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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth (original 1989; edition 2010)

by Ken Follett, John Lee (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,302534100 (4.2)1 / 738
Title:The Pillars of the Earth
Authors:Ken Follett
Other authors:John Lee (Narrator)
Info:Signet 2010-06-29 (2010), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:medieval era, cathedrals, monasteries, stone masons, King Henry II, King Steven, Thomas a Becket, audible, 2012

Work details

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (1989)

12th century (211) 2008 (51) architecture (313) audiobook (63) Britain (41) British (47) cathedrals (488) church (55) ebook (52) England (512) epic (95) fiction (1,532) follett (40) historical (359) historical fiction (1,419) historical novel (184) history (267) Ken Follett (57) Kindle (66) literature (59) medieval (389) Middle Ages (430) novel (201) own (88) read (169) religion (111) Roman (85) romance (57) to-read (297) unread (72)
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English (464)  Spanish (20)  Catalan (14)  French (8)  German (8)  Danish (7)  Dutch (6)  Italian (5)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (534)
Showing 1-5 of 464 (next | show all)
This is a huge historical novel set in eighteenth century England dealing with the power struggle between the clergy and the royalty. The story has many likable narrators like Tom the builder, Phillip the monk, Alaina the Earl's daughter. It is pacy and reads like a thriller. ( )
  mausergem | Jul 20, 2014 |
This book was recommended to me because of it's similarity to the final volume of my trilogy, [b:Rashi's Daughters, Book III: Rachel: A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France|6368197|Rashi's Daughters, Book III Rachel A Novel of Love and the Talmud in Medieval France|Maggie Anton|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1348384870s/6368197.jpg|6555650], both in its medieval time period and a heroine in the woolens business. It was a little long for my taste, but I did enjoy it. I also learned a lot more about building a cathedral than I needed to know. ( )
  Maggie.Anton | Jul 18, 2014 |
Contains at least three of my favorite scenes in all of fiction:

Prior Phillip making his reappearance after hundreds of pages to purchase all of Aliena's cotton.

Phillip shouting, "I see you William Hamleigh!" as the knights come in to murder Thomas Beckett.

Phillip dipping his cloak in the Archbishop's blood and then leading the parade through the town declaring him a saint and a martyr.

One of the greatest fictional characters of all time. One of my favorite books. ( )
  BrendanPMyers | Jun 23, 2014 |
I enjoyed reading this book a lot. It was dramatic and engaging and the "action" scenes were very exciting.

The plot was rewarding and satisfying.

Some of the negative reviews complain about the depiction of the female characters, but I disagree. Aliena and Ellen are very strong women. When Aliena was first introduced, I didn't realize she was going to be a central character, but she became my favorite.

There is a lot of violence and some of it is uncomfortably described, but it serves the story, making the bad guy a really, really bad guy.

A little time has passed since I finished the book, though, and I don't find myself in the same camp with those who really looooved it. I have no interest in reading the sequel.

It's good. It's worth reading. But it hasn't really stuck with me. ( )
  keneumey | Jun 4, 2014 |
I have had this book on my to read list for a while. I finally got it on audiobook. It was a well done story done in a very epic fantasy-like style. However my primary thought while listening to it was "wow this is really long".

The story starts out with Tom the Builder and his family. Tom would like to build cathedrals but he is currently working on a house for William (a noble) and his bride to be Ariana. When Ariana refuses to marry William, William stops building on the house and Tom is out of a job. Tom and his family wander around looking for work. We also read some from Philip’s viewpoint. Philip is a monk who runs a small priory in an isolated area. Philip dreams of becoming the Prior of Kingsbridge and of building a cathedral there.

The book switches between many viewpoints and goes over many decades of time. We mainly hear from Tom’s stepson Jack, Prior Philip, Ariana, and William. It's a well done epic historical fiction, it's done very much in the style of traditional epic fantasy. You follow four or five main perspectives throughout the book. All of the characters tie back into the story of a cathedral that is being built in the English town of Kingsbridge.

The story mainly follows the struggle to build the cathedral, as well as the struggle of the people involved to make a living and survive. A lot of the stories are very compelling. I especially found Ariana’s struggle to survive and build up a life for herself engaging. Ariana is one of those heroines who goes through more suffering than any character should, but you just can’t keep her down. Time after time she climbs out of deep despair and builds her self back up to success. I really enjoyed her portions of the story a lot.

This is definitely an adult's only book. There are some very graphic rape scenes, graphic sex scenes, and graphic scenes of death, torture, and violence. Follett doesn’t shy away from talking about any of the unpleasantness of war and of this time in history.

I enjoy architecture, so I did enjoy a lot of the talk about how the cathedral was built and how changes in building technology altered the structure and plans throughout time. For me these were the most interesting parts of the book.

There is a lot of surrounding drama, some of which was really interesting...and some of which could have been cut out of the story to shorten it. Most of the things that happen do have some final impact on whether or not the cathedral will get built. However, sometimes there are very long interludes where we don’t hear about the cathedral and are off following other characters. This was a very good read, but I couldn't help feeling at multiple points that the story could have been trimmed a bit and made a bit more tight and a bit less wandering.

Things were nicely wrapped up at the end. I liked where most of the characters’ stories were left and didn’t feel like there were any major issues that weren’t resolved.

I think the popularity of this book might be because it is basically an epic fantasy type of read that has gone mainstream, this allows the general populace to peak into a genre that they may not have normally read. Because it is different to them they are enraptured by the story While I enjoyed it, I just didn’t think it was any more spectacular than other epic stories I have read.

Overall I enjoyed the story but it was a bit too long for what it was. I would definitely recommend reading if you enjoy the history of architecture and if you enjoy historical fictions done in a very epic fantasy type of style. Follett does an excellent job of weaving history into an engaging story that is hard to put down. The whole story has a very epic fantasy-like style and feel to it. I probably won’t be reading the companion book to this one, the story was just too long and wandering for me. ( )
  krau0098 | May 11, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 464 (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 (39 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ken Follettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vázquez, RosalíaTranslatormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, Richard E.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grant, Richard E.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lundborg, GunillaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Piggott-Smith, TimNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Röhr-Rouendaal, PetraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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 Domesday Book to Magna Carta
On the night of 25 November 1120 the White Ship set out for Englandand 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. (Preface)
In a broad valley, at the foot of a sloping hillside, beside a clear bubbling stream, Tom was building a house. (Chapter 1)
The baby cried, and the sound tugged at his heartstrings like a well-loved hymn. p.89
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Disambiguation notice
Norwegian translation is split into two parts: Stormenes tid I
sverdet og korset AND Stormenes tid II
Please do not combine an abridged audio with the complete work. Thank you.
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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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A prior, a master builder, and their community try to build a cathedral to protect themselves while Stephen and the Empress Maud fight for the crown of England.

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