Cathedral of the Sea: Book summary and reviews of Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

Cathedral of the Sea

A Novel

By Ildefonso Falcones

Cathedral of the Sea
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  • Published in USA  May 2008,
    624 pages.

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Book Summary

Cathedral of the Sea follows the fortunes of the Estanyol family, from their peasant roots to a son, Arnau, who flees the land only to realize spectacular wealth and devastating problems. During Arnau’s lifetime Barcelona becomes a city of light and darkness, dominated by the construction of the city’s great pride—the cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar—and by its shame, the deadly Inquisition. As a young man, Arnau joins the powerful guild of stone-workers and helps to build the church with his own hands, while his best friend and adopted brother Joan studies to become a priest. When Arnau, who secretly loves a forbidden Jewish woman named Mar, is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face to face with his own brother. Will he lose his life just as his beloved Cathedral of the Sea is finally completed?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[M]ost of this novel is tediously dry, concentrating more on history and less on character and plot. For a far more spirited work on a similar theme, stick with Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth." - Library Journal.

"Less learned than the work of compatriot Arturo Perez-Reverte, but more intelligent than the average beach book. " - Kirkus Reviews.

" Unfortunately, the historical elements outweigh character and plot development. Nonetheless, this is a well-written and complex work. Recommended to libraries with interests in historical novels, as well as new-Spanish writing." - Criticas.

"“With Cathedral of the Sea, Ildefonso Falcones dethrones Eduardo Mendoza and Arturo Perez Reverte . . . and has become Spain’s new Dan Brown." - El Mundo.

"The plot features thwarted romance, war, plague, immolations and self-immolations, set in a Machiavellian world ruled by privilege, cronyism and brute force. The melodrama is sometimes laid on thick, but Falcones's rich portrait of medieval society is fascinating." - Publishers Weekly.

"The plot too often relies on outrageous coincidence; the style rarely rises above the ordinary; good Arnau is too good. Unlike the best Stevenson or Dumas adventures, the characters are one-dimensional, without contradictions. Little of this matters once within the story. Cathedral of the Sea is an exciting, very readable adventure novel, enriched by realistic descriptions of medieval life, work, finance and politics." - The Independent (UK).

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Marilyn Brown
Excellent Read
The book is a great historical novel that makes you feel involved and it was very hard to put it down. My daughter gave it to me as part of my 2012 Christmas gift, and now we have to go to Barcelona. We have our flight booked for August this year and I will definitely check out this actual Church.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Elizabeth
Gripping, Intense, Beautiful
The book was a little slow at first, but the history of Barcelona, the building of the church, and the way people lived and were ruled was fascinating. It also makes one glad to not be living during that era.

It is a long book, but it gets better so don't give up. I enjoyed the history lesson and, of course, the descriptions of ancient Barcelona...what a beautiful, historical city then and now. 5/5

Proud Spanish families, medieval times, the feudal system, lords, serfs, peasants, submission, the plague, and, of course, beautiful Barcelona....all of this and more are the makeup of Cathedral of the Sea.

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Cathedral of the Sea was Spain's #1 bestseller for a full year. Rights have been sold in thirty-two countries to date.

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