book review: The Pillars of the Earth

I am happy to announce that I just finished The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I feel relieved to be finished with it because the book has completely monopolized my free time (and sleep time) for the past two weeks.

Pillars takes place in 12th century England when the Catholic Church shared power with the tumultuous English Crown.  It was also a time of great cathedral architectural innovations. The story follows several characters living in Kingsbridge during the construction of a cathedral and presents the age-old struggle between good and evil.

Overall, I really enjoyed the novel; it was a total page turner.  Follett knows how to write a complex plot and successfully intertwine multiple characters.  I also thought it was interesting how he allowed us to see the characters grow and develop over a 40 year period; it gave them more depth.

I do have a few criticisms.

  • At some points, it feels like the story is a string of plot twists, misfortunes, evil characters, hardships, rapes and disappointments.
  • The architectural descriptions of the cathedrals are very detailed – and I found myself grazing over them.
  • Follett is an extremist with his characters. They are either good or bad; you either love them or hate them. And there isn’t any in between. I prefer more complex characters – they are more