Cathedral of the Sea

Cathedral of the Sea

by Ildefonso Falcones


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An unforgettable fresco of a golden age in fourteenth-century Barcelona, Cathedral of the Sea is a thrilling historical novel of friendship and revenge, plague and hope, love and war.
Arnau Estanyol arrives in Barcelona to find a city 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 stoneworkers and helps to build the church with his own hands, while his best friend and adopted brother Joanet studies to become a priest.
With time, Arnau prospers and falls secretly in love with a forbidden woman. But when he is betrayed and hauled before the Inquisitor, he finds himself face-to-face with Joanet. Will he lose his life just as his beloved Cathedral of the Sea is finally completed, or will his brother save him?


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451225993
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/07/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 624
Sales rank: 140,507
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Ildefonso Falcones is a Spanish lawyer and the internationally bestselling and award-winning author of Cathedral of the Sea and The Hand of Fatima. With over seven million copies sold, his work has been translated into more than 40 languages worldwide. He lives in Barcelona with his wife and four children.

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Cathedral of the Sea 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Life in the fourteenth century Barcelona where the city is at its peak--the peasant fishermen decide to build, with money from some, and hard work from others, the biggest cathedral near the ocean: Santa Maria del Mar. The construction of the cathedral draws a parallel life to the protagonist, Arnau, a peasant who's violated by his feudal lord on his wedding night. He escapes to Barcelona, where he earns citizenship and with it, his freedom. He starts carrying rocks for the cathedral's construction, and then he plays a major role in defending the city from its enemies. In doing so, he saves the Jewish population and is adopted by a one of them who makes him his apprentice and then a merchant. But with privileges also come the envy and treason from his enemies landing him in trouble with the inquisition.... La Catedral del Mar is the story where loyalty, vengeance, treason, love, disease, and war mix in a world marked by religious intolerance, ambition, and social status. All of these factors make this novel not only a page-turner, but also the most fascinating and ambitious recreation of the feudal age.
Chocolate-Dog More than 1 year ago
The cover is what attracted me to the book and the short summary of the story on the back. It appeared to me to be the story of someone building a cathedral and its religious importance. When I started reading the book I almost quit because I usually do not like stories that take place during such uncivilized and barbaric times as the Spanish Inquisition. But I told myself I was going to give it a chance so I kept reading and I'm glad I did. I learned quite a bit about the history and life during the Inquisition. The author was able to minimize the barbaric ways without taking away from the history of the times to the point I was able to concentrate on the story which turned out to be a mixture of a love story intertwined with the construction of this wonderful cathedral. I would recommend this book to anyone. Don't give up on it after just a few chapters. Keep reading. You'll be glad you did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Becoming very sick of books that just drag on too long in a world where everyone is trying to write "The Epic", it's refreshing to read a book that it worthy of epic status. The plot of this book is nothing short of mesmerizing, built on well-developed characters with talents, flaws, spirituality. Humanism, politics, spirituality, and love all combine into a historical fiction that I could not put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything that you hope for in a book about this time period is here. Very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have passed this book onto 4 other people and they have all loved it. I couldn't recommend it more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While overall, I enjoyed this book, one thing was really annoying. When the author wanted to educate the reader about practices or customs in the middle ages, he would simply have a character actually educate or lecture a younger character. It stuck out like a sore thumb each time. Also, there were a fair amount of typos. The comparison to Pillars of the Earth is thin.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sometimes, a book cover just compels you to pick it up and give it a chance, this was that book for me. I am very pleased with this purchase and have recommended to several friends. This is a beautiful and captivating story in such a dark period of humanity.
pointerbd More than 1 year ago
I admit I originally purchased this book because of the genre and the good reviews it had received- and being a bargain book the price was worth the risk. When the book arrived and I saw the size of it I was a bit daunted. However,once I started reading a few pages I was hooked. Having recently visited Barcelona and the Catalan region of southern France, I was immediatly intrigued by the historical detail and perspective that the book provided. A must read for true fans of Historical Fiction. This is writing at its best- would make a great movie!
