on my Kindle and found it an easier read than his other novels in the series, I think this is because I could control the font size and brightness of the screen, and the Kindle is so much easier to carry about than then the actual book. Tremendous effort, once again by Follett and I am already looking forward to his next book!

Profile Image for NILTON TEIXEIRA.
791 reviews242 followers
October 11, 2020
4.5 stars!
What a great entertainment this book was for me.
There was not a moment that I could consider boring.
I just couldn’t put it down and I did not want it to end.
Don’t be intimidated by its size (913 pages) because the flow is so good that you will not even notice the time passing.
The writing is so simple and clear.
The development of the story line, although a bit predictable, is very engaging and makes this book a page turner.
The characters are rich, interesting and memorable.
All ingredients for a great novel were skillfully added.
The ending was a bit cheesy but I can say that I was not disappointed with this book.
No wonder Ken Follett is one of my top ten favourite authors.
Profile Image for Bethany.
12 reviews
November 27, 2020
Serious question: Has Ken Follet ever met and talked to a real life woman? After reading this book I’m honestly not sure.
Profile Image for Lost In My Own World Of Books.
563 reviews164 followers
April 9, 2021
Este livro foi diferente dos restantes que li do autor. Tem uma história de amor maravilhosa e tocante. Un amor que ultrapassou diversas batalhas e obstáculos. Um amor em que ambos tiveram que ultrapassar os seus próprios medos e receios. Um amor que teve que enfrentar desafios devido ao passado e ao presente de ambos mas que persistiu.
A escrita do autor e a forma como ele consegue desenvolver um amor no meio de guerra é incrível. Para além desta parte amorosa, a parte histórica está muito bem construída, foi possível navegar na história e ver como eram as coisas naquele tempo.
Profile Image for M.  Malmierca.
323 reviews267 followers
November 6, 2020
Ken Follett (1949-) en su máxima expresión. Quien haya disfrutado con Los pilares de la tierra (1989) encontrará en Las tinieblas y el alba (2020) su digna precuela. El autor repite la fórmula de aquella sin perder ni un ápice de su capacidad de entretener.

Novela histórica en estado puro. Su principal mérito es la descripción, la recreación, real o ficticia, de la época en la cual se desarrolla: el final de la Alta Edad Media. No podría ser más detallada. Durante casi 1000 páginas acompañamos a los personajes (esclavos, delincuentes, campesinos, artesanos, soldados, nobles y clero), contemplamos su rutina diaria, los lugares por los que transitan y las complejas y difíciles relaciones que se establecen entre ellos.

Ante este derroche de ambientación, el argumento, la historia puede quedar en algún momento algo diluida. Sin embargo, si realmente prestamos atención, nos damos cuenta que los amores, ambiciones, rivalidades, conspiraciones, etc. que el autor utiliza para crear la intriga siguen presentes.

En ese mundo rígido e injusto, con grandes dificultades de progreso individual, Ken Follett apuesta siempre por la inteligencia, el ingenio y la bondad como únicas herramientas válidas para abrirse camino hacia la felicidad y el éxito. Cada escena es un reto, una negociación donde en un primer momento vencen la fuerza bruta, el poder o el abuso, pero que, finalmente, estos resultan derrotados por la astucia y la honradez. Porque al final siempre triunfa la justicia: horrible es el castigo para los malvados y espléndida la recompensa para los honestos.

Las tinieblas y el alba es una nítida e interesante historia para disfrutar. Literatura de evasión de calidad, con un soberbio trabajo documental y unos personajes sencillos que responden a estereotipos claros y reconocibles, pero en cualquier caso entrañables.

No va a defraudar en absoluto a los seguidores del autor.
Profile Image for Judy.
1,060 reviews
November 7, 2020
There were a couple of reasons I chose to read this book. First, I've read several of Ken Follett's earlier novels and really liked them. Second, because I keep hearing about Pillars of the Earth and The Century trilogies and keep meaning to read them, but haven't yet. When I read that this book was a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth trilogy I thought I would pick it up as a start to the other three. I didn't expect to be blown away, especially after reading the first few pages and realizing it was set in 997 CE during the Dark Ages and that it is 928 pages. I thought, uh oh - the is going to be difficult to slog through; but, no! I truly loved every minute spent with this story and can't wait to delve into the trilogy.

The setting is England during a time when Vikings raided villages, and times were difficult. The main characters were Edgar, who was a boatbuilder and was MacGyver-like in being able to put together a plan quickly and make something work from nothing; and Ragna, a Norman noblewoman, who comes to England when she marries an English earl, and is very smart and courageous. I loved these two characters and happily became wrapped up in their lives as they navigated treacherous times and great difficulties.

The plot is full of action and tension that was perfectly paced. The characters, many who are filled with greed and ambition, were so well-developed I felt I knew them. This was most definitely a five-star book for me. I loved it!

Thanks to Ken Follett and Penguin Publishing Group through Edelweiss for an advance copy.
Profile Image for Lori Elliott (catching up).
725 reviews1,763 followers
October 12, 2020
I enjoyed this, but can not speak to how well it compares to the rest of this series.

