London, by Edward Rutherford, is an excellent historical work. Although the novel is spread out over 1124 pages, 21 chapters, and 2051 years, Rutherford expertly keeps the reader's interest. The overwhelming amount of material is woven intricately through the lives of loveable fictional characters.
Beginning in the year 54 B.C., the book proves itself to be a primarily historical novel. The first few pages are rather boring, as they cover the geological processes that formed England. However, once characters are introduced, the book holds you captive.
Rutherford's agenda seems to be to educate his audience, without allowing them to realize that they are learning. It is impossible for one to complete this novel without absorbing any number of little facts. How many people know that Britons lived out on the Thames during the Black Plague? Or that the names of our days of the week came from Celtic gods? It is unimaginable the amount of research that must have gone into this work.
Throughout the novel, Rutherford tackles major events in history. The story begins in "Londinos" when the Celts inhabited the land. It continues through history as the name of the city changes from Londinos to Londinium to the name known now: London. The reader is carried through the building of the Tower of London, through the execution of King Charles I, through the Black Plague, through the Industrial Revolution, through such magnificent years onto the present day. .
This trek through ancient history might have become boring if not for the author's excellent imagination and infinite interest in his subject. It is obvious that Rutherford, a native-born Englishman, loves his nation dearly. He includes little-known details that a less passionate writer might have left out. Each chapter contains its own time period and its own characters, although a few chapters overlap. Rutherford purposes to include a plot for every class of people during that time.