Posted by: istop4books | July 12, 2009

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett


Rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book that has received a lot of hype, and generally I don’t do hyped up books, but it’s summer and I was in need of a good, long summer read – and this book just fit that niche. It started out quite slowly, I just about gave up on it between 100-200 pages in, but persevered and I’m glad I did. At 976 pages, the author works hard to hold the reader’s attention – and it was no small feat. I do think a good editor could have easily whacked off 200 pages, but all in all I was satisfied with the length.

Without going into too much detail, the story opens in the early 1100’s in England, with Tom the builder getting laid off a project, making a couple of wrong decisions and winding up starving with his family in tow, trying to survive the harsh winter with no home, foraging for food and a wife about ready to give birth. The story follows Tom’s life as a builder of churches, and the children who followed him. We learn about monks, and priors, rectories, sheriffs, Earls, Bishops and Archbishops, Kings and deposed royals. We read about how the church and leaders manipulated people for their own self-agrandizement. We also get a detailed lesson in the history of church building – fascinating stuff, but it would have benefited enormously from a few sketches thrown in for clarity. There are knights in shining armour, rapes and murders and damsels in distress. Fighting and praying, murders and absolutions, all hand in hand.

This is the actual cathedral on which Follett based his descriptions

This is the actual cathedral on which Follett based his descriptions

Interior of the final cathedral

Interior of the final cathedral

A very satisfying summer read, but it would also make a great winter read, in front of a fire with a nice glass of wine…. highly recommended.

View all my reviews.

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