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The pillars of the earth by Ken Follett

The pillars of the earth (original 1989; edition 1989)

by Ken Follett, Tim Pigott-Smith

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
21,557657105 (4.18)1 / 845
Title:The pillars of the earth
Authors:Ken Follett
Other authors:Tim Pigott-Smith
Info:New York : Simon & Schuster, 1989.
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:historical fiction, historical fiction series

Work details

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (1989)

  1. 92
    Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones (crgalvin, OTVTT2010)
    OTVTT2010: Molemmat mieleenpainuvia lukukokemuksia, laadukasta viihdettä.
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    The Physician by Noah Gordon (ecureuil)
  3. 51
    The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer (Taphophile13)
  4. 20
    The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner (nessreader)
    nessreader: CTHT is another medieval-set, multiple generation, religous institution novel, about a minor convent in England, sprawling over multiple generations and giving a sense of time passing, lightly touching on the lives of the nuns, but with the institution as the main character.… (more)
  5. 32
    The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (bugaboo4)
  6. 32
    Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd (mcenroeucsb, al.vick)
  7. 10
    The Stones of the Abbey by Fernand Pouillon (Stbalbach)
    Stbalbach: Novel about a 12thC medieval master builder in France
  8. 00
    Kingmaker: Winter Pilgrims by Toby Clements (Stepn)
    Stepn: As good, if not better.
  9. 00
    Das Haupt der Welt: Historischer Roman by Rebecca Gablé (MissBrangwen)
  10. 11
    The Lost Angel: A Novel by Javier Sierra (albavirtual)
  11. 00
    When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman (Anonymous user)
  12. 00
    World Without End by Ken Follett (delma28)
  13. 11
    Hild by Nicola Griffith (kiwiflowa)
  14. 02
    The Jester by James Patterson (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: The Jester and The Pillars of Earth are intricately plotted, suspenseful tales set in the Middle Ages. These books focus on the treachery and drama of the period.

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English (573)  Spanish (23)  Catalan (15)  French (11)  Danish (7)  Dutch (7)  German (7)  Italian (7)  Hungarian (2)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (654)
Showing 1-5 of 573 (next | show all)
El gran maestro de la narrativa de acción y suspense nos transporta a la Edad Media, a un fascinante mundo de reyes, damas, caballeros, pugnas feudales, castillos y ciudades amuralladas. El amor y la muerte se entrecruzan vibrantemente en este magistral tapiz cuyo centro es la construcción de una catedral gótica. La historia se inicia con el ahorcamiento público de un inocente y finaliza con la humillación de un rey. Los pilares de la Tierra es la obra maestra de Ken Follett y constituye una excepcional evocación de una época de violentas pasiones. ( )
  Haijavivi | Jun 1, 2019 |
Typical Ken Follett saga spanning ages. Interesting storyline and character development is well fleshed out. Good for anyone who would like to have an insight into old structural buildings. ( )
  jaeger84 | May 26, 2019 |
My god this book was a beastie! I am so glad I finished it though. It took me two months and change to read this thing.

First off do not read this book if you have trauma regarding rape. do read this book if you are in a good place and want to see a rapist get what he deserves. the world building was phenomenal. I do have to give it that. it felt so raw and realistic at times i didn't read it for days at a time. I was too busy digesting what i'd already read.

Follet weaves with great skill multiple major story arcs. there are no side characters in this book. Everyone is an mc. this is the first book I have ever read where I truly feel that no character died as a jumping off point for new narrative/to further plot.

That being said there are large chunks of this book written from the POV of the rapist and that was very hard to get through. it was important though in order to appropriately understand that he more than deserves what he gets in the end. this book is part of a larger series, though it read like a standalone. I feel no deep urge to torture myself with the next one. ( )
  thebacklistbook | Apr 24, 2019 |
It took me a long time to finish, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The second half definitely was a faster read than the first. Let's get the bad out of the way first: this book has lots of sex (and rape) scenes. For me, I found it pretty easy to just skip over them (no major plot points lost there), but the graphic detail honestly felt unnecessary. I didn't pick up a romance novel.

Back to the good parts: One thing I found interesting was that Follett doesn't believe in God, yet he wrote an epic about cathedrals and the church. Yet in spite of that, Follett created believable, three-dimensional characters who struggled with their beliefs and wrestled with how their beliefs would influence their choices and decisions (much like all people of faith experience). In this book at least, Follett was (for the most part) respectful of the church, even though it's clear he doesn't subscribe to faith himself. (I've heard that's not the case in World Without End, which is part of why I haven't been able to commit to reading another 1000-pager.)

