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Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth


Just RY
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I love this book!

 

I have just finished reading it - second time around, and it was just as enjoyable as the first time a few years ago.

 

The story is set in 12th century England, and is mainly focused on a builder and his family, friends, and enemies. Tom Builder's ambition is to be the master craftsman in charge of constructing a Cathedral, and basically, the story is centred around the Village of Kingsbridge, where the buiding is taking place. It's got the lot, violence, love, politics and vengence. Oh, and medieval architecture and a hanging or two.

 

Follett has a simple easy going style, and I have found most of his books to be good "page-turners". If you have read his works before, Eye of the Needle etc, and perhaps they weren't to your liking, you may want to give this a whirl, it is most certainly not an "any-old-adventure" type book, and the story is fascinating and compelling.

 

Thumbs up from me!

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I read this, oh must be over ten years ago now. I didn't like it at all, for some reason, but I can't remember why not. It's reasonably historically accurate, I think so it wasn't that. Possibly it was just because the characters didn't grab me, and in the end I didn't really care what happened to them. :rolleyes:

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Another thumbs up from me. I loved this, (and also re-read it recently)

 

I loved the story itself, and the interweaving lives of the different characters over the decades, and I loved all the historical detail too, the insight into the politics of the time, and the way of life and the architectural stuff too.

 

I grew up within sight of Lincoln Cathedral, (the county is so flat, pretty much anywhere is within view of the Cathedral) - and visited it and the castle a lot as a kid, so the chapters set there were, with the all the soldiers and their horses camping out in the cathedral, were especially interesting.

 

Excellent book.

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I read this some time ago for a book group I was in and quite enjoyed it! It isn't a book I would have picked up on my own and is the only one that I have read by this author. Since reading it, it seems that I have found that it is usaually rated quite well as historical fiction. I liked the characters pretty well. The story line was well done and there was a lot to learn about the time period and the master builders craft. It was also very interesting how many lives could be effected by the political upheaval of the time. Of course, I guess that is always so! All in all this was a very enjoyable read, in my opinion.

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  • 1 month later...

I read this last year on the recommendation of a friend and in my continuing quest to try to read all of the "Big Read" list. I'd read a couple of Follett's other books and thought found them quite exciting thrillers but not particularly original or ingenious.

 

I felt much the same way about this. Some of the villains were almost cartoonish, the heroes a little too saintly. It was an easy read but I found a lot of the plot very predictable.

 

Its not a bad book but I don't see how it generates such fervent admiration, maybe I'm missing something.

 

I didn't find the length off-putting, almost the opposite, in fact, its nice to live with a book for a little while. I say this as someone who is in the midst of c. 2,500 pages of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, and the 3,000 pages of Stephen King's "Dark Tower".

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  • 2 years later...

Calling all Pillars of the Earth fans......

 

Just in case you didn't know, the sequel is now published, "World Without End"

 

'World Without End' takes place in the same town, Kingsbridge, and features the descendants of the 'Pillars' characters two centuries later.

 

The cathedral and the priory are again at the centre of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge. But at the heart of the story is the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race: the plague known as the Black Death, which killed something like half the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. The people of the Middle Ages battled this lethal pestilence and survived – and, in doing so, laid the foundations of modern medicine.

 

Just received the book on Friday, only a couple of chapters into it, but I just know I am going to love it.

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  • 11 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Follett keeps this story ticking along a good pace, constantly throwing something new into the construction of the story to make you turn another page.

 

I found it started to lag a bit towards the three quarters mark (approx) when one of the characters heads of to Spain! Though historically accurate in that there was a lot of places of learning in Spain in those days it just seemed to stretch the story a bit much for me.

 

If you like historical saga in an easy to read style that doesn't challenge the old 'grey cells' too much then this is a worth a read. I have the next one 'World Without End' patiently waiting on my TBR pile though not too sure how I feel about devoting so much time once again to another potentially 'surface only' book.

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I have found that, although I read Pillars of the Earth quite a while ago, it has stayed with me. I also enjoyed World Without End, but I agree, they are ideal if you don't want to think too much. They are fine for me as I do most of my reading during the night when I don't sleep well. Cracking stories though.

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  • 6 months later...

I only read this book last year. My husband had read it when it first came out and tried to persuade me to reada it, several friends had recommended it. What can I say ... too many books, too little time.

 

Anyway, I absolutely loved the book, the history was interesting, the characters were drawn so lively, you thought you actually lived with them, not that I really would want to live during that time but I really enjoyed that.

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  • 2 years later...

I enjoyed this book and was impressed by the way in which Ken Follett has painted a clear picture of the appalling chaos, poverty and starvation prevalent in England during the nine years when Stephen and Maud (aka Matilda) were rampaging around the country fighting for the crown.   

The story is woven around the lives of widely differing characters and, whilst I did not much like or empathise with any of them, the trials and triumphs of the builders struggling with the Kingsbridge Cathedral felt personal.

 

 The general breakdown of any justice or law and the perpetual uncertainty and brutality of life is very well shown. Those in authority changed so often that the general populace had no idea who would be their next harsh and demanding masters. I was fascinated by the devious political intrigues between and within both church and state, fuelled by greed, spite and lust for power.  You need to be prepared for many graphic descriptions of extreme and cruel violence as it is certainly typical of the times.

 

Within the story and central to the theme are clear, understandable explanations and descriptions of the actual planning, building and methods used in 12th century England to build a cathedral.  I am familiar with Salisbury Cathedral and had not realised or appreciated the fact that such elegance and magnificent spectacle was achieved with rudimentary methods and simple tools.

Edited by grasshopper
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I thought this book was great, have enjoyed most of the Ken Follett books I have read.  It is quite graphic in places and cruelty seems to be the order of the day in many instances.  It's quite a while since I read it but still remember how it held me.

 

Just as an aside I have a big reproduction of Salisbury Cathedral which I had framed, then gave to our daughter in law as she really admired it and it ended up back at our house to be stored.  When they moved they could take only a certain amount of possessions and the painting is too big to take on a plane with them.  

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Nice to be online with you at the same time , Momac, I just saw your post as I was about to leave! Salisbury Cathedral is so beautiful.  Is your picture the John Constable painting? I  used to have a copy of that but had to leave it behind when I came over here to live.

Yes it is Grasshopper and it's really beautiful.  If I can find a suitable place I will re-hang it - it's fairly large so will have to remove something else to accommodate it (until such time as dil would like to have it back again).

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I read Pillars Of The Earth last year and was hooked start to finish.

 

Reminded me in style of Bryce Courtenay.

 

I also watched the TV series which, without being entirely faithful to the book, was also extremely gripping and very well crafted with some excellent performances including Ian McShane as Waleran Bigod.

 

I found the rather lovely Hayley Atwell as Aliena somewhat captivating.

 

aliena.jpg

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Hayley Atwell was in "Any Human Heart" and "Restless" and has therefore become a favorite in our household.  Although she was good in "Restless," it was hard to see how she matured into Charlotte Rampling.

 

Which reminds me that I think I need to go make a comment in the discussion about "Endeavor" that Momac and I had.  If I can find it.

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