Ut of your mouth each time you opened it Nevertheless the bad became uglier became despotic scheming throughout life to get the better of their enemies the goodfolk But in the end good always triumphed over evil those who could repented and were forgiven Those who couldn t were killed off somehow because apparently death is the only way an evil person gets his or her dues And then everyone had a happy ending I hate happy endings when they re so obviously contrived And this work was so elaborately exhaustively thoroughly contrived Maybe it s not too late for me to change my mind and say I hated it grin Historically speaking there was so much left to be desired Granted this novel was written two decades ago and there have been new discoveries about the medieval period since Follett started his research But he got it all wrong anyhow His idea of medieval life was sooff that it hurt my head to continue reading sometimes I had to pause periodically and rant to Jim about what I currently found off putting for example there weren t many literate people at the time at the time this novel was set there was still a distinct divide between England and Wales reading and writing were two separate skill sets and people who knew how to read did not necessarily know how to write and vice versa orality was a prevalent part of storytelling back then and books not so much and yet somehow he conflated much of both manuscript writing was either orally dictated or copied tediously by the monks his concept of a scriptorium was incomplete defective and there has been so much written about this that it saddened me he used modern translations of medieval poeticalverse works and couldn t explain even alliterative verse form effectively I even wonder if he knew what it was his understanding of the languages of the period Old English Middle English Latin Norman French Old French Middle French etc and what was spoken by the aristocrats vs the peasants vs the growing middle classes disgusts me he showed a lack of understanding of medieval law medieval rights the social classes gender roles even the tales and legends of the period in both England and France priests were uite low on the totem pole in terms of the religious hierarchy and were uite disparaged yet somehow that didn t uite come across in this novelI could go on and on but I won t And the historical part of the novel I ust found lacking There are enough histories and chronicles contemporaneously written of the time that he did not have to deviate much from history There is so much written about the period between the death of Henry I through the civil wars between the Empress Matilda and King Stephen to the time that Henry II ascended the throne including the martyrdom of Thomas a Beckett that I don t uite understand how he couldn t have mined the chronicles for better material I understand that this is why it s called historical fiction and that there will always be some element of fiction interspersed with historical fact But the fictional aspects usually have to do with surrounding characters and situations that bolster the history The fiction is not necessarily to the history itself Many times when writing historical fiction the author has to beware the pitfalls of creating a revisionist retelling interspersing his or her own ideals or beliefs of what should have been to what was If this novel had been marketed as a revisionary narrative it would have been okay But it wasn t I m ust glad that the historical aspect of the novel ust served as the background and not the real story Because then I probably would ve stopped readingThe premise was a good one and held a lot of promise It could ve been a great historical epic had it been handled by a assured writer By someone who was of a visionary someone who had the patience to do exhaustive research or who knew how to craft richly developed characters It needed an author who understood the epic genre who knew how to mold the epic who knew how to keep the narrative going seemlessly binding time with narration and the human condition without resorting to stereotypes and grating drama And most importantly it needed someone who understood when the story had been told that while there will always be other stories to tell that each book has its own natural end and that these stories may not belong in this bookKen Follett may be a bestselling author of suspense novels and even historical fiction such as Pillars of the Earth and World without End but he is no writer of epics Compared to writers of historical fiction such as Edward Rutherford James Michener Bernard Cornwell or Margaret George Ken Follett has a long way to go This book was popular As in a mini phenomenon Seriously Am I being punked Tell the truth no one else read the book It was all an elaborate mediapop culture scheme to trick me into reading this book Please lie to me about this I m not sure I can go on living if "I Have To Believe That "have to believe that is what my fellow man is reading these daysMy utter disdain for the book comes from many a sourceA It s 900 pages Mind you I ll read 900 pages even 1500 pages if it s amazing But it has to be a crackerjack of a book This was not B Here s where this book and I really parted ways Tom Builder s beloved wife Agnes dies in childbirth on the side of the road Only hours later Tom s rolling in the leaves with an Attractive Forest Wench In forest wench in sex scene so ridiculous I could practically hear the bow chicka wow wow music in the background Poor Agnes body isn t even cold yet and Tom s getting it on with a woman he had a 15 minute conversation with earlier in the bookC It s hard to believe this is medieval England what with all the