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The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge) Paperback – Illustrated, October 2, 2007
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"Follett is a master." —The Washington Post
"Wonderful . . . will hold you, fascinate you, surround you." —Chicago Sun-Times
"A towering tale . . . a ripping read. . . . There's murder, arson, treachery, torture, love, and lust." —The New York Daily News
"Ken Follett takes a giant step." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Enormous and brilliant . . . a great epic tale . . . crammed with characters unbelievably alive across the great gulf of centuries . . . touches all human emotion—love and hate, loyalty and treachery, hope and despair. See for yourself. This is truly a novel to get lost in." —Cosmopolitan
"With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner . . . a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere, and memorable characterization. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow, the narrative is a seesaw of tension, suspense, impeccable pacing . . . action, intrigue, violence, passion, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge, and love. A love that entertains, instructs, and satisfies on a grand scale." —Publishers Weekly
"An extraordinary epic buttressed by suspense . . . a mystifying puzzle involving the execution of an innocent man . . . the erection of a magnificent cathedral . . . romance, rivalry, and spectacle. A monumental masterpiece . . . a towering triumph from a major talent." —Booklist
About the Author
In 1989 The Pillars of the Earth was published, and has since become the author’s most successful novel. It reached number one on bestseller lists around the world and was an Oprah’s Book Club pick.
Its sequels, World Without End and A Column of Fire, proved equally popular, and the Kingsbridge series has sold 38 million copies worldwide.
Follett lives in Hertfordshire, England, with his wife Barbara. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren, and three Labradors.
- Publisher : Penguin Books; Illustrated edition (October 2, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 1008 pages
- ISBN-10 : 045122213X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451222138
- Item Weight : 2.65 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.1 x 1.64 x 8.94 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
"A timely novel highlighting the worth and delicate nature of Nature itself." -Delia Owens Learn more
Top reviews from the United States
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I tried reading it, the author is preoccupied with rape and sex. I won't be finishing this read.
The Welsh author, Ken Follett, has written a tome about the building of a cathedral in the imaginary village of Kingsbridge, England, in the 1100s. He stipulates that he is not a believer and that his ambivalence about writing this historical novel lasted for years. However, at some point in his life, he became enamoured of and obsessed with cathedrals, and visited many of them prior to putting words to paper. The novel occurs within the context of ecclesiastical versus imperial power, as well as during the Civil War between King Stephen and the empress Maud. This setting is similar to the situation during which the Brother Cadfael novels occur.
As mentioned in the title and the comment above, the overarching them of the book is the decades-long building of a cathedral at the Kingsbridge Priory, amidst much corruption, political manipulation, slaughter, and evil aimed at Prior Philip's Benedictine monastery. However, Follett has created a novel that possesses stories within stories within the primary theme. In it, we meet some of the most loving, if sometimes eccentric, people, along with destructive, power-seeking, and envious ecclesiastical and political figures. Follett does not spare anyone her or his weaknesses and faults, including the most significant protagonists. Nor does he cease to decry the sheer brutality of Earl William and Bishop Waleran Bigod, the primate of Kingsbridge.
The author creates a cast of many protagonists as well as antagonists who are central to creating destructive challenges for the Prior to build the cathedral. Church corruption is made clear, as is the use of political people and men-at-arms to effect the plans of Bigod to destroy Philip. Follett has clearly done considerable research, and blends historical persons with fictional characters very well.
At times, I thought the author could begin to tie up the narrative but he elected to create yet one catastrophe after another. In the beginning of the novel, the writing could be described as simplistic, but it evened off later into a respectable and engrossing narrative. If one is interested in Medieval history, the role of Church and State during this era, and a plethora of characters, plots, and subplots, this book is recommended. One gets a sense of monastic living, the lives of serfs and peasants, and the overall life of clerics in this work. In addition, the age-old themes of good and evil underlie all the dynamics in the story.
But, wanting to look cool I decided to give it a try. Honestly, it didn't sound like anything I'd be interested in... so I didn't have any expectations.
And then I started it, and whoa man. I got sucked in.
There's so much drama in this book. Right when you think one thing is resolved, something else pops up. Oh, and I cried. I don't even know how many times. I also lost a lot of sleep.
Despite the amount of pages, I flew through this book.
This takes place over an amount of decades with lots of characters. But they're all written so well, even the ones that only show up for a couple pages, that they are all distinctive. And there are so many intertwined stories, but there wasn't any times where I was confused about what was going on.
After finishing it, I brought it to my dad and told him he has to read it. I very rarely make recommendations to my father. (This is the second book I've told him to read in the last five years.)
Major thing to point out - the woman in this story are ah-may-zing. Yes, it's historical and things were different back then. But they were all written as strong, independent, and Ellen was totally the most sane character in the entire book. My only complaint is that there wasn't enough focus on her.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes drama and has any interest on 12th century England.
Top reviews from other countries
This book read like a film/movie in my head. It was absolutely nothing like I had expected and was all absorbing from start to finish. An easy to read epic classic.
An astounding five star read from start to finish.
It covers the early medieval period during unsettled time of King Stephen and Maud. Evil lords and ladies, petty jealousies. A hero Monk/ prior. An insight into the building of churches and cathedrals and the lives of the people of the time. If you think life is tough now this is an eye opener as to how cheap lives were considered then, how disposable the poor and uninfluential were. I have now read it twice, about 10 years apart and I had forgotten how much there was to it.Some of it I grimaced at, the rape scenes and the bear baiting.I was delighted when I found there was a 2nd book, World without End and I have discovered that since 2017 there is a 3rd. Its in my shopping basket now!
When you can follow a hero that you can get behind like in this book, you become more attached to the story. You can put yourself into their shoes and allow your imagination to come to life. I'm very much looking forward to reading this novel again on my kindle.
Its wordy and verbose, and the narrative is actually predictable and cliched.
It reminded me of a pantomime sometimes, with the "baddies" constantly against "the goodies", one could almost imagine booing at certain passages.
The sex scenes are poorly written to be honest, and quite cringe-worthy at times. The first scene with Tom and Ellen on page 72 is quite ridiculous.
Others have cited several inaccuracies, and the speech is very modern - did they really say "awesome" for example?
On the plus side, the book is historically accurate and mostly holds ones attention. He has obviously done his research.
Parts of the book are good to read, and hold the attention, but I wouldn't call it "A Classic Masterpiece"!
Ken Follett must have done an immense amount of research in order to write such brilliant books.