The Evening and the Morning: The Prequel to The Pillars of the Earth, A Kingsbridge Novel (Kingsbridge-saga, 0)

by Ken Follett

Paperback, 2021



Call number



Pan (2021), Edition: Main Market, 912 pages


"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. Thirty years ago, Ken Follett published his most popular novel, The Pillars of the Earth. Now, Follett's masterful new prequel The Evening and the Morning takes us on an epic journey into a historical past rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate, that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member hobbitprincess
This book came as a big surprise to me, something I ran across on Facebook. I was so excited to learn that there was a prequel to the Pillars of the Earth series. I couldn't get my hands on it fast enough, and it didn't disappoint. This book did not require me to make a character list or find one
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on the internet, and that made it easy to follow the plot. The selfish actions of several of the characters became very frustrating at some points, but to me that's the mark of a good author. This one will definitely stay on my shelf.
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LibraryThing member santhony
This is a prequel of the authors Pillars of the Earth, which I read a number of years ago along with its sequel, World Without End. It has been so long ago, that I had to look up my review to see if I liked them; turns out that I did.

Which is a little surprising, since I really didn’t care much
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for this novel, especially the writing style, which I found to be quite simple; limited vocabulary, short sentences, bad dialogue. Likewise, the plot was extremely predictable and uninteresting. The characters are one-dimensional caricatures.


Norman princess marries an English lord in the year 997, and becomes embroiled in a family power struggle. The princess is a strong feminist, facing the stepmother of her husband and her two sons, one a bishop, the other an evil dolt. Her husband has an ex-wife that he continued to sleep with and a Welsh slave girl that also enjoys his affections.

As you can imagine, the bishop is irredeemably wicked. The second major character is a young man with many talents, something of a medieval renaissance man. He befriends the princess and…you can imagine.

Much of the dialogue is atrocious. Many of the circumstances and events are unrealistic and verge on silly. I can’t imagine that the earlier works read similarly, or I would not have rated them so highly. I DO note that some of the author’s other work that I have read did not rate so highly and suffer from the same issues.

Now, this is a very large and heavy book. The story and the writing would seem to appeal to the kind of audience that might be intimidated by such a hefty tome. Either that, or be disappointed that it didn’t measure up to the others in the series.
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LibraryThing member Black-Lilly
What a mess!
After I was positive surprised by "A Column of Fire" after "A Worlds End" was such a smut fest, "The Evening and the Morning" is again a major let down.
I can see that Follett had the background story in his head ever since he came up with Pillars and wanted to finally write it down.
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What he did in the end, was not focusing on the politics or the building of the city that would become Kingsbridge, but he put his whole effort in a story line that reads like a bad romance novel in places.
That he likes to have a happy ending for his heroes is one thing, but in this book it is just too much, both Ragna and Edgar are borderline Mary Sue (do they have any weakness?) and the villains are so comical that all they need is a top hat and a monocle to make it perfect. (Oh, and a handlebar mustache I guess.)
The jacket talks about that three lives are interwoven but we hardly hear anything of the third person. Everything which has to do with the growth of Dreng's Ferry to King's Bridge is basically ignored or only mentioned in passing.
The story is so thin, the only reason it ended up over 900 pages was the insane amount of smut and if there was no sex than there was violence, and in some cases both together.
I do not say no smut normally, if it is good written, but in this case, it felt like as if he had text modules from his previous works which he just reused, but then, the whole story felt like a weak third brewing, repeating a lot of ideas from the other three installments.

Even though this book is like a car crash where you have to look on (I took breaks from reading at times, as it was just too silly), I have to give it to Mr Follett that his writing is entertaining, and which is the only reason I did finish the book and why I added an extra half star.
If this would have been the first book I read about Kingsbridge, it would have been most likely my last.
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LibraryThing member bibliotecayamaguchi
From the bestselling author Ken Follett, The Evening and the Morning is a historical epic that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins.

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages, and England faces attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Life is hard, and
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those with power wield it harshly, bending justice according to their will – often in conflict with the king. With his grip on the country fragile and with no clear rule of law, chaos and bloodshed reign.

Into this uncertain world three people come to the fore: a young boatbuilder, who dreams of a better future when a devastating Viking raid shatters the life that he and the woman he loves hoped for; a Norman noblewoman, who follows her beloved husband across the sea to a new land only to find her life there shockingly different; and a capable monk at Shiring Abbey, who dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a centre of learning admired throughout Europe.

Now, with England at the dawn of the Middle Ages, these three people will each come into dangerous conflict with a ruthless bishop, who will do anything to increase his wealth and power, in an epic tale of ambition and rivalry, death and birth, and love and hate.
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LibraryThing member fredreeca
This is an epic novel full of Vikings, power hungry family members, slaves, and monks. It is full of rich history and a tad bit of love thrown in the mix. No one does historical fiction like Ken Follett. He is the master! And this story will have you on the edge of your seat.

I do prefer to listen
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to Follett’s books. His books are rather large and I have so much to read for my blog. It is just much easier to listen at this time in my life. He also has the best narrator, John Lee. So, even though I was gifted a copy of the ebook, I purchased the audible.

