The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth

Book - 1989
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Mar 17, 2021

Follett takes his skills as a thriller writer into a completely new milieu, with a generational tale of lust and power, violence, love, and revenge, with faith always providing the background - families rise and fall, and keep ancient enmities alive over the span of time it takes to build a cathedral in the new High Gothic style. We get to see the violence of everyday life in the twelfth century, in parallel to the particular violence and spite of court life, balanced by the aspiration to reach for the heavens in a years-long journey of faith.

Mar 09, 2021

No. 3 in my lifetime top 10. Engrossing and educational.

Feb 04, 2021

Yes on this

Jan 09, 2021

Will read the sequel and much more. Just ordered Becket from Netflix. Very glad not to be alive in the 12th century. Ken Follett is a very entertaining story teller. He is not the least stuffy in interviews. Can't imagine where he finds the time to write so much.
On to "World Without End".

Aug 07, 2020

A long story. Too much specific detail of how the churches were built for me. Too much explicit sex. I'm sad that people don't understand that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. These people tried to earn their salvation their whole lives. And they mixed magic with their faith, which is not scriptural. How sad for them of that day and the author who apparently is not a believer.

May 30, 2020

Repeated treachery interspersed with bad luck and misery. If the bad actors don't win in a small skirmish then they always come back later stronger.

I read for enjoyment and escapism, but there are to many downers in this book.

May 19, 2020

What a great story teller Ken Follett is. "The Pillars of the Earth" had been described as the story of how a cathedral was built in a fictional town in the 12th century. The theme didn't appeal to me at all and the only reason I started reading it was, because I had read the sequel and enjoyed it. Boy was I wrong. While the main story is about the cathedral the book is rife with colorful characters. It starts with a hanging which doesn't feature till more than halfway through and ends with a hanging too and what happens in between is fast-paced action full of passion and thrills. A must read.

May 05, 2020

Great, complex story with multiple fascinating characters and so well written that you never get lost. The detail was so rich I felt like I was living in that time and place. A wonderful escape from all the upheaval of our current lives.

Jan 10, 2020

I tried, and I like the writing, but I couldn't finish it.

Oct 29, 2019

This book is crazy long and does read a bit slowly at times, but it's also really good and entirely worth reading. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed reading even the descriptions of how the old cathedrals were built.

Aug 27, 2019

Yes, this is 1000 pages about some peasants building a stone cathedral in rural England during the twelfth century. Yes, the writing style is overly simplistic at times. Yet, somehow the plot and the characters are so compelling that it's very difficult to put this book down. Loosely based on historical events, this novel has it all: romance, intrigue, and betrayal. The two villains are extremely well developed and you'll adore hating them.

Jul 27, 2019

**Spoiler Alert**
Hearing great things about this book, I thought I'd give it a try. After reading 80 pages, I gave up. First, I didn't like Follett's simplistic writing style which was jarring. He didn't completely transform me to 12th century England. Second, the story moved very slowly. He needed a good editor. Thirdly, those 80 pages contained very little about building, just teasers. Did the author forget the subject of his novel? And lastly, after reading the scene in which Tom has sex with the first woman who comes along within 24 hours after the half frozen, starving man digs a grave for his beloved wife and newly born child and buries them in the middle of winter, I was done. Very unrealistic and ridiculous. Before that moment, I cared about Tom's plight and then lost total interest in him and no longer cared whatever happened to him. I didn't look forward to reading the book every night and started dreading opening the book. I am very disappointed as I'm a huge fan of medieval architecture, especially cathedrals, and have visited these structures in Europe. I hear "The Heaven Tree" Trilogy is better so I will instead give that one a try.

May 04, 2019

p. 64

Apr 17, 2019

GREAT book!

Jan 29, 2019

A finely written and engaging story! It is one of those books from the very first page until the end, simply and wonderously draws you in, written in such a way, the whole story is just the way it is supposed to be, a natural flow and ebb. Few authors are able to write this way but Mr. Follett seems to have done a keen job of it.

The characters, and there are many, are well developed, not overly done. Their interaction and support of one another is superb. You feel for them, you fear with them, you cry with them, the way you should when you're are fully engrossed in the story, because you begin to live the story.

The story; full of intrigue, conniving, political gain, mystery, plots, betrayals, envy, lust, pride, arrogance, and much much more. Again, a finely woven story, real, believable. A story you live in while you are reading it.

When you have well developed characters and a great story written out so well, you have a wonderful, adventurous story you just want to keep reading, just to know what is going to happen on the next page. I haven't read a book like this since "Lonesome Dove", another wonderfully written story.

Jan 21, 2019

For those who like thousand page books, this one is a great story for those who enjoy historical fiction, medieval times, and European history. Other than a few places where the writer gets a little too long winded on some rather vulgar scenes, the story itself is quite captivating. The character development is excellent and it was certainly a book that was hard to put down.

WestSlope_TheaH Oct 03, 2018

I was completely engrossed in this novel. I found the characters very compelling and well-developed, with distinctive voices for the four narrators of the story: Tom Builder (a stonemason), Philip (a monk), Aliena (an earl’s daughter), and Jack (Tom’s clever stepson). The story takes place over decades, from Part 1, chronicling 1135-1136, to Part 6, chronicling 1170-1174. Don’t be alarmed by the length—this book was so difficult to put down that I breezed right through it. As a work of historical fiction, I definitely see some crossover appeal for fans of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, and, like Games of Thrones, it too was adapted for TV as a Starz miniseries in 2010. Certainly the history of the medieval era has similar amounts of treachery and violence!* Reading this book made me want to take a trip to Europe to tour grand old cathedrals. This novel really made me consider the building of a cathedral as the legacy of a lifetime. One final reason to pick it up: Ken Follett told the New York Times in 2014 that of more than twenty novels that he’s written, it was his favorite.

*I will caution that if you are sensitive to violence against women or sexual assault in your fiction, you may want to pass.

BostonPL_EileenS Aug 06, 2018

Follett is a must for historical fiction fans. This particular title is centered on the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge in 12th century England and is the first in a trilogy. The Pillars of the Earth has been nominated as one of America's best-loved novels by PBS's The Great American Read.

Feb 22, 2018

Dynasty in all it's Joan-Collinsesque glory in 1100, with some architecture thrown in. Just fun.

Apr 24, 2017

Pillars of the Earth is fine, but The Heaven Tree Trilogy by Edith Pargeter is better, though it is older and harder to find. How is it better? Writing is more finely crafted, the people are more believable, their actions are less annoyingly gratuitous and you will learn a lot about building with stone. If you liked P of the E and want more, look for the Heaven Tree, The Green Branch and The Scarlet Seed and enjoy!

Mar 26, 2017

I watched the DVD first and saw many comments that it differed from the book, so I read the book. I don't even remember how the DVD ended and will watch it again. The book is very good, but really huge (973 pages!) I thought it could have been edited down, but it was an interesting and compelling read. Set during the medieval period of historical drama between the era of church and state (royalty and monastic goals and ambitions). Some complain about the ongoing stories of lust and devotion (around page 600 you welcome them!) but I thought the interaction of real people versus the staid and moral church attitude provided a good contrast with the historical setting. Some members of the church were not so moral and forgiving while the local folk had to deal with issues of survival and existence while under the influence of bad lords and scheming bishops. Based around several people who had been inspired to create a beautiful cathedral. A good book, very interesting, but be prepared to set aside a chunk of time.

Mar 16, 2017

Thought the quality of the writing was disappointing. The story was interesting enough to keep you reading but could have been told with far fewer pages. It was a "C" read for me.

ArapahoeChristineS Oct 03, 2016

A thoroughly engrossing saga. It was violent at times, but I imagine that was common during that time period. Don't let the hefty size of the book scare you; before long you won't want to put it down.

Dec 10, 2015

1000 pages but well developed, fast paced and engrossing.

Oct 27, 2015

I had high expectations of this book but it fell very short. It turns out to be, not so much about cathedral building, as it is an excuse for literary pornography and vulgarity.
The numerous rape scenes and sadistic behaviour of William are the core of this book, not cathedral building. Follett pretends he did research for this book but for one thing, historically, women of that period always covered their hair with a wimple or a bonnet and except in private their hair was always braided or up it some fashion. This book is lurid and disturbing to read. I know modern writers like to expound on violence and rape but frankly
I prefer "brutally raped" to several pages of the description of a rape. I compare this book to "Kristin Lavrandatter" and the contrast leaves Ken Follett in the dust compared to Sigrid Undset. She too has a very long story, over 1000 pages, rape and violence, set in the 15th century Norway, but it is written in a way that brings it to the reader without making one feel like a voyeur of pornography.
I hated this book

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