The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Genres: Historical Fiction
Narrator: John Lee
Length: 41 hours
Publication Date: 30th January 2017
Synopsis/Blurb (Taken from Goodreads):
“Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape.
Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.
The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.”
My Thoughts & Review
Pillars of the earth, the first book in the Kingsbridge series, is set in the middle of the 12th century and tells the story of different characters who in some way are all connected to Kingsbridge and its priory one way or another. The book is split into 6 parts and each covers a period of time ranging from 1135 to 1174. Each part leads up to the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral.
The very first time I picked this book up was back in 2010 and I remember reading the whole thing in a couple of weeks and loving it. Back then I couldn’t really tell people why I loved it so much, because every time I told them it was a book about the building of a cathedral, they thought I was just mad to have fallen in love with it, because to them it didn’t sound very interesting and to be honest when I first picked it up all those years ago I was a little sceptical about it too. But Ken Follett has done an amazing job in showing how the cathedral is built. Through the descriptive and detailed descriptions, you can’t but help visualise every detail from the carving of stones to the last stone laid.
What I liked about this book was not just the descriptions but the actual characters. Ken Follett has created a vast variety of characters, from villains to heroes. Each character being individuals and unique in their own way, with their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Having re-read this book for the second time I have to say I loved it just as much as the first time. Also, being that much older I think I appreciated it slightly more, especially when it came to understanding the characters and some of their decision making and actions.
I absolutely love this book and is one that I would happily re-read again. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a nice chunky book based on historical fiction. If the size of this book scares you I highly recommend the audiobook, especially the one narrated by John Lee. However, he does read the book quite slow so you may need to speed it up a bit. I normally listen to my books at x2 speed but did have to up this one up to x2.5.
Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Leave a comment below and let’s have a chat.