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The Pillars of the Earth [Mass Market Paperback]

Ken Follett
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (634 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 4 2007
View our Ken Follett feature page.

Learn more about The Pillars of the Earth miniseries on Starz.

A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, this historical epic—a twelfth-century tale of the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral—stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity

Frequently Bought Together

The Pillars of the Earth + World Without End + Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy
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Product 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.

From Library Journal

A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction. Literary Guild dual main selection.
- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IN A BROAD VALLEY, at the foot of a sloping hillside, beside a clear bubbling stream, Tom was building a house. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A VERY ENJOYABLE BOOK. Nov. 24 2007
PILLARS OF THE EARTH is one of those books one can really enjoy and will leave a memorable aftertaste long after the last page is turned.

The story is set in the middle ages (12th century) and starts in a stormy night full of death and new life, desperation and hope. It then follows the story of a stone-mason (Tom Builder) and his family in his efforts to continue building a cathedral (Kingsbridge) and, thus, carve out a living for his family.
The story, of course, also branches out into a number of interweaving stories, from the villainous lord William Hamleigh and pious Prior Phillip, to beautiful Aliena and Tom Builder's children and their own ambitions and schemes.

KEN FOLLETT is a well above average English writer (I would recommend also trying his NIGHT OVER WATER). If you have came across interviews of his declaring himself an atheist, do not let this discourage you from buying this book: he approaches a religious theme (the building of a cathedral by a monastery Prior) with respect and fairness.

Although not a masterpiece (and hardly a classic), PILLARS OF THE EARTH does occupy No.33 on the BBC's Big Read (a 2003 survey with the goal of finding England's Best-loved Book), just below Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude and above...Charles Dickens' David Copperfield (yeah, I know...) - which goes to show how much people are enjoying the easy narrative and interesting plot.
The book runs for almost 1,000 pages, so make sure to have some free time ahead before getting started.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A big, fat, rich tour of the 12th century Dec 5 2007
This is a wonderful book-a historical novel fan's dream come true. I have read this book twice and loved it even more the second time. If you only read one book this year, make it this one. Even though it is long and daunting in size, you will find it to be hard to put down. While reading this novel, I resented the intrusion of my job, my household chores and other mundane activies like eating and sleeping. While I believe it would make a great movie, I would be afraid that it would be spoiled by the need to cut so much. Thank you, Mr. Follett! It's a treasure.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars surprizing! Nov. 15 2007
This book has been given to me by a friend. Not beeing a frequent book reader, the beginning of the book with the characters descriptions and all I was not too motivated. But getting into the story has got me using spare time to read more and more. Very credible story happening around the 12th century. Ken Follett's strenght, in my opinion, is describing the state of mind of his characters at any given time. I could imagine easily beeing there. Very good!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Follett's Best Dec 1 2007
If you like historical fiction, this is a book you can get lost in. Don't let the thickness of it intimidate you because it doesn't seem that long while you're reading it. You'll be on the 900th page before you know it.

Being familiar with and a fan of other books by Ken Follett, I originally bought and read this book several years ago. I was absolutely knocked out and captivated by the story and read it in two settings.

Part of what makes a story great to me is when I truly get wrapped up in its characters and begin to associate and have feelings for them, good or bad. In a sense, they come to life while I'm reading the story. This was especially true for "The Pillars of the Earth," having been totally entranced by the end of the first chapter. I especially come to care for Tom and his family, and later, for Jack and his mother. In fact, when one of the major characters dies midway through the story (I won't say who and spoil part of the story), I was shocked and had to lay the book down for several minutes.

As another note on this and Mr. Follett's other books, even though I am male (if that should make any difference), I respect his use of a strong female character playing a major role in his stories.

If you like Philosophy I recommend the book Understanding: Train of Thought.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This was just tragic April 29 2008
By L. K.
A friend recommended this, and then an aunt did, so I picked it up. What a mistake! I wanted to like this based on the great reviews from people I know, but this book just couldn't live up to it. Many of the points that drove me crazy have been mentioned, but I'll sum it up again.
-ALL of the characters are completely one-dimensional. The "good" ones are completely virtuous, and are always at the mercy of the "bad" ones. The "bad" characters are completely cliched- horrible in every facet of their being and their physical appearance is supposed to mirror that (Waleran is skinny and "spidery" like a Disney villain.)
-There is completely unnecessary detail about mundane events that do not advance the plot or give you any insight into anyone's motivations. There is a scene that is about 3 pages long solely about a fight between a bear and some greyhounds that I ended up skipping. And the "detail" about cathedral building is tiresome and insanely boring.
-Every chapter the "suspense" builds by either the "good" or the "bad" guys being in charge. But by the next chapter, someone else will be ahead and the chapter after that the other side will have won.
-And I GET IT: Aliena has a mass of unruly dark curls.

This book, for all of it's magnificent reviews, is such a disappointment. The writing is really shallow and the characters never get to be anything but superficially good or evil. I really couldn't recommend that anyone read this unless you want to waste your time.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 24 days ago by Yves Rathe
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book ever
I read a book a week on average, Follett's Pillars as well as the two sequels are my all timefavourites, and not likely to ever be dislodged from first place
Published 3 months ago by Daniel T Keough
4.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
I read this in five days the first time. Tried to revisit it a second time and found much of the dialogue repetitive and tiresome. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rosalynde Woodcock
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite book of all time
Yes, it seems long at first glance, but it is so engaging and fascinating you don't even notice. Fabulous account of life in the Middle Ages .
Published 8 months ago by skippercares
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Story :)
Pillars of the Earth is a fantastic story of individual perseverance. It raises very interesting questions around morality and what constitutes the concepts of right and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by J Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Lost in another time
A great story ! Filled with interesting characters and the deceptions they practice to gain the power they want. A good mix of all the emotions. I could hardly put the book down.
Published 15 months ago by momosue
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much detail
There are needless lengthy descriptions in many parts which tend to make you lose your concentration and put down the tablet
Published 15 months ago by samir dagher
5.0 out of 5 stars A work of rare beauty
Rarely do you fall on a book that’s got everything working for it: a great story line, riveting characters, extraordinary writing style and thorough historical details. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Ladybug
5.0 out of 5 stars Bought many of these
Over the years I've bought many copies of this book to give as gifts. It's one of my favourite books ever and highly recommend reading it.
Published 17 months ago by Melynda
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story teller
Excellent read highly recommed it. Follett is a terrific author that vividly brings the story to life. Looking forward to reading other novels by the same chap.
Published 17 months ago by Geoff Plummer
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