October 09, 2011

The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd

I've read Edward Rutherfurd before and was mightily impressed with that previous tome. This one, while still meticulously researched, was just not quite as good. It still had a lot of details, but unfortunately it also had a lot of chances for allowing the reader to get lost in those details.

The Forest deals with a period of almost a thousand years in the history of the New Forest of England. Through these times, Rutherfurd weaves the tale of several inhabitants of the area and their descendants. The Pride family, and the Albions, in particular saw a lot of time in the book with different branches of their family appearing quite often through the different ages. It also explored the different ways that the people lived in each of these eras and the feuds that were sometimes between families carried down as an intense dislike for certain names. But the book too was about the actual Forest and how it was preserved and taken up through the different times. Always a preserve it showed how people desired a piece of it.

None of the family lines particularly jumped out at me. Well, none of the human lines that is. In the first part there was a story about some deer and I was deeply disappointed to see that it wasn't continued throughout the whole novel. I thought it would have added a nice contrast to the continuing stories of the human elements. There was quite a detail provided about certain families, but with the exception of a few I was a bit muddled on how the names changed and who was actually related to who as the years passed. There were some like the Pride's that were clearly there from the beginning. But others, while I know there was something I missed, I just couldn't figure out which line of family they were descended from.

The whole novel was a bit confusing with all the detail. Which it was rich and obviously well researched, it was also very tedious to read. Rutherfurd's previous works, while having the same amount of detail, did not have nearly that much confusion associated with them. Most of the aspects were interesting and some time periods were definitely more enchanting to read than others. I especially liked the earlier periods of history within the book.

Not one of his better ones but still an interesting to read. I like Sarum more, but if you like historical fiction that rings with truth, this would probably be right up your alley.

The Forest
Copyright 2005
784 pages

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