by Ken Follett
I was warned that this book is long, so I've taken it slowly between other reads. It's a Historical Fiction set in The English Civil War, starting 1135. Tom Builder is a mason with a dream of building a cathedral. Earlier, two brothers, Phillip and Francis, see their parents slaughtered by English soldiers and before the men kill the children too, the local Abbott steps in and takes them to the sanctuary of the monastery. They grow up as monks, but both are sent into the world to do God's work.
It's a story of political savagery, corruption among monks, redemption and burning ambition. There are a few triggers here because people in that era could be brutal and life was hard. The historical accuracy is good, apart from the reactions of women. The author really seriously does not understand women!
Despite that, the story itself kept me interested and a lot of my other books have been neglected for it. The primary character is Phillip, who becomes Prior of Kingsbridge. Much of the story is set around his desire to see a cathedral built in his village, though monastery funds are insufficient. Tom builder comes along and desperate for food and any kind of work, they strike a deal.
There is a lot going on elsewhere in the story, but it all ties together in the sage of building Kingsbridge cathedral and the people who support or oppose the project. One important character is Aliena, the daughter of a deposed Earl who finds her way in life, overshadowed by an oath to her father to restore her younger brother to the Earldom. The man sitting in the chair, William Hamleigh, is a vile man of violence. Any more I could say about him would give spoilers.
The political intrigue involves the church as much as the king and nobles. People believe unquestioningly and the disapproval of a priest can strike the fear of Hell fire into even the highest placed personages.
The story really kept my attention, though I felt an important plot point late in the story was too rushed and female reactions, especially to sex, were totally unrealistic and reminded me of the cliché bad 1970s porn movies.
Very good Historical Fiction for the not too squeamish.