This story captivated me from the start with the Viking raid. And the intensity just did not let up. This is a masterful piece of work!

Need a fabulous historical saga…wow! Grab this one today! It is superb!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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LibraryThing member shazjhb
Such a wonderful book. Pity the bad guys seem to win so frequently. Love the history of early England
LibraryThing member waldhaus1
I read the pillars of the Earth in the mid eighties. I started it on a plane flight from Florida to Aruba. I enjoyed it and continued the saga as each sequel was published. There is always a fascinating mixture of history and a good story in each volume. The characters are interesting. This is a
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love story and forms a good foundation and prequel to the series.
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LibraryThing member VictoriaJZ
a good introduction to what life might have been like = nitty and gritty - in the 10th Century
LibraryThing member DidIReallyReadThat
The story is set in the Dark Ages in England when the country was experiencing viking raids and welsh unsettlement. The story centres on a small town called Dreng's Ferry. It follows several characters (Ragna, Edgar, Wynstan, etc.) throughout their lives as they contribute to the evolution of the
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town of Dreng's Ferry to the town of Kingsbridge.

This is classic Ken Follett in his "historical fiction" phase. There are plenty of characters that you love to hate and who seem to get away with all crimes no matter how bad. There are several characters who only try to do what right and seem to rarely get rewarded for it. The end of the book is satisfying.
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LibraryThing member RonWelton
Ken Follett's The Evening and the Morning is the prequel to his The Pillars of the Earth, which is set during the twelfth century in the fictional town of Kingsbridge from about 1120 to 1170. This novel opens July 17, 1997 near Combe, England. Follett develops three main characters from contrasting
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social levels to tell the story: Edgar, the boatbuilder's son, is exceptionally bright and intrepid; Ragna, often known as Deborah for her judicial skill, daughter of Count Hubert of Cherbourg; and Prior Aldred a pious, ambitious and brilliant monk.
The Evening and the Morning, though set in the tenth century is a completely modern novel with an abundance of explicit sex, a nod to homosexuality, sweet, sentimental romance, vicious villainy, wicked tyrannical men, and a number of strong, competent women. It is a brilliantly written historical novel which portrays medieval society vividly and details the ordinary details of life.
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LibraryThing member brangwinn
I love Ken Follett’s series that began with The Pillars of the Earth. Now he has written a prequel for it. And it continues to please. I know the bad guys are going to lose in the end, but they always hang on until the last pages. As in the other three books, the characters are connected to
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Kingsbridge, which in this case was the small hamlet of Dreng’s Ferry. It is a story of the Dark Ages, beginning in 997 with a Viking attack. What I found most interesting about this book is the focus on small projects, like a bridge which replaced the ferry, bringing more people into town as well as building of a small monastery church. Technology today seems so small, and yet it was an important part of the buildup of building the large cathedrals. What surprised me—the local priest’s determination to provide education to laypeople. Yes, for the most part they were monied people because the school supported the church. I thought that during the dark ages books were chained to the shelves of the church libraries and because knowledge was power, only the local aristocracy and the religious leaders were allowed to read. And yet here, Brother Aldred is determined to start a school. In exchange for Edgar, a boatbuilder who evolved into a carpenter, building the bridge Edgar taught him to read.
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LibraryThing member ritaer
Norman noblewoman marries Saxon noblewoman but is disappointed to find him unfaithful and his family corrupt and vicious. A boatsmith is left without a trade by Viking raid and becomes a builder. A monk dreams of creating a center of learning. Their stories intertwine in Deng's Ferry with becomes
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King's Bridge.
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LibraryThing member WiserWisegirl
The history has been stained by an everpresent sophomoric twist of sexual inuendo and a spicy dash of TMI romance. Mr. Follet I enjoyed your past delves into historic timelines of town life and architecture. I now think less of you.
LibraryThing member KatKealy
Another great book in the series of my favorite book of all time (The Pillars of the Earth). Not as good as the original, but I really enjoyed this one. If you like the Pillars of the Earth series, this is a must read!
LibraryThing member drmom62
Ramped up princess story
LibraryThing member drmom62
Ramped up princess story
LibraryThing member acargile
This novel is the prequel to Pillars of the Earth, which was published in 1989. I had to re-read Pillars a couple of years ago and have been reading all the sequels. I was surprised to learn this novel was the prequel when I started reading it; it akes place in late 990s - early 1000s, a little
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over a hundred years before the events of Pillars of the Earth. There's another novel about to come out as well that will be book 4. Wow--lots of years of writing covers this series. This novel is my second favorite--behind Pillars.

