It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages. England is facing attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. A young boatbuilder's life is turned upside down when the only home he's ever known is raided by Vikings. A Norman noblewoman marries for love, following her husband across the sea to a new land. A monk dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a center of learning that will be admired throughout Europe.
The secret to writing a successful series is giving the reader more of the same, with variation. It’s a trick Follett has mastered with this series, which spans several centuries ... The similarities also come from the likable figures that Follett, expert at developing relatable characters, creates with skill ... Follett adroitly captures life in the 10th century.
[Follett's] re-creation of the period — the hazards, the harsh physical realities, the competing influences of politics and religion — is detailed and convincing, providing a solid underpinning to the later installments of the Kingsbridge series ... Taken both individually and together, the Kingsbridge books are as comprehensive an account of the building of a civilization — with its laws, structures, customs and beliefs — as you are likely to encounter anywhere in popular fiction. Despite their daunting length, these novels are swift, accessible and written in a clear, uncluttered prose that has a distinctly contemporary feel. At times, the prose can feel a bit too contemporary ... Mostly, though, Follett writes in a transparent style that rarely calls attention to itself, moving his outsized narratives steadily — and compulsively — forward ... Follett presents his worlds in granular detail, but the narratives never stand still. Something dramatic, appalling or enraging happens in virtually every chapter ... The result is a massive entertainment that illuminates an obscure corner of British history with intelligence and great narrative energy. The Evening and the Morning is a most welcome addition to the Kingsbridge series. I hope it won’t be the last.
Follett’s choice of language and explication accommodate an audience unfamiliar with the period, painting a large canvas with broad Dark Ages strokes. Violence, rape, slavery, romance, power plays, and human striving all combine into Follett’s absorbing and lengthy saga of life in a chaotic and unstable England on the cusp of the Middle Ages.