modern sensibilities and modern vernacular C It could have been whittled down by about 500 pages if the scenes of people eating had been omittedE The women oh the women Witches or whores or victims of tag team rape Here s the basic rundown of the plot Building a church building a church building a church Oh crap a plot complication We might not be able to build the church Crafty Phillip overcomes the complication Insert licentious sex scene Building a church building a church building a church Oh crap a plot complication We might not be able to build the church Crafty Phillip overcomes the complication Now insert gratuitous sex sceneLather Rinse Repeat For 900 pagesCross posted at This Insignificant Cinder I devour books That is my euphemism for being so OCD that I can t put it down and live my life until I finish it For shorter books that s generally not a problem but for the 974 page Pillars of the Earthwell let s Seductive Surrender just say we ran out of food my children clung to my legs asking for food and the floors did not get vacuumed for a good five days while I whittled away at this bookCLIFF HANGER This book is not a cliff hanger at the end of every chapter kind of book which makes it easier to read it in multiple sittings However Follett does such a masterfulob of character development that I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next whether the end of the chapter contained a cliffhanger ending or notCHARACTER DEV T Each character is so beautifully defined and fleshed out that they become almost real I felt that I knew them personally that I could accurately predict how they would react in different situations None of them were 100% good or bad Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, just like in real life Some priests were holy others evil some were rich people with big hearts others with small minds and evil intentions some poor farmers wereudgmental wnarrow minded attitudes others opened their doors to strangersPLOTPACE Foreshadowing was a very powerful convention that Follett skillfully weaved in and out of
EVERY CHAPTER IT GAVE SUBTLE HINTS chapter It gave subtle hints never so overt as to suggest that the reader may be an imbecile Backstories meander and come to closure at such a nice pace that it always feels like something is happening and things are being resolved for better or for worseTHEMES My favorite theme was that natural conseuences followed the actions of the characters I m still a bit out of sorts after reading the deus ex machina riddled Breaking Dawn where all the natural conseuences of three books worth of actions were completely erased ugh There was a natural ebb and flow of triumph and misfortunes in Pillars of the Earth Good things happened to bad people and bad things happened to good people ust like in real life Follett does not try to save his characters from themselves or from each other and I enjoyed that very muchSTRONG WOMEN I absolutely adored the strong women in this book What a oy to read about Aliena carving out her own future after her world had been turned upside down Life knocked her down plenty but each time she got up made a plan and triumphed eventually Ellen and Agnes in her own way were also strong women OVERALL IMPRESSION As strange as it sounds with all of the despair and misery that took place the overarching take home for me was HOPE In the face of overwhelming adversity these characters triumphed The road was hard and the ourney was long but they CHOSE hope They CHOSE faith And in the end that was all that matteredPillars of the Earth will be on my favorite books list for a very long time. Ist 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 lifeThe 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 For the Movie tie in edition with the same ISBN go to this Alternate Cover Edition.
Review ´ E-book, or Kindle E-pub Ö Ken FollettI know I m going to be in the minority here but this is truly one of the worst books I have ever read I came so close to throwing the book across the room on several occasions and ended up skipping through many pages ust to get to the final and not too surprising finish The characters were flat and lifeless and seemed to have been transplanted from the 20th century into medieval England The book was rife with unnecessary profanity that in no way enhanced the storyline and obscene gratuitous sex I mean how many times did William have to rape someone to prove that he was a really really bad guy I noticed that at least one other reviewer commented that this book was reuired reading in his child s school which if you are a parent I would recommend you take a good look at this book and perhaps take issue with your school district As an adult I was shocked at the language and violence in this book and find it totally inappropriate for a child andor young adult I also noticed comments about the historical accuracy and research that must have been involved in writing this book If that is so it must only be in regards to the building of the cathedral and the civil war between Stephen and Maud As for the rest I must disagree I have read many well written and researched books of medieval times thank you Sharon Kay Penman and Elizabeth Chadwick for such awesome reads and I was infuriated on numerous discrepancies in this book Examples and anyone may correct me if I m mistaken as I am not a history major Aliena is freuently described as having long curling loose flowing hair Women in those days wore their hair braided and covered it being uite scandalous for any man other than her husband or lover to see it loose After the attack on the castle and the imprisonment of their father Aliena and Richard are allowed to live alone in the castle with only the steward I doubt that the king would punish the children so for the sins of their fathers and most likely would have been made wards of the king until they reached their majority This was most desirable as the king could then skim the proceeds off the estates and funnel them to the crown s use Sometimes a king would give ward ship to another party as a reward for service etc Young boys of the noble class were typically sent to another noble household to be raised and educated first as suires and then trained in that household as a knight What on earth was a teenaged Richard doing living at home Much was made of William s warhorse These were formidable beasts that were not easily handled by strangers Yet Aliena and Richard were able to not only saddle the warhorse but to get right on and ride it I don t think so The English nobility of that period were Norman French and did not speak the language of the peasant class So how did Aliena manage to not only communicate with them but could set up a successful business in that atmosphere I could go on with examples if I had remembered to take notes but there were many similar instances to this throughout the book All I can say is that if you want to read a very well written and researched book on this period please see Sharon Kay Penman s When Christ and His Saints Slept and Time and Chance Ballantine Reader s Circle JMO This book was so completely fantastic that I almost forgot the outside world existed when I was reading it I ve never be so emotionally invested in a story as I was with this It s a rare book that does this to me I think it s because it follows the characters through such a large proportion of their lives resulting in a large amount of intimacy and investment with them Indeed this novel spans a massive period of forty years and has 1000 pages this is no light reading it is deep emotive and completely brilliant The intense story So much happens within this novel It s impossible to lay it down in a brief summary these characters uite literally go through hell Such is the life of commoners in the period They are good folk and are ust trying to erect a church for the betterment of their town However the corruptness of the local nobility and the church hierarchy itself almost prevents them from achieving their aim Prior Phillip and Jack the Builder are forced to seek out the aid from their monarch but because of the turmoil of the civil war this monarch keeps changing They have a choice of two royal courts to appeal to Both are convinced they have the legitimate claim to England s throne Picking the wrong side would lead to the ultimate ruination of a folk that simply want to live in peace and celebrate God s glory on earth Well this is the mere surface level of the plot This book is so much beyond it It is a story of betrayal and seduction it is a story of love and hardship it is a story of human nature and the all encompassing morals that imposes It is ust fantastic in every sense The characters are real and their hardships "ARE EVEN REALER
THESE ARE TRULY SOME OF THEARE TRULY SOME OF THE realer These are truly some of the human characters I ve ever read about these people could have existedThis is no less true for the villains of the book William Hamleigh in particular is characterised superbly For all his ruthless aggression and sense of entitlement he s still a coward at heart He d never admit it to anyone but the reader knows of what he is the reader can see his blackening yellow heart He is a product of society and his parent s ruthless ambition He doesn t deserve sympathy because of this but the reason why he is the man he is can be seen by looking at his origins His parents ruined him he has no restraint he has nobody to tell him no So to his mind he can get away with anything He even has a Bishop who will gladly absolve all his sins He s actions have no conseuences he can murder and rape without feeling the conseuences This is an incredibly dangerous mind set and one that almost destroys the protagonists of the book He s a nasty man The strength of the church Follet also weighs the potential power of the church I love the way he contrasts godly Prior Phillip with the twisted Bishop Waleran It shows us two routes the church could take it shows us two possibilities for God s monument on Earth Prior Phillip is everything the church should be he is kind and forgiving he is benevolent and The Deepest Sin just he is a true believer of Christ s teachings He is in the church for the simple reason that he is a man of faith Contrastingly Bishop Waleran is a tyrannical despot He represents evryhting the church shouldn t be he is the personification of its potential evil The Bishop is vain greedy and ambitious In this his will is his own he is completely self serving He abuses his power to meet his own ends and self aggrandisement So he is slightly corrupt He s only in the church for its political power and rewards In this he is not a true believer of his own faith By contrasting these two characters Follet demonstrates how the church has the power to do great good and also great evil This for me is uite a strong message to take from the book because it shows us the dividing nature of man of life of good and evil it shows us that all things can be benevolent or terrible It also hints at redemption If something is this bad it can be made into something good once it has the potential to be as it should be in the right hands I do love this story It shows that if people can come together to achieve something greater than themselves then humanity is not lost despite the backdrop of war corruptness and general chaos Jack begins the novel as a mute boy with little human socialisation At the end of the novel he is a respected builder and farther of the town He is the anchor of Follet s story telling Everything centres on Jack and his family history His narrative uestions the restraints the common man lived under in the period it highlights the injustice the legal system exerted in the time He cannot marry his love without a written divorce from his horrible step brother who d sooner see him live in misery than have the happiness he couldn t achieve The church doctrine almost prevents him from being a farther to his child But he perseveres and overcomes the restrictions of the church his awful step brother and the corruptness of society itself Jack s story is one of human perseverance and fortitude it is a story of a man who somehow managed to survive a system that was completely against him Nevertheless the book gave Jack a feeling he had never had before that the past was like a story in which one thing led to another and the world was not a boundless mystery but a finite thing that could be comprehended This is a phenomenal story and though that I ve got hundreds of books I want to read in my lifetime and little enough time to read them in this is a book I will definitely be reading again in the future it s a story that I simply have to revisit regardless of its vast length This is a book Iust have to read again He was mesmerized by the challenge of making soft round shapes out of hard rock The stone had a will of its own and if he tried to make it do something it did not want to do it would fight him and his chisel would slip or dig in too deeply spoiling the shapes But once he had got to know the lump of rock in front of him he could transform it There ar. Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split second suspense but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever knownEverything 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 creat. E so many memorable characters populating this epic novel that I would be hard pressed to even say who is the main character of this novel but my favorite character is undisputed His name is Jack and later as he discovers the name of his father he begins calling himself Jack Jackson His mother Ellen fal 72 MILLION STARSDid I ust read one of the most amazing books I have ever read Yes yes I didI cannot say enough about this book the story the writing the characters etc etc etc Everything is perfect If someone had said to me Here is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral 1000 years ago in England I probably would have fallen asleep before the end of their sentence But do not udge a book by its description it is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral but Follett does an amazing ob of crafting a historical fiction story around it that will keep you engaged from page one until the very endWith 1000 pages there has to be filler right There is not Every sentence every word all of it adds to the story And events on page 25 may have ramifications on the events of page 825 How the author kept the storyline together intertwined and fully applicable throughout is amazing I picture him referencing a very complicated flowchart covering his entire wall while writing this book Sounds confusing it is not Despite the intricacies it was very easy to followDo you love to hate evil characters and feel passionate emotions for the ones you love READ THIS I don t think I have ever wanted to reach into a book and strangle a character than I did with this book Then I found myself audibly cheering and groaning as the relationships of my favorite characters developed succeeded and sometimes failed I was emotionally spent loving and hating these characters and it might be the most I have ever been emotionally invested in characters in a long time if everI cannot say that this book will be for everyone but it is worth giving it a try Especially if you like any of the following Historical Fiction British Fiction Stories about church vs government Knights monks kings and other medieval dramatis personae Character studiesThis comes with a warning though I know I have some book friends who do not like violent depictions of sex If that is a problem for you either go into this story being aware that you will be uncomfortable or steer away from it completely The most expensive part of building is the mistakes Look it s difficult to explain exactly why I liked this book Seriously if you take a look at the blurb note the 973 pages and the fact it s a very long story about building a cathedral in Medieval England you might think I ve been smoking something But for me and I m assuming for a large number of other readers it was so damn compellingI m going to get the crap out of the way first if you are sensitive to scenes of rape DO NOT READ THIS BOOK Medieval England is a shitfest of misogyny violence accusations of witchcraft and yes rape One of the scenes is especially disturbing and graphic I actually had to take a break from the book after reading it I should say that it is not portrayed as a positive or even a normal thing Scenes of rape and brutal violence in the book largely serve to make us despise William Hamleigh with a ferocious passion It turns out that a deep seething hatred can really keep you turning pages waiting for that bastard to get what he rightly deserves Anyway yes the main plot is about the building of the fictional Kingsbridge cathedral But really it is about all the characters that come into contact with Kingsbridge its cathedral and Prior Philip their loves desires ambitions conflicts and heartbreaks I was pulled in from the very dramatic prologue when a young woman arrives at a hanging and curses the three men who guaranteed her beloved s executionThere are love stories in here as well as tales of ruthless ambition and betrayal Follett has created some incredible and unforgettable characters Tom Builder Philip Ellen Jack Aliena and Waleran Bigod And of course that snivelling stain on humanity that is William HamleighI haven t read any of Follett s other work but it is not surprising to hear he was a thriller writer before beginning The Pillars of the Earth He has carried that with him into this story Just when everything seems to be going right some catastrophe happens to throw a spanner in the works Just when it looks like Philip is going to succeed some shit happens But it was an effective way to keep me looking over my shoulderIt s a strange book because it s a bloody heart pounding page turner wrapped up in a 900 page serious looking cathedral building package Strange and yet I find myself wanting I guess I ll have to read World Without EndBlog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube This was incredible After reading this for weeks I ll need a bit to sort out my thoughts on this one Review to come Also how great is the feeling when you re the first
person to check out a brand new replacement copy via the library This is seriously one of the worstto check out a brand new replacement copy via the library This is seriously one of the worst I ve ever read The only reason I finished the book is because I cannot put a book down once I startThe writing is terrible The plotting may be dramatic but I had almost zero interest in any of the characters they seem to exist merely for events to happen to them like actors in a disaster movie Beyond that there seemed to be three characters in the book Bad guy good guy and good victimized yet able to overcome girlWhat got me most was Ken Follett seemed so proud of
historical research that mentions every 40 pages took out hisher eating knife Really they didn t have forks how is constantly reminding the audience of this fact important to the story There were other oft repeated throughout the novel as well This seemed like an attempt to fool the audience into thinking they re immersed in the middle ages when the rest of the book could have taken place anywhere in time One fact does not a novel make unless it s a really clever fact The bad characters keeping the amazing building from completion felt like a fountainhead rip off but that might ust be meOn the positive side the book is an extremely easy read I might have enjoyed it were I laying in the sun half drunk on something sweet and rum filled Violent sex too if that sort of thing titillates youThank you Wait Wait for warning me of Oprah s evil plan if I can save one person from reading this book my work will done I did not hate this book hate would be too strong a word and I can t hate it because I applaud the fact that Ken Follett attempted to write an epic novel But I did not like it I didn t like it from the start his writing style hit me like a brick but Jim thoroughly enjoyed the book that I kept trying to convince myself that I ought to give it a chance hoping it would get better When I was about 500 pages in he saw how miserable I was and asked why I didn t ust stop reading it but at that point I was invested in it I had spent all "that time getting that far that I needed to finish it and I couldn t "time getting that far that I needed to finish it and I couldn t to come to the end I kept counting down Only 450 pages left only 300 to go last 200 pagesyay I have 50 pages left Those fifty pages were the toughest to get through By the time I was at the end I thought it was a wasted effort both on his part and mine It s so much easier to explicate on what I did not like because there were so many things I loathed the writing style he vacillated between pages and pages of highly complex architectural discourses to third grade level simple sentences grouped into short paragraphs Sometimes it was bearable Other times I wanted to pull my hair out There were times when I felt the only time he came alive as an author was when he was discussing architecture but these parts were so didactic in nature that it couldn t hold my interest for long periods of time I did not like the author s narrative style He had to tie everything together causality was so prevalent throughout the text that I wondered how he didn t work in how the killing of a fly affected events 60 years later Every single storyline was wrapped up too neatly for my liking in some cases Everyone was tied to someone else it was like playing Six Degrees every single character had to have a denouement every little plot twist had to be explained closure had to be achieved no matter how preposterous the circumstances over time and space The characterization was poor In fact it was appalling how two dimensional these characters were Good people were good Bad people were loathsome As time went on the good were always suffering one thing or another they were put upon they were harrassed they were constantly challenged and put to the test like Job something Follett actually used as a sermon The badfolk became oppressive over time they were not only detestable but they had absolutely no redeeming ualities And to go with a typical medieval stereotype the good were always excessively beautiful honorable intelligent geniuses or savants even and if they weren t rich they would be at the end I half expected Havelok the Dane and his refrigerator mouth to pop up somewhere proving once and for all that in the medieval period to be good was to have the purest light shining Ed 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 art. .His Historical Research That