Ildefonso Falcones, Los herederos de la tierra [The inheritors of the earth], 2016, 896 p.
Barcelona, 1387. The bells of Santa María de la Mar church still sound for all of the Ribera neighborhood’s inhabitants, but one of them listens to their ringing with special attention… Hugo Llor, the son of a dead sailor, who as a 12 year old works in the shipyards due to the generosity of one of the most respected gentlemen of the city: Arnau Estanyol.
But his youthful dreams of becoming a shipbuilder have to face a hard and merciless reality when the Puig family, archenemies of his mentor, use their position before the new king to execute a vengeance they had cherished for years.
From this moment onwards Hugo’s life oscillates between his loyalty to Bernat, his friend and Arnau’s only son, and the necessity to survive in a city that doesn’t treat its poor in a just way.
Forced to leave the Ribera neighborhood, Hugo looks for work together with Mahir, a jew who teaches him the secrets of the world of wine. With him, among vineyards, vats and stills, the young man discovers the passion for the terroir, and at the same time he gets to know Dolça [“sweet”], the jew’s beautiful niece who will be his first love. But this feeling, forbidden from custom and religion, will be the one that will give him the sweetest and also the most bitter moments of his youth.
Ten years after Cathedral of the Sea, Ildefonso Falcones return to this world that he knows so well, medieval Barcelona. And he does so by another time recreating to perfection this effervescent feudal society, prisoner of a fickle and corrupt nobility, and the struggle of a man to get ahead without sacrificing his dignity.
Review [included by the publisher]: “Kipling said that craftsmanship is always at the base of all great art. We have thought of this assessment while reading the abundant (and very elaborate) second part of Cathedral of the Sea […] A good historical novel that achieves to submerge the reader in atmospheres of the past. […] A sequel that is up to the mark of its predecessor.” Carles Barba, Cultura/s, La Vanguardia
A “hyped up” book, published with an initial edition of 400,000 copies, hopefully used to crossfinance other works that don’t find a mass market. This blogger will abstain as he found Cathedral of the Sea too violent, though it probably gives a truthful picture of the Middle Ages, and the story of a wine merchant sounds like a book by Noah Gordon…
The book title probably is an allusion to Matthew 5:5: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
SOURCE: Grijalbo (Penguin Random House)