As another reviewer pointed out, sometimes the plot felt a bit methodical: Things are going well, HUGE PROBLEM, solution is discovered at the last second, repeat. I finally got to the point where I knew if things were going well, it was only a matter of time until things would go crappy again.

The only other thing I would have liked to see was a diagram of a cathedral in the book, because I ended up looking one up online so I could understand the descriptions of the construction. There might be one in the original book, but I read the mass market paperback version.

Here's the thing I love about Follett: He's able to capture life in a different time and place, so you feel like you're immersed in medieval England. I loved being sucked into a different, historically-based world. That fact alone made it worth skipping over all the weird sex and the non-religious perspective on religion. It's a really fascinating book, and I think you'll enjoy it if you love history and love incredible world-building. ( )
  melissa_faith | Mar 16, 2019 |
Intelligent, gripping - I could not put it down and wondered what took me long to discover this book. Along with being fantastically entertained, I learned so much about this period of time and the architecture of the cathedrals. ( )
  tbgibbons | Mar 7, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 573 (next | show all)
Great literature? Of course not. To begin with, the plot relies far too heavily on coincidence, and the characters tend to be chiseled into predictability. The writing depends heavily on dialogue - and although it's well-done dialogue, it's the stuff of escapism, not of the ages. But so what? It's a long, rich and rewarding story, full of glory and violence told in the tradition of medieval troubadors. Few among us could turn away from a tale that begins: ''The small boys came early to the hanging.''
added by Shortride | editSt. Louis Post-Dispatch, Harry Levins (pay site) (Sep 3, 1989)
A novel of majesty and power.
added by Shortride | editChicago Sun-Times, Algis Budrys (pay site) (Aug 20, 1989)

» Add other authors (32 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken Follettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vázquez, RosalíaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Conrad, Gabrielesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, Richard E.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kiel, AchimIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lohmeyer, TillÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundborg, GunillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piggott-Smith, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Przygodda, ThomasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Röhr-Rouendaal, PetraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rost, Christelsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
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Le nuit du 25 novembre 1120, le Vaisseau blanc appareilla à destination de l'Angleterre et sombra corps et biens au large de Barfleur: il n'y eut qu'un survivant... Le vaisseau représentait le dernier cri en matière de transport maritime et il était muni des plus récents perfectionnements connus de la construction navale d'alors... Si l'on a beaucoup parlé de ce naufrage, c'est en raison du grand nombre de personnalités qui se trouvaient à bord; outre le fils du roi, héritier présomptif du trône, il y avait deux bâtards de sang royal, plusieurs comtes et barons et presque toute la maison du roi... Cela eut pour conséquence historique de laisser Henry sans héritier... Cela provoqua la guerre de succession et la période d'anarchie qui suivit la mort d'Henry.
A. L. Poole
From Doomsday Book to Magna Carta
On the night of 25 November 1120 the White Ship set out for England and foundered off Barfleur with all hands save one. ... The vessel was the latest thing in marine transport, fitted with all the devices known to the shipbuilder of the time. ... The notoriety of this wreck is due to the very large number of distinguished persons on board; beside the king's son and heir, there were two royal bastards, several earls and barons, and most of the royal household ... its historical significance is that it left Henry without an obvious heir ... its ultimate result was the disputed succession and the period of anarchy which followed Henry's death.
-A. L. Poole,
From Doomsday Book to Magna Carta
To Marie-Claire,
the apple of my eye
First words
The small boys came early to the hanging.
Chapter 1
In a broad valley, at the foot of a sloping hillside, beside a clear bubbling stream, Tom was building a house.
The baby cried, and the sound tugged at his heartstrings like a well-loved hymn. p.89
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
Norwegian translation is split into two parts: Stormenes tid I
sverdet og korset AND Stormenes tid II katedralen
Please do not combine an abridged audio with the complete work. Thank you.
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Book description
From Publishers Weekly
Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through 40 years of social and political upheaval as internal church politics affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. "Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale," judged PW.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Adventure saga of 12th century England, from a stone mason whose dream is to build a glorious cathedral to a man of God in a web of dangerous political intrigue.

(summary from another edition)

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