In this epic sequel of Pillars of the Earth, we're taken back to Kingsbridge. The church has been standing now for a while, John the builder is long gone, but similar problems with the town still exist. There's a guild who doesn't treat people fairly, the priory only cares about power, and the sprinkling of good people seems to be less than those out for themselves. We're introduced to Merthin, a talented builder that descends from John, Caris, a very independent young lady who wants to learn how to help heal people, Gwenda, who comes from a poor family and doesn't want to stay that way, and Ralph, Merthin's brother who is mean spirited and wants to become a knight.
This book is just as captivating as the first. You're pulled in to the lives of these characters and get to follow them through many years. Thankfully, there is a lot of happiness, although a lot of heartache required to get there. I'd like to say that everyone gets what they deserve, but they don't. Some characters got off rather easy, but that's what help makes this book real.
I enjoyed Merthin's descriptions of how to build a bridge and what to look for to ensure that water doesn't destroy the bridge again. It's amazing that people had this all figured out back in the 1300s.
As much as I enjoyed this book, and its predecessor Pillars of the Earth, I'm not sure I'd want to read another book in this format. Having one follow up book similar to Pillars of the Earth is great, two may be too much.
First Line: "Gwenda was eight years old, but she was not afraid of the dark."