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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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The Pillars of the Earth (original 1989; edition 1990)

by Ken Follett

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24,018698106 (4.17)883
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.
Member:matt_mcbrien
Title:The Pillars of the Earth
Authors:Ken Follett
Info:Signet (1990), Paperback, 982 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
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Work details

Pillars of the Earth by Ken FOLLET (Author) (1989)

Recently added byzster, Kellnicco, Dianekeenoy, Lulu_G, Rennie80, private library, bella_benett, Terryanne
  1. 102
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» See also 883 mentions

English (609)  Spanish (27)  Catalan (15)  French (11)  Italian (8)  Danish (7)  German (7)  Dutch (7)  Hungarian (2)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (696)
Showing 1-5 of 609 (next | show all)
Absolutely entertaining read. I was duly transported back to medieval England ( )
  Islandmum84 | Jul 28, 2021 |
Actual Rating: 3.5 stars
Review: This was a book that I borrowed from my grandmother, and I'm really glad I did. I've heard Ken Follett's name thrown around in the bookish community, and I wasn't sure what the hype was about. When I saw that Follett did more surrounding the suspense/thriller genres, I was a bit wary of this book. (Those genres tend to not be my thing, if you haven't noticed.) However, this book was intricately detailed and exquisitely told. There were quite a few parts that I felt dragged on a bit too much and were too wordy. There were also some scenes that definitely could have been cut out. (And, if I'm honest, some parts made it obvious that a white man wrote this book, which isn't bad, but . . .) A small part of me does want to go back and re-read this, just to see if a second read would give me a different insight into the story. However, I'm going to give it some time before I do that. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.

[b:The Pillars of the Earth|5043|The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)|Ken Follett|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1388193707l/5043._SY75_.jpg|3359698] is not what I expected. As the blurb said, it's a book full of intrigue, action, and romance, but it's also a giant of a book, set in the twelfth century, following the life and times of several families in a Middle Age English town through everything from daily life to the decades long building of a cathedral to a civil war.

It's a brutal book at times, with vicious depictions of violence, war, and rape. Bad things happen to good people--and bad people; and just everyday people. If you're looking for a happy book, this is not it. If you're a younger reader, this is probably not the best to read. But if you want a book every bit as beautiful and intricate and impressive as the cathedrals described therein? Give it a try.

The characters really do make the book. You have a whole host of religious men, from good but powerless, to good but flawed, to power hungry but trying to do the right thing, to downright corrupt. You have earls and kings, little worried with the little people--until they lose everything. You have poor poor, some narrow minded and afraid, some willing to help in what little way you can. And they all feel real. For better or, often, for worse.

I very rarely read books set in the 'real' world, strongly preferring science fiction and fantasy. But every once in a while, I'm reminded that perhaps the real world can be every bit as real and magical as a fantasy.

Aside: It's interesting how polarized the top reviews for this book are. And often loving or hating it for the same reasons. For each their own. Personally, I'd say give it a try. ( )
  jpv0 | Jul 21, 2021 |
It took me over three months to finish this. But it was worth it.

It's a particularly engaging book if you've built software before. “The most expensive part of building is the mistakes” is a passage that most programmers will relate to.

It doesn't get 5/5 because it verges on soap opera terrain around two-thirds in - too many plot twists in short succession. Also, the sex scenes are ridiculous (ex.: "She felt a great spasm of joy shake her, so violent that it was like falling off a horse and hitting the ground." Wtf?). ( )
  marzagao | Jun 1, 2021 |
I haven't read much Historical Fiction, but Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth" is the best of it. There's a lot in common between it and "Game of Thrones", especially in tone and level of violence. However, Pillars managed to somehow weave together half a dozen epic and personal stories into a single volume. The core of the story is about daily life in a Medieval English village, revolving around the construction of a cathedral. The ornamentation and characters built around that story are what illuminates the setting and makes the story really shine. ( )
  wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 609 (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
FOLLET, KenAuthorprimary authorall 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
Rosenthal, JeanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rost, Christelsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vázquez, RosalíaTranslatorsecondary 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
All birds and men are sure to die, But songs last forever.
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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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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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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