KWR57 More than 1 year ago
This is what historical fiction is all about. Great characters. Epic story lines and historical relevance. Falcones attention to detail puts you there in Barcelona circa the early 14th century. He educates while entertaining us. His characters are believable and easy to root for. If you like this genre, than you'll love this novel. I highly recommend it to any reader.
XOgigiXO More than 1 year ago
This story develops around the building of The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar in Barcelona in 1300's. This novel kept me reading late at night. I was intrigued by the power of Love, Perseverance, Injustice, Social Status, and the Inquisition at that time.I was amazed to learn about how Religion and Social Status determine peoples lives in the 1300's. The writter keeps you intrigued from beginning to end.
JMB9517 More than 1 year ago
When I went into Barnes and Noble to make a purchase, I had no idea that I would fall in love with this book. It has been almost two years since I have read it, but the plot, characters, everything are still in my head. This book is captivating, and you will fall in love with characters. This book is a perfectly orchestrated masterpiece!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is great historical novel. I read it in Spanish and I could not put it down. Even though it takes place during the inquisition, it's characters want you to follow their experiences. With regards to your description, you need to make a correction. Mar, the girl he is in love with, is the daughter of Ramon one of the men that had helped Arnau. The jewish girl is the daughter of Hadei. 'When Arnau, who secretly loves a forbidden Jewish woman named Mar...'
Shahge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simple, but good read. Not very illuminating or stimulating.
nicole_a_davis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An interesting story and a good immersion into life in medieval Barcelona, but I didn't come away feeling like I had gotten much out of it. It was such a long story but the whole thing was just a simple straightforward narrative with not a lot of deeper thought.
gregandlarry on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Story of a family living in Barcelona during the building of thee church Santa Maria del Mar in medieval times.Gives an idea of what life might have been like back then. The horrors of war, plague and the Inquisition. Life of pesants, serfs, free citizens of Barcelona and the lords. Covers a lot of historical events.Well written and engaging.
chrisleeclark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hard to put down. It reminded me of the early Spanish picaresque tradition where low life characters struggle to make it in a society dominated by the inflexible code of honour, the bullying power of the Inquisition, vicious anti-Semitism and an unjust feudal system under threat from emerging industry, finance and trade, which in turn are shown to have their own idiosyncratic rules, codes and uncertainties. Women suffer terribly in this story though they exert a powerful influence (as do the slave characters) on events and there is even a suggestion that in and around Barcelona in the late Middle Ages some attempt at a more equitable deal for both sexes was being considered. There's also a thwarted invasion, an outbreak of the plague, a famine and a gem of a church to build.
shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This deservedly award-winning book is an epic life story of one Arnau Estanyol, born a serf in 14th-century Spain. Right from the start, the story has twists and turns of poverty, romance, intrigue, deceit, comraderie, politics--all set in the culturally unique setting of Middle Ages Spain. While the book is educational, it is not overly didactic, and only bogs down occasionally in explaining the architecture and construction of the cathedral--the physical linchpin that the story revolves around. The writing is charged and draws the reader into having reactions to the feudal laws, religious authorities and realities, and is solid while not inspired--the story is the strong point here.
SilversReviews on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
SOME SPOILERS. 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.Beautiful Barcelona was the salvation and dream of all peasants and promised freedom if you lived there for one year and a day. Bernat Estanyols and his infant son Arnau fled to Barcelona to obtain their freedom after they lost everything to the Llorence de Bellera, lord of Navarcles. Llorence was a brutal, greedy man. Luckily Bernat's sister lived in Barcelona and was married to a wealthy potter. His sister allowed him to live in their complex....Bernat worked for his brother-in-law but had to live with the peasants and slaves. Arnau was educated along with his cousins and was allowed to live in the mansion. Bernat and Arnau achieved their year and one day in Barcelona with hardships and heartaches happening in that time frame and then Arnau was forced out of the house because of an incident, became sad because of the incident, and was no longer allowed to live in the mansion and be educated along with his cousins. Arnau has nothing to do during the day but watch his cousins play. One day he meets a tattered young boy with nothing to do either, and they become friends. During their daily searches and playtime, they find the