A family's destruction by the Vikings pushes them to leave all they know and move to a new place to live. Edgar plans on leaving with the love of his life on the night the Vikings arrive. His love dies and Edgar discovers he can kill if necessary. His father also dies, so his family move to some land they're told they can farm. Edgar's mother is a smart and strong woman. She knows a bit about farming as well as how to judge people and get the most from them. Edgar's brothers lack his intellect. They are much simpler men who require little in terms of intellectual pursuits. They're a bit whiny. I don't think they would survive without Edgar and their mother. Edgar and his brothers learned how to build boats from their father, so this new path in life has a large learning curve. Edgar thinks constantly; he has an engineering brain and can figure out how to make something work. He's creative and smart. He also doesn't follow every female. He loves one woman and she's dead. This new place, Dreng's Ferry, is pretty rural and crude. The people in charge lack character. It's a hard life for Edgar. The positive side of this life is Aldred, a local monk who wants to create a library at the abbey in Shiring. He doesn't have an easy time of it either, but like Edgar, he has dreams and desires to improve life. They represent the "good," the people who strive to help society advance as they care for others.

Ragna meets Wilwulf when he comes to France to discuss the Vikings. She falls for him immediately and agrees to marry him, moving to England. Life for women in this time period wasn't easy. Women were possessions. Ragna possesses great intellect and knows how to rule an area. She's considered a fair judge and a good manager. The men do not necessarily acknowledge this skill. After all, they are men and she's a woman. Men also aren't known for faithfulness; after all, men are men. They can pursue whatever they like as the superior gender. Ragna battles for power and control as effectively as she can. She's good at strategy and truly loves her husband. She finds Edgar, Aldred, and the sheriff Den helpful because they all want the same things and are reliable and trustworthy. Those who aren't as helpful include Wilwulf's family: Bishop Winston, Wigelm, and some extended family members.

To keep from giving anything away, I'll stop at this point. I really liked this novel. I liked the focused story; there weren't a lot of characters and the novel takes place in a small area. I loved learning how Dreng's Ferry became Kingsbridge. These early seeds make Pillars possible.
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LibraryThing member sgsmitty
Another good and consistent book by Ken Follett. If you enjoyed his other Kingsbridge books you should enjoy this one as well. With this one we travel back in time to before Pillars of the Earth. This book follows in many ways the same style and formula as other books in the series. For some that
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might be a negative but for me I expected it and enjoyed it none the less.
The picture that is painted of the world in the Dark Ages I found intriguing and educational. The characters of Edgar and Ragna where well fleshed out and easy to love. You pretty much know how it is going to end but it is the road there that makes it all worthwhile.
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LibraryThing member LynnMPK
Amazing and full of drama, as always. The Vikings were not as prevalent as I thought they would be. Just mentioned here and there as having raided some such town or city. The characters were great. The story was compelling.

There is a definite story progression/trajectory with these books though. I
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can see how they might feel a bit same-y to someone who didn't vibe with them. I jokingly tell people that Ken Follett only knows how to write one story and he just keeps changing the character names. I love them though and I could read a million of these books.
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LibraryThing member witchyrichy
I spent a lot of time reading last week, escaping into books. The weekend was devoted to the Ken Follett novel I found on the bedroom bookshelf. Not sure where it came from but it was the prequel to the Kingsbridge series, which I loved. The Evening and the Morning takes place in the town that will
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eventually become Kingsbridge, during the late Dark Ages, 997 - 1007. Viking raids play a key role in the plot as well as the somewhat loose hold King Æthelred, known as Æthelred the Unready, had on England. The bad guys in this book are a family of three men who basically control the church and the judiciary in the area around Kingsbridge, ignoring any fines from the crown when they break the rules. Of course, there is goodness as well but Follett manages to twist the plot so you wonder if good actually will triumph this time. It was a well-told story and a nice diversion from our grief. It also spurred me on to read some of the other chunksters on the shelf like The Luminaries.
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LibraryThing member rgderouen
I loved the Pillars of the Earth series, so when I heard there was going to be a prequel, I was hoping to read this book. My daughters got me this and Never from Follett and I was hooked. I am a big fan of historical fiction and Follett is a master of this genre. Set in the Dark ages, three main
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characters fates become interwoven. Follett does a great job of mixing in vilanous priests and a romance between unlikely candidates. All good, medieval fun!
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LibraryThing member WiserWisegirl
The history has been stained by an everpresent sophomoric twist of sexual inuendo and a spicy dash of TMI romance. Mr. Follet I enjoyed your past delves into historic timelines of town life and architecture. I now think less of you.
LibraryThing member CassiesBooksReader
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett is Historical Fiction and is the prequel to The Pillars of the Earth. This book is set in England in the Middle Ages 997 AD.
It is quite a privilege to read the latest Ken Follett book. This series is memorable as are the characters and worthy to be read
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again. I have loved this series because of its rich historical details. Immediately you are drawn into the story and it will not let you go. While reading the words you see your surroundings, hear the sounds, feel even the heat of the sun, and know the thoughts of each character. Will I sleep the next few days or read and live through this book? I don’t know how to express how much I enjoyed this book and wish it went on and on.
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. I appreciate the opportunity and thank the author and publisher for allowing me to read, enjoy and review this book. 5 Stars
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LibraryThing member decaturmamaof2
I really enjoyed this rich character study of Ragna of Cherbourg, Edgar the Builder, Aldred the monk and all the others. Dark Ages indeed....


The British Book Industry Awards (Shortlist — Fiction — 2021)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

912 p.; 7.76 inches


1447278801 / 9781447278801
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