Book Reviews, Historical Fiction

Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth is the first book in historical fiction series that intertwines the lives of many characters against the backdrop of the the building of Kingsbridge cathedral.

Goodreads Rating: 4.33

My Rating: 4 Stars

Spoiler-free Summary:

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

My Thoughts:

This book has been on my “to-read” list for years. I am so glad to finally be able to cross it off. Overall, I really enjoyed it. I became quite attached to the characters, and wanted to know what was going to happen to them. Although I have to admit that I did skim over many of the parts that only discussed cathedral building. I enjoyed the book because none of the characters are perfect, they all have flaws. Furthermore, up to his usual standard, Follett creates an intriguing plot that draws you in almost instantly.

I will say however that my favourite part of the book remains the prologue. It had a beautiful, haunting quality, that for some reason wasn’t present in the rest of the book. Nonetheless, it was still an incredible story.

There were a few things that brought it down a couple of pegs in my eyes. First was the fact that there were many small errors in the story, such as mixed-up ages. Now I know it’s not really a big deal, but I kept thinking, “can’t you remember how old your own characters are?” The ending of the book is the other part that I’m not fond of. I won’t go into specifics, because I don’t feel like ruining it for others, but basically, a whole new plot line is tacked on in the last 40 or so pages, and that always irritates me in books. Why not finish what you started, rather than adding more? Also, it connects many of the characters to a huge historical event–different from the one that binds the whole story together. I just find it really hard to believe that this group of characters were all involved in not one–but two of the greatest events of the century.

That being said, I really did enjoy this book.

Happy Reading!


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