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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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The Pillars of the Earth (original 1989; edition 2002)

by Ken Follett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
19,31059583 (4.19)1 / 800
Member:Griperang
Title:The Pillars of the Earth
Authors:Ken Follett
Info:NAL Trade (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 976 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (1989)

  1. 92
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English (522)  Spanish (21)  Catalan (14)  French (10)  German (8)  Danish (7)  Dutch (6)  Italian (5)  Swedish (1)  Hungarian (1)  All (595)
Showing 1-5 of 522 (next | show all)
It's amazing the range of strong opinions found here on this book. "The writing is abominable;" "the writing is crystalline." "The characters are wooden puppets;" "the characters are living breathing people." Even "the historical research is great;" "the historical research is faulty and clumsily presented."

Well, put me on the five-star side, folks. I loved this book!

Yes, it's long. But it is full of action and interesting plot lines, and there are long passages of tremendous, page-devouring suspense. To me, a book that is this long yet has this much sustained narrative drive is miraculous.

Yes, the characters are types: the godly monk, the nefarious bishop, the dispossessed princess, the solid family man, the boy genius artist, the wild witch of the forest. Yet Follett has a knack for turning prototypes into real-seeming characters by introducing complexity. The godly monk is also a shrewd schemer (who consistently questions whether he is doing God's will or his own); the orphaned princess is also a driven, feisty merchant (yet at times her iron will fails and she falls into despondency); the boy genius is torn between his devotion to his mental life and art and his need for the women in his life.

Yes, the writing is simple and straightforward. To me this is a great strength. Follett not only lays out everything his characters are seeing and feeling right on the surface, but, when necessary, he blatantly states the point he wants the reader to get. I think this prose style is a key to Follett's popularity. It keeps the focus relentlessly on the story (and not on the writing). It also allows him to communicate great intensity and complexity of emotion in a way that readers at all levels of sophistication can appreciate. This is a clear, formidable prose style that aspiring writers who yearn for popularity would do well to emulate.

Finally, some have objected to the 'false climax' that occurs 90 pages before the end of the book. The story then picks up some 15 years later and introduces a whole new plot line. I too found this a bit off-putting, until the very end when Follett makes clear how the events in this section tie together the entire story and knit it to the actual historical changes that took place during those years. At this point, you see how the whole narrative exemplifies the century in which the story occurs. At this point, in other words, the book rises to the level of great historical fiction.

So, come on, people! Don't hate this book for being popular. Enjoy it as the masterpiece of popular fiction that it is! ( )
  JackMassa | Nov 23, 2016 |
After all the hype about Follett's book I decided to read it. Boy, what disappointment! As bad and historically inaccurate as the series made based upon it. ( )
  MrsRK | Nov 21, 2016 |
Historical fiction you can cut your detail and connection loving teeth on. This was the first Follett I've read and it made me come back for more, and more, and more. I love interlocking character perspectives so it was a bit like literary crack. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
A tome of a book, it sucks you in and occupies you so much, I missed reading the book when I was done with it. ( )
  siok | Aug 27, 2016 |
I would NEVER read a book abt medevil times, or cathedral building or monks the Englsih churches and monks. Oprah reviewed this and it did not matter to me, BUT she read emails from her viewers that read this and that is why I tried this book.I would recommend anyone reading it, to get thru the first 40 pages, that is what was suggested to me.
This story had me in its grip from page 10! I missed a half day of work to read this!I read every minute I was home and at lunchtime break!
This is a compelling story of love/hate,wealthy vs poor,the class system of England and the Church. Most of all is is a story of survival,resiliency and love and respect.
I do recommend this book to anyone that would normally not read this type of subject matter.It is well written!It is a story that will stay with me for sometime to come. ( )
  LauGal | Aug 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 522 (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
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
To Marie-Claire,
the apple of my eye
First words
Preface
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.
Quotations
The baby cried, and the sound tugged at his heartstrings like a well-loved hymn. p.89
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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.

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