"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 artifacts--coins, fragments of glass, human bones--which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death? Fairfax becomes determined to discover the truth. Over the course of the next six days, everything he believes--about himself, his faith, and the history of his world--will be tested to destruction"--
The novel opens in the year 1468 with our protagonist, Fr. Christopher Fairfax assigned to the cathedral city of Exeter, England being directed by the Bishop to celebrate at the funeral of the pastor of the distant village, Addicott St. George, who recently died after a fall from a nearby geological outcropping called the Devil's Chair. Shortly after he arrives, Fairfax discovers that the pastor's office contains a number of heretical documents.
If this book is the prequel to other books, I might re-evaluate my rating; however, for now it stands because it of its abrupt and dissatisfying climax.
The fun bit is you start reading a story you think is taking place in the 1400s but soon realize it's 1400 long after our time. For reasons largely unknown, the Internet
But again, this whole thing amounts not to a whole lot, which is disappointing.
A young priest is sent to a tiny village in Exmoor to bury the parish priest who has died after decades in the same parish. He discovers a world of secrets, from the housekeeper’s relationship to the old priest, to the illegal search for evidence of pre-collapse civilisation.
Many of his discoveries take place between the first and second sleeps, as people have reverted to the pre-electric light habit of having a period of waking between two stretches of sleep. ‘The Second Sleep’ begins to take on more meanings as the novel progresses.
Robert Harris is known for his novels of Ancient Rome (Imperium, Lustrum, Pompeii) and of institutions under stress including the army and the church (An Officer and a Spy, Conclave). He writes page-turners, and his writing is simple and clear. You feel the mud and slush of unpaved streets and the smell of animals sharing living space with humans.
The Second Sleep is a compelling novel of the new genre of cli-fi (climate science fiction). Itis a meditation on our world on the brink of great destruction, perhaps brought about by climate change, perhaps not, and our values of freedom and progress.
Harris makes no final judgement as to which is worse, our world or his dystopia, but The Second Sleep is an appeal to maintain an open society in which power is shared between citizens and not centralised in a power-hungry institution.
It is also a novel of finding love and the difficulty of holding onto love in a repressive society. After a slow start with the characters, I enjoyed the priest Fairfax, his Lady, Sarah Durston, and Captain Hancock.
It's set in a post-apocalyptic future. Something has happened to wipe out all technology, and society has basically
The book is kind of a murder mystery - a young priest has been sent to a small town to perform a funeral for the village priest. He soon begins to suspect that there is more to the death than meets the eye, and realizes that the dead priest was involved in a secret society that collected forbidden information about the technology of the civilization that existed before the apocalypse.
The characters are all very flat and trite - there's the naïve young priest, the attractive worldly older woman who is inappropriately independent, the brutish rich man who is determined to control the woman, the oppressive powerful bishop, and the aging charlatan heretic who knows all the forbidden secrets. The women are all attractive (except for an old crone) and all attracted to the priest. Harris tosses these characters together with a bunch of pre-industrial stereotypes, and the story builds and builds, and then he doesn't seem to know what to do with it and it ends all of a sudden.
The best I can say for it is that it's engaging, but there is really nothing original here, and the book doesn't seem to have any point.
I was so looking forward to reading Robert Harris's “The Second Sleep” that I think I gave it too much
I would highly recommend “Little Bird” by Darcy Van Poelgeest, Ian Bertram and Matt Hollingsworth. It's a comic series about a war between a fundamentalist Catholic United Nations of America and a liberal and secular Canada. It's quite heavy on the SF so it might not be everyone's cup of tea but it touches on the same themes as similar premises such as “The Handmaid's Tale” but of course with beautiful and intricate drawings by Ian Bertram and fantastic colours by Matt Hollingsworth.
It's a disturbing thought that the modern world, with its Enlightenment values and scientific progress, might be a historical blip. The industrial revolution is the material basis for it all, and what's left to sustain it once we've squandered those resources? Of course, Enlightenment values did not come into being out of the blue. They have had antecedents throughout history. As has science and empiricism. All ancient cultures did science. They all exercised scepticism - maybe a bit less than they could have, but then they did not have the luxury of vast amounts of data. They all asked questions about the role of the state, and the responsibility of rulers towards their subjects. They may not have reached the same answers as the Enlightenment, but the striving towards greater knowledge, and better forms of social organisation, was universal.