When Ken Follett’s Pillars Of The Earth was published I had just read Sharon Kay Penman’s When Christ and His Saints Slept (Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine #1), which is one of my favorite books of all-time, and I just couldn’t motivate myself to read another 900+ page book that takes place during the same time period.

It has, however, stayed on my TBR list. So, I was very pleasantly surprised to see Follet had written a prequel & decided it was the perfect time to dive into this series.

I love this time period and I have always been fascinated by all of the political maneuvering. Guess that is one constant in all of human history and, unfortunately, will probably never change.

Follet is great a descriptive writer, however, I did find the attention to details a lil overdone. The last 1/4 I admit to skimming sections.

This was definitely a good verses evil narrative. Evil seemed to prevail to a disturbing degree and the back/forth plotting was a bit exhausting by the conclusion.

Overall, I thought this was good. I really enjoyed the first half of the story, but the things that I found tiresome really ended up spoiling the second half. Really think it could have been condensed to about 500 pgs and been a 5 star read.

Again, I’ve not read the rest of the series which may have lessen my enjoyed of it. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Cititor Necunoscut.
454 reviews81 followers
October 9, 2020
Anul 997, Anglia. Vikingii atacă cu brutalitate, ard sate și ucid. Anglia se pregătește să se despartă de Evul întunecat, dar drumul e lung și anevoios, mai ales pentru oamenii de rând. Iar destinele unui tânăr constructor de bărci, unei nobile normande, unui episcop corupt și a unui călugăr cu aspirații mărețe se întrepătrund așa cum numai Ken Follet își poate imagina.

Ken Follet a urcat vertiginos în topul autorilor mei preferați după ce am citit Căderea uriașilor. Așa cum îmi stă în fie, atunci când un autor îmi place, caut să îi citesc cât mai multe cărți. Imediat după Căderea uriașilor, pentru că îmi lipseau următoarele volume, am început seria Kingsbridge, care la vremea aceea avea trei volume: Vol. I – Stâlpii Pământului Vol. II – O lume fără sfârșit Vol III – Coloana de foc. Seria Kingsbridge începe în secolul al XII-lea și se termină, trei volume mai târziu, în secolul al XVII-lea, lăsând cititorul tulburat, revoltat, încântat și cam toate stările pe care o serie atât de lungă ți le poate trezi. Ken Follet crează un univers dens, plin de personaje interesante, complexe, într-o ficțiune istorică extrem de bine documentată, cu multe fire narative care ajung să se întâlnească într-un final.

Una din capcanele seriilor este că la un moment dat să te cam saturi de ele când autorul nu vine cu ceva cu adevărat nou. Având în vedere că autorul a scris la fiecare roman între 700 și aproape 1000 de pagini, îți poți imagina cu ușurință că vei ajunge să îți dorești și altceva. Chiar dacă fiecare serie aduce un set nou de personaje, acțiunea sărind câte două secole de la un volum la altul, avem în esență oameni ai bisericii extrem de corupți, avem unii călugări care se luptă cu morile de vânt și corupția superiorilor, avem un constructor, avem victime și agresori. Pentru mine apropierea de prezent a scăzut atracția față de cărți. De aceea, bucuria a fost și mai mare atunci când am aflat că al patrulea volum al seriei reprezintă un prolog al seriei, autorul alegând să se întoarcă în trecut, la formarea Kingsbridge.

Continuarea recenziei: http://www.cititornecunoscut.ro/si-a-...
December 5, 2020
Follett phoned it in. Such a fascinating time and could be amazing. But no. No character development. No plot development. Elementary conversation. Low level crap aimed at selling to people who bought into Pillars of the Earth. Do not waste your time.
Profile Image for Jannelies.
964 reviews58 followers
September 9, 2020
I do not read a lot of historical fiction, but when I do, and it is a very good one like The Evening and the Morning, I always ask myself why I do not read more in this genre.
Probably because Ken Follett is such a master and I think it would be hard to find a series, or even a book, that matches Follett's books in every aspect.
Strangely enough, I wanted to re-read one of Follett's other titles, The Third Twin, and I was very disappointed. It was not at all what I remembered, mainly because it felt horribly out of date, even though it was published in 1997.

I was so happy to delve into The Evening and the Morning! You could say it hasn't got serious depth, and that the plot becomes quite obvious, and you can see the ending coming miles away, but it is the kind of book that you just cannot put down. Unfortunately my life is quite hectic with work and other things, so it took me way too long to finish it. And now I'm sad because it is finished and I feel I had to say goodbye to old friends.

A book like this invites to visit Wikipedia often - well, at least I do, because I want to know more about the historical setting. And although king Aethelred (Aethelred the unready) playes a certain role in this story, not all that happens in the book happened exactly so. This is of course a writer's prerogative and it has no great influence on the story. Sometimes events made me think of the excellent series The Last Kingdom, although that series is all about events a hundred years earlier.

I really liked main character Ragna, because she is a strong woman, who fights but also knows when she's beaten and how to deal with that. Follett is a master in describing people, from their clothes to their habits to their characters, be it a good person or a bad person.

I've enjoyed myself tremendously with this book and I'm thankful to Netgalley for this review copy.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,328 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.