Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones

Cathedral of the Sea
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 de la 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?

What a long read this one has been - 3 months with one book! Definitely not normal for me. I don't know if it was reading it in a new language, or the fact that it is indeed a big book or the story itself, but this one just kept going on and on.

I've read other books while reading this one, usually picking them up because I needed something lighter to read. But that doesn't mean I wasn't liking it. Because I did like it, but can't really say I loved it, either - it was an ok book, full of drama, and intrigue.

As a piece of historical fiction it is great, and it's greater still because I am in the city where it takes place - streets and villages are familiar to me, and I could get a sense of what and where it was happening.

But I think in the end it ended up being too much drama and too long for me to properly enjoy. I liked it while reading, but didn't have an overwhelming urge to know what was going to happen next. But I was able to pick this one up at random times and stop reading for a long time without really losing anything. It is kind of memorable, and but all so pretty much meh...

There must be have been a lot of research made into this (there is a long author's note at the end where I think he explains all the research and where ideas come from, but, surprise surprise, I didn't bother to read), and it shows. But when the fiction begins, and especially with the characters, it falls a bit flat. The characters had depth, and were well thought, but I just couldn't relate with them. Any of them. Which is really sad.

It's a long epic book, and it's quite good in its genre, but the truth is that it didn't pull me in like other books usually do.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This Book on: LibraryThing | Goodreads | Bookdepository UK | Bookdepository US | Amazon UK | Amazon US |


  1. Quigui! You know the trouble with books is there are so many of them, far more than there are movies or games. You could spend your entire life reading nothing but the classics, and you’d still miss countless gems. Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire? I ask because you often delve into fantasy realms, and I’m thinking of starting on this particular series after watching that new Game of Thrones TV show.

  2. You are absolutely right, there are too many of them to be able to read them all. A Song of Ice and Fire has been on my wishlist for some years now, and I still haven't got around to buy it. With the TV series coming on I really want to read the books before watching it. It might turn out to be one of my next buys.

  3. Yeah, I'm definitely NOT reading this one O_O
    I hate not relating with the characters. Hate it.