SF = Speculative Fiction.
The book was going along nicely, was thoroughly immersed in the story, wondering where it would lead and how it would end, when it went off the rails. Wish the ending wouldn't have been as melodramatic as it turned out, I was enjoying the literay flavor of the read, and the ending put to much into too short of page amount. I did though enjoy the stories originality, so there is that. Pros and cons, but still worth reading.
ARC from Edelweiss.
Entertaining and well written, the book sets the stage for what is apparently planned for a sequel. As others have said, this book reminds me of the 1959 novel, "A Canticle for Leibowitz", by Walter M. Miller. A sense of feeling that past years were better than the current ones adds to the dystopian atmosphere of the book. I also like any book that quotes freely from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
Like other reviewers, I feel the dénouement was abrupt and the reader is left hanging. I hope this is because a sequel is on the way, which I truly would like to read. Recommended.
In a future middle ages, a young priest is sent on a 30-mile journey from Exeter to bury the priest of a small hamlet. He discovers that the priest was interested in antiquities, a heretical study condemned by the church with prison
The story is centered on a young priest who is sent to a very rural village. Harris provides the reader with interesting well developed characters and a mystery or two to puzzle out with the priest. I would tend to agree with other readers that the first half or so of the novel is the better part and the second half lackluster. The ending is very underwhelming and a disappointment. I also think things may be left open for a followup novel, but we shouldn't need that for what we should have had at the end of this one.
There is enough in here to give a reader something to think about, maybe something you have noticed happening over the past 25 years, and the consequences of that. I was also a little intrigued with the subject of the title - something I had never ever considered before, that human sleep patterns may have been very different before gas and electric lighting. And I don't mean an early to bed early to rise function of rural existence.
In sum I liked this quite a bit.
There is a degree of mindfuckery going on here but I wont spoil it by telling you how that works, just be prepared to be surprised and surprised again when the surprise you get is not the surprise you were
Superficially simple, but anything but.
Very enjoyable indeed.
All gradually becomes clear, however, when we discover that, far from being set in the past, this is a novel of the future, set some eight hundred years after a catastrophe which had seen the twenty-first century world go through a major systemic meltdown which resulted in the loss of electronic and industrial capacity, along with a resurgence of religious belief. Society is gradually re-established, with Christian faith forming a far more significant pillar of life that at any time for several centuries, and the calendar is recalibrated to begin at the suitably apocalyptic year of 666.
Fairfax duly conducts the funeral, and stays on in Father Lacey’s house for a few days, celebrating communion and undertaking several priestly duties in the area. He also discovers that Father Lacey had had a deep, and perhaps unhealthy, interest in history. Among the records and general paraphernalia in his study are some old correspondence relating to investigations of the years immediately preceding The Fall, along with some strange devices which the reader clearly identifies as mobile phones and tablets. Such interests are frowned upon by the Church, and constitute heresy.
Harris depicts all this with his customary vigour, and verisimilitude is bolstered by the occasional, even casual, drip feed of information about the nature of the apocalypse, and the stages by which society had been re-established. He always writes well, with engaging, empathetic characters and plausible story lines. I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as some of his other novels, but I still felt he had succeeded in weaving a gripping story.
This was a page turner of a book, and while it didn't end up where I was expecting, the ending was nonetheless very satisfying ...
Anyway, the novel is set in 1468. A young priest has arrived in a remote village to conduct the funeral for the village priest who has died under mysterious circumstances. His death may be related to his hobby of collecting artifacts from the past, including strange devices embossed with the symbol of the devil--an apple with a bite taken out of it. The mystery of course is what caused civilization to collapse, and why are people continuing to live in primitive circumstances.
This was a nice quick read. Nothing earth-shatteriing, but definitely diverting. Recommended for escapist reading.
Brilliant idea for a book and the first half 2/3rds was really page turning, but the ending was just such a let down. It was almost as if Harris couldn't wait to get it done or simply ran out of ideas, or more than likely committed himself to the book and the ending and didn't want to give up. It's not a bad read by any means but it definitely isn't his best. Worth a look though.