Dec. 16th, 2010

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Title: Cathedral of the Sea
Author: Ildefonso Falcones
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 607
Date read: December, 2010

Arnau Estanyol arrives in Barcelona and joins the powerful guild of stone-workers building the magnificent cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar, while his adoptive brother Joan studies to become a priest. As Arnau prospers, he secretly falls in love with a forbidden woman. When he 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 is finally completed, or will his brother spare him?

A difficult read, as books set in that time tend to be. It always infuriates me to read how nobels treated peasants, how rich treated poor, how Christians treeated Jews, and how the inquisition acted in general.

But leaving aside my natural distaste for those elements, "Cathedral of the Sea" is a brilliant book that gives a fascinating insight into the life and the times of a man in Barcelona in the 14th century. I loved reading about Joan and Armau's childhood and their fascination with the church of Santa Maria. I did feel Joan's developement wasn't sufficiently explained though.

Life handed Armau a tough hand, and it got a bit frustrating to read how one bad thing after another happened to him, but I enjoyed seeing how he made the most of thing, and kept bouncing back up with the help of kind onlookers.

It is by no means a cozy book, but has its comforting moments - I loved seeing Armau's family and friends rallying around him!


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