Santa Maria church under construction. They are fascinated with the way the HUGE stones are pulled to the top and put into place. They spend their days at the site providing water to the workers and enjoying their company. As much fun as they were having and despite the friendships they were making, Arnau's father was still despised by his brother-in-law's NEW wife and so was Arnau. She tried to get them in trouble and forced her serfs to do things that would make Bernat and Arnau look like the guilty party. Misfortune continued to plague Arnau and his father as everyone in Barcelona except the rich and noble were starving because there was no wheat to feed anyone or it was at an unreachable price. Arnau gets into some trouble of his own, and the heartache continues in beautiful Barcelona....serfs were never respected and blamed for things they didn't even commit. One piece of good fortune does come to Arnau through his friendships with the bastaixos, the workers who carry the giant boulders for the building of the great cathedral, and Father Albert's kindness and feelings for young Arnau. Arnau becomes favored among his fellow bastaixos and his adopted brother, Joan, studies for the priesthood. Arnau becomes enamored by a girl whose father won't let him marry her and then marries another since his brother said he won't go into the priesthood until Arnau is married and has someone to take care of him. Arnau can't refuse his brother or let him not become a priest so he marries someone he really doesn't love. His wife, Maria, was so kind, affectionate, loving, and trusting and Arnau was not being faithful. He got tired of being unfaithful to his wife since she was such a good person and decided the only way to get away from his mistress was to join the army. His wife was accepting, but his mistress was not. Adventures continue for Arnau...good and bad adventures that include his mistress. When the war was over, Arnau came back home to his wife but happiness still avoided him...the plague had arrived in Barcelona. The Jewish people were blamed for the plague...the citizens of Barcelona were killing the Jewish children and adults...Arnau came between three small children and a citizen who was going to kill them. Arnau was hurt while defending the children, but it turned out to be the best thing that happened to him. The Jewish family nursed Arnau back to health and became very fond of Arnau. To repay Arnau for saving his children, the children's father helped Arnau become a money changer.Another Jewish child had no parents and Arnau was asked to adopt her.
kakadoo202 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
it was so much fun to dive into the old Spain with their laws and traditions. It was like diving intoa different world. interesting characters, pageturner. very easy to read for a historical fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Cycling_Chef More than 1 year ago
This historical fiction door stopper captures the reality of life in the Middle Ages including the harshness and cruelty that many other authors of this genre tend to gloss over. At times the translation made the reading a little awkward, but I easily became involved with the characters who include every dimension of Catalan society from royalty to slaves, merchants to prostitutes and Christians, Moors and Jews. The fast moving plot kept my interest although trying to follow the regional kings and the details of their wars became a bit tiresome. However, just when I thought the book might be slowing down, another realistic crisis hit the pages: starvation, the plague, the Inquisition,… This book has been compared to PILLARS OF THE EARTH because the plot revolves around the building of a cathedral, but I think CATHEDRAL OF THE SEA would best be enjoyed by a more narrow audience of hardcore historical fiction readers who want to learn about Cataluña's culture and this period in Barcelona's history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know... a book which includes the Spanish Inquisition, unbounded brutality and religious bigotry - what could be more depressing?! The pettiness and baseness of mankind remains unchanged even by centuries of eduction and"enlightenment". This would be a good read for the student of world history. The writer researched his subject matter and provided enough information to have a feel for the times and issues peasants, and the disenfranchised of society would have lived through. While the historical details were very interesting, it was not enough for me to become emotionally committed to the characters. HOWEVER one plus - the book did make me most grateful I live at this point in history.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a beautiful story. Others have compared it to " Pillars of the Earth", but the story is only loosely similar, both are great stories though. A couple of parts are akward where the story stumbles trying to give factual historical information regarding wars and changes in leadership, which tells that the writer is inexperienced but the book is a work of love and it shows. The characters are well developed and believable. I truly enjoyed reading this book and would highly recomend. I gave it four stars only because of the flow being interrupted and for the fact that I reserve five stars for very few books I feel are the best for whatever reason that peticular book appeals to my senses, my brain, and emotions. Well this is just my opinion anyway.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago