Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Review - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Author: Ken Follett
Released: February 2002 (1st published in 1989)
Publisher:  NAL Trade
Pages: 976
Rating: 5/5

An enjoyable historic thriller, well told. A mystifying puzzle involving the execution of an innocent man, the erection of a magnificent cathedral, romance, rivalry, murder, arson, lust, and love. Set in 1135 England.

Tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known... of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame...and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.

The Pillars of the Earth follows the lives of Tom Builder & his family, Lady Aliena, Prior Philip, Jack Jackson, William Hamleigh & many others in Medeival England. You witness Civil War, heartless Earls, corrupt bishops, famine, the building of a cathedral, endurance, renewed hope, & love.

Even though I'd heard how amazing this book was, I always pushed it aside for something else, partly because I wasn't sure I cared to read about the building of a cathedral, but even more so because of its near 1,000 pages (32 discs on audio!). This book was going to be a commitment! But man, am I glad I took the time for this big boy. This book pulled me in dramatically from the very start. Follett's ability to bring the characters to life was incredible! I came to a point in the book (a couple points, really) when I felt like I'd been punched in the gut & actually mourned for the characters. At other times, I laughed out loud & rejoiced with them. It shocked me to feel so involved in their fictional lives!

This book alternated between different narrators. In some books this is frustrating b/c certain characters' stories are never as interesting as others'. I didn't find that to be the case in Pillars.  I would get so involved with one narration, & then it would switch to another's perspective. I would hate seeing some narrations end, but would quickly get caught up in the new one. There was hardly an uninteresting moment throughout the book. The story completely captivated me!

I also appreciated the research Follett did in writing this, not only about that time in history, the culture, land, laws, . . . but also the actual construction of the cathedral. I found it fascinating!

This is one of the best written books I've read, & I consider it a new favorite. I highly recommend it!


"Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically."
~ Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth


Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I have this one listed for one of my 2011 challenges. Everyone says that it's great, and it's just been sitting on my TBR pile for months! Thanks for the review!

Anonymous said...

So glad to hear you gave it 5 stars! I'm going to read it for the 2011 challenge.

Bill said...

It's a book I'm interested in reading, especially now that I've watched the TV mini-series. Great review of the book