Ken Follett’s long-awaited The Evening and the Morning hit library shelves today, September 15. This prequel to The Pillars of the Earth creates a new beginning to the Kingsbridge cycle, the hugely popular series that ignited an interest in history for many readers. The Pillars of the Earth centered on the building of a cathedral in an English town and its successors span the centuries of the town following the cathedral’s completion. Here are selections of non-fiction on the periods covered and historical figures who feature in the novels, a number of epic historical novels that fans of the series might enjoy, and DVD selections featuring relevant characters. There’s plenty to keep you busy while you wait for your hold on The Evening and the Morning to come through (or after you finish the book and aren’t ready to leave those time periods)
The Evening and the Morning- 997 CE- 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. 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. 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 she begins to realize that everyone around her is engaged in a constant, brutal battle for power. 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.
The Pillars of the Earth- The story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect--a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.
World WIthout End- In Kingsbridge, two centuries aftr completion of the cathedral, the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroads of new ideas--about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race--the Black Death.
A Column of Fire- As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love. Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else--no matter what the cost.
King Stephen and the Anarchy by Chris Peers (ebook)- An in-depth study of the Anarchy, the protracted struggle between Stephen of Blois and the Empress Matilda for the English crown between 1135 and 1154, with descriptions of each phase of this civil war, in particular the castles and sieges that dominated strategic thinking.
Northmen: the Viking Saga, 793-1241 AD by John Haywood- Recounting the sage of the Viking age, from the creation of their world through to the dwindling years of halfhearted raids and elegiac storytelling in the thirteenth century. Focusing on key events, including the sack of Lindisfarne in 793 and the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066.
Edward III and the Perfect King by Ian Mortimer (ebook)- Holding power for over fifty years starting in 1327, Edward III was one of England's most influential kings-and one who shaped the course of English history. Revered as one of the country's most illustrious leaders for centuries, he was also a usurper and a warmonger who ordered his uncle beheaded. A brutal man, to be sure, but also a brilliant one.
The Betrayal of Mary Queen of Scots: Elizabeth I and her greatest rival by Kate Williams- Elizabeth and Mary were cousins and queens, but eventually it became impossible for them to live together in the same world. This is the story of two women struggling for supremacy in a man's world, when no one thought a woman could govern. They both had to negotiate with men--those who wanted their power and those who wanted their bodies--who were determined to best them. They loved each other, they hated each other--and in the end they could never escape each other.
Thomas Becket: warrior, priest, rebel by John Guy (ebook)- Becket had many sides- the skilled warrior as comfortable unhorsing an opponent in single combat as he was negotiating terms of surrender; the canny diplomat "with the appetite of a wolf" who unexpectedly became the spiritual paragon of the English church; and the ascetic rebel who waged a high-stakes contest of wills with one of the most volcanic monarchs of the Middle Ages. Driven into exile, derided by his enemies as an ungrateful upstart, Becket returned to Canterbury in the unlikeliest guise of all: as an avenging angel of God, wielding his power of excommunication like a sword. It is this last apparition, the one for which history remembers him best, that will lead to his martyrdom at the hands of the king's minions.
The Last Hours by Minette Walters- When the Black Death enters England through the port in Dorsetshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is--or how it spreads and kills so quickly. The Church cites God as the cause, and fear grips the people as they come to believe that the plague is a punishment for wickedness. But Lady Anne of Develish has her own ideas and looks for more sensible ways to protect her people than daily confessions of sin.
When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman- As church bells tolled for the death of England's King Henry I, his barons faced the unwelcome prospect of being ruled by a woman: Henry's beautiful daughter Maude, Countess of Anjou. But before Maude could claim her throne, her cousin Stephen seized it. In their long and bitter struggle, all of England bled and burned.
The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell- In the middle years of the ninth century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England--and the course of history--depended upon one man, one king.
Dissolution by C.J. Sansom- In 1537 the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar general, summons fellow reformer Matthew Shardlake to lead the inquiry. Shardlake and his young protégé uncover more than expected.
London by Edward Rutherfurd- The novel follows six different families from the Roman settlement to the dockland development of today. Real-life characters and events of British history are found in this epic, but it is the period details and the stories of ordinary Londoners, whose daily lives are affected by events that have shaped the city over two thousand years, that bring the novel to life.
Gothic Cathedrals: a guide to the history, places, art, and symbolism by Dr. Karen Ralls- From the 12th century through the 16th centuries, the Gothic architectural style spread throughout Europe. Several hundred churches and other public buildings were built, many of which stand to this day. Gothic architecture’s legacy has left religious devotees, pilgrims, artists, scholars, and craftspeople marvelling at the interweaving of mathematical mastery and skilled workmanship in these magnificent edifices.
The Great Mortality: an intimate history of the Black Death, the most devastating plague of all time by John Kelly- A fascinating account of the phenomenon known as the Black Death, this volume offers a wealth of documentary material focused on the initial outbreak of the plague that ravaged the world in the fourteenth century. A comprehensive introduction is followed by documents organized into topical sections that focus on the origin and spread of the illness; the responses of medical practitioners; the societal and economic impact; religious responses; the flagellant movement and attacks on Jews provoked by the plague; and the artistic response.
The Hundred Years War: a people's history by David Green- The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) dominated life in England and France for well over a century. It became the defining feature of existence for generations. This sweeping book is the first to tell the human story of the longest military conflict in history- the war affected different groups, among them knights, clerics, women, peasants, soldiers, peacemakers, and kings.
Queen Emma and the Vikings by Harriet O'Brien- Emma made her mark on a nation beset by Viking raiders at the end of the Dark Ages. At the center of a triangle of Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, and Normans all jostling for control of England, Emma was a political pawn who became a power broker and an unscrupulous manipulator. Regarded by her contemporaries as a generous Christian patron, a regent admired by her subjects, and a Machiavellian mother, Emma was, above all, a survivor: hers was a life marked by dramatic reversals of fortune.
Stormbird by Conn Iggulden- Book one in Iggulden’s saga of the two families who plunged England into a decades long civil war. In 1437, the Lancaster king Henry VI ascends the throne of England after years of semi-peaceful regency. A secret truce negotiated with France to trade British territories for a royal bride--Margaret of Anjou--sparks revolts across English territory. The rival royal line, the House of York, sees the chaos brought on by Henry's weakness and with it the opportunity to oust an ineffectual king.