The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett
Follett’s latest epic novel is the prequel to the highly successful trilogy that began with the best-selling Pillars of the Earth, set in the Middle Ages. The story tells of the founding of Kingsbridge in pre-Norman Britain, and the laying of the foundations for the cathedral that features in the later novels. The principal characters are Ragna, a beautiful Norman noblewoman, Edgar, a boatbuilder turned mason, and Aldred, a monk. Their main opponents consist of three brothers, Wilf – an ealdorman (local ruler), Wynstan – a bishop with aspirations, and Wigelm. The power struggles form the backbone of the story, set against the fairly miserable local life in a poor south-west English region, prone to Viking and Welsh raiders.
There is a slow build-up of the characters as the story line is developed. Injustices pile up, with grudging partial settlement of scores, until the final stages, which are settled by the king and the archbishop of Canterbury, as well as a few bloody deaths, in keeping with the times.
This book will be a must for those who read (and liked) Pillars of the Earth.