MLA Gold Award Site

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
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  May 2008
    624 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

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?

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

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).

The information about Cathedral of the Sea shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

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.

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Information

More Information

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

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday
    by Susan Rivers

    A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Widow

"Engrossing."
- Stephen King

A loving husband or a heartless killer…She'd know. Wouldn't she?

Enter

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: A Question of Mercy
    A Question of Mercy
    by Elizabeth Cox
    Authors leave little gifts for readers, which seem to turn up at the exact right moment. Perhaps a ...
  • Book Jacket: The Terranauts
    The Terranauts
    by T.C. Boyle
    In an increasingly noisy and fractious world, the idea of "getting away from it all" holds ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Gardens of Consolation
    by Parisa Reza
    The Gardens of Consolation introduces 12-year-old Talla, and her 20-year-old husband Sadar, as they ...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H I A H Does

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.