The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth

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 known.Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what...

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Title:The Pillars of the Earth
Author:Ken Follett
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Edition Language:English

The Pillars of the Earth Reviews

  • DeLaina

    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 Earth...well, let's 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 book.

    CLIFF HANGER: This book is not a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter kind of book, which makes it easier t

    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 Earth...well, let's 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 book.

    CLIFF 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 masterful job 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 not.

    CHARACTER 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, 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 were judgmental, w/narrow-minded attitudes, others opened their doors to strangers.

    PLOT/PACE: Foreshadowing was a very powerful convention that Follett skillfully weaved in and out of every chapter. It gave subtle hints, but 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 worse.

    THEMES: My favorite theme was that natural consequences followed the actions of the characters. (I'm still a bit out of sorts after reading the deus ex machina riddled

    , where all the natural consequences 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, just like in real life. Follett does not try to save his characters from themselves, or from each other, and I enjoyed that very much.

    STRONG WOMEN: I absolutely adored the strong women in this book! What a joy 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 journey was long, but they CHOSE hope. They CHOSE faith. And in the end, that was all that mattered.

    Pillars of the Earth will be on my favorite books list for a very long time.

  • Bookdragon Sean

    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, emotiv

    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.

    So much happens within this novel. It’s impossible to lay it down in a brief summary; these characters, quite literally, go through hell. Such is the life of commoners in the period. They are good folk, and are just 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 just fantastic in every sense. The characters are real, and their hardships are even realer. These are truly some of the most human characters I‘ve ever read about; these people could have existed.

    This 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 consequences; he can murder and rape without feeling the consequences. This is an incredibly dangerous mind-set, and one that almost destroys the protagonists of the book. He's a nasty man.

    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 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 quite 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 more; 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 questions 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.

    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 I just have to read again.

  • Matthew

    7.2 MILLION STARS!

    Did I just read one of the most amazing books I have ever read? Yes, yes I did!

    I 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 judge a book by its description – it is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral,

    7.2 MILLION STARS!

    Did I just read one of the most amazing books I have ever read? Yes, yes I did!

    I 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 judge a book by its description – it is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral, but Follett does an amazing job of crafting a historical fiction story around it that will keep you engaged from page one until the very end.

    With 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 follow.

    Do 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 more 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 ever).

    I 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 studies

    This 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.

  • James

    I read this out of order as once I read "World Without End," I was so captivated that I had to go back to read this one. It was good, but I much preferred "World Without End."

    Follett creates such a remarkable world full of characters you love and you hate. And to think it takes place over 500 years ago... so many historical adventures, realities... I love the relationship people had with the church -- not so much from a religious perspective, but in how it defined every action and thought in the

    I read this out of order as once I read "World Without End," I was so captivated that I had to go back to read this one. It was good, but I much preferred "World Without End."

    Follett creates such a remarkable world full of characters you love and you hate. And to think it takes place over 500 years ago... so many historical adventures, realities... I love the relationship people had with the church -- not so much from a religious perspective, but in how it defined every action and thought in their day. It was a powerful time period.

    And when I think about what I would have done if I lived in that time period... not sure I would have survived very long.

    The detail woven into these stories is exemplary. That's what makes his novels feel so magical and inviting.

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  • Emily May

    Look, it's difficult to explain exactly why I liked this book. Seriously, if you take a look at the blurb, note the

    , 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

    .

    I'm going to get the crap out of the way first - if you are sensitive to scenes of rape, DO NO

    Look, it's difficult to explain exactly why I liked this book. Seriously, if you take a look at the blurb, note the

    , 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

    .

    I'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 execution.

    There 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 Hamleigh.

    I haven't read any of Follett's other work, but it is not surprising to hear he was a thriller writer before beginning

    . 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 more shit happens. But it was an effective way to keep me looking over my shoulder.

    It'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 more. I guess I'll have to read

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  • Jeffrey Keeten

    There are 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

    There are 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, falls in love with a man named Tom Builder. Jack finds himself nearly starving to death along with Tom’s kids, Alfred and Martha, as they trudge across England in search of someone who needs something built. Tom can build anything, but his dream, his most fervent desire, is to build a cathedral.

    Jack is bright, unnaturally intelligent in fact, and it isn’t Alfred who turns out to be best suited to achieve Tom’s dreams (although Alfred is really good at beating the crap out of Jack on a daily basis). It is Jack who travels the world and discovers that cathedrals can soar high into the clouds beyond anything that Tom would have ever believed possible.

    The backdrop for all these trials and tribulations that you will experience while reading this novel is the turbulent 12th century England. Henry Ist dies and leaves his daughter Empress Maude on the throne. This is extremely controversial because the nobles do not want a queen. If truth be known, they want a king, but a weak king they can control. Since Maude was born without a penis, this leaves the castle door open for her cousin Stephen, whom fortune has favored with a penis, to snatch the crown from her head and place it on his own. The nobles certainly do not want to work for a woman, but I think the issue that is even bigger is that Maude is very sure of herself, even one might say imperial. As her husband, Geoffrey of Anjou, would quickly find out, she is a handful.

    Civil war breaks out, and the people who suffer the most, of course, are the peasants, who just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The destabilization of the civil structure of law also allows men like William of Hamleigh to do whatever they want to do and take whatever they want to take. He is an opportunist who switches sides several times in the dispute between Maude and Stephen, depending upon which of the cousins has the wind behind them at the time. William is but a brutish thug, a tool of his demented, greedy mother and then later a weapon of evil for an archbishop named Waleran Bigod (great name, eh?), who wishes to obtain more and more power at the cost of everyone else.

    William and Jack become mortal enemies as Jack tries to build a cathedral at Kingsbridge and William tries to destroy the economy of Kingsbridge to bring more wealth to his neighboring town of Shiring. William also has an unnatural lust for Aliena that is one part desire and one part pain. See, unless a woman is crying, bleeding, and feeling anguish, William’s wee willie won’t work. Here is a typical list of topics with which William and his henchmen like to entertain themselves:

    Jack is Aliena, and Aliena is Jack. They are soulmates, and though many disastrous things happen to them to try and keep them apart, I kept hoping that love will conquer all. I may like Jack the best, but I admire Aliena the most. She recovers from a horrendous attack at the hands of William of Hamleigh to become the largest wool merchant in the area. This is remarkable for anyone, but for a woman, a woman who has never had to work a day in her life, and a penniless one at that, to raise herself up to such heights is remarkable. She survives every disaster, even the ones she makes for herself, and finds a way to achieve some semblance of security for herself despite the overwhelming odds.

    There is one more character I want to discuss, and that is Prior Philip of Gwynedd. The man who shared the same dream as Tom Builder to have a cathedral rise up from the ashes of the old church at Kingsbridge.

    There are times when I want to give Philip a good shake, but at no time do I question the sincerity of his beliefs. Even when those intent on evil ends are conspiring, even cheating, to obtain an advantage over Philip, he always stays on the high road. He makes enemies in lofty places, including the aforementioned Archbishop Waleran Bigod, who at every turn tries his level best to destroy Philip and his dreams of a cathedral. The church politics are so fascinating and create an extra level of intrigue in the novel that at times overshadow the quest for the throne.

    There are a 1000 pages of juicy historical fiction awaiting you if you choose to accept this quest. This is not

    , so do not be as afraid of that page count as reason would dictate, as the pages will fly by. I really needed some escapism into a different time and place, and this book served that purpose perfectly. As I was reading it, I kept thinking that this would have been a great choice for that long plane flight to Scotland last year. There are some graphic rape scenes, but they are purposeful to the plot and certainly are a part of a destabilized England at that time. Unfortunately, the very topics that William Hamleigh and his thugs find so amusing are a part of human history going back to the days when we were battering each other with sticks and stones. I would have to use another 1000 words to discuss all the other worthwhile aspects of this book, but I will leave the rest to you to discover on your own.

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  • amelia

    This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The only reason I finished the book is because I cannot put a book down once I start.

    The 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 girl.

    What got me most was: Ken Foll

    This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The only reason I finished the book is because I cannot put a book down once I start.

    The 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 girl.

    What got me most was: Ken Follett seemed so proud of his historical research that he mentions every 40 pages, "_____ took out his/her 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 just be me.

    On the positive (?) side the book is an extremely easy read, I might have enjoyed it more were I laying in the sun half drunk on something sweet and rum-filled. Violent sex too if that sort of thing titillates you.

    Thank 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.

  • Francine

    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

    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 just stop reading it, but at t

    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

    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 just 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 wait to come to the end. I kept counting down: "Only 450 pages left; only 300 to go; last 200 pages...yay, 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

    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

    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 -

    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 more oppressive over time; they were not only detestable, but they had absolutely no redeeming qualities. 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 out of your mouth each time you opened it). Nevertheless, the bad became uglier, became more 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

    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 so...off, 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 poetical/verse works and couldn't explain even alliterative verse form effectively - I even wonder if he

    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 quite low on the totem pole, in terms of the religious hierarchy, and were quite disparaged yet somehow, that didn't quite come across in this novel...I could go on and on, but I won't).

    And the historical part of the novel I just 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 quite understand how he couldn't have mined the chronicles for better material. I understand that this is why it's called historical

    , 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

    . If this novel had been marketed as a revisionary narrative, it would have been okay. But it wasn't. I'm just glad that the historical aspect of the novel just served as the background and not the real story. Because then, I probably would've stopped reading.

    The 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 more assured writer. By someone who was more 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

    belong in this book.

    Ken 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.

  • Amanda

    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 media/pop 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 this is what my fellow man is reading these days.

    My utter disdain for the book comes from many a source:

    A) It's 900 pages. Mind you, I'll read 900 pages, even 1,500 pages, if it's amazing. But it has to be a

    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 media/pop 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 this is what my fellow man is reading these days.

    My utter disdain for the book comes from many a source:

    A) It's 900 pages. Mind you, I'll read 900 pages, even 1,500 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 a 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 book.

    C) 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 omitted.

    E) 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 scene.

    Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For 900 pages.

    Cross posted at

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