What attracted me to this book was primarily because everyone was raving about it and the title was quite intriguing. I would not usually go for an epic historical fiction but… I would usually give many books a go anyway. I have to admit though that this copy has been sitting on my shelf for possibly more than 2 years!
The sheer size of the volume is intimidating. On top of that, it’s set in Medieval England – NOT my favourite setting. Life was just, more often than not, too miserable in that time of history so I try to avoid it. I don’t read to be miserable…
Aliena is a woman to be admired – she is such a strong, beautiful, and intelligent character. I couldn’t believe the number of times she was knocked down and yet, she managed to get up to get going again. And not only that, she continues to be noble, enterprising, and yet good. If I was in her shoes, I think I may have curled up & died in the first instance of terrible happenings! She is verily the strongest female character I’ve read to date (okay, so she doesn’t wield a sword but there is more to kick-ass heroine than an ability with sword).
[hums: I get knocked down / But I get up again / You’re never going to keep me down]
Tom Builder is by far the easiest character to like. Besides being overall likeable – he is an intelligent & gentle man with a penchant for beauty and a vision. His vision in life is to build the most beautiful cathedral. Whilst he is not of nobility, he is noble in his intention (most of the time) and will stand for what is right despite the dangers. I’m just a bit sad that this character wasn’t taken further (‘Nuff said – without being spoiler-ish).
Phillip, on the other hand, makes you wonder whether you would like him in real life or not. Reading him on these pages and having access to his thoughts are what makes him likeable and even, at times, admirable. A through & through man of God, he represents the truly faithful.
This book definitely caught me by surprise though – or better put, I was caught by surprise by the number of times that I am in ignorance of what’s going on around me whilst I’m reading this book. The world building was just so richly textured and the story & characters grabbed hold of my attention sooo very completely that I’m just not aware of the goings-on around me. That was really something I did not expect. A masterpiece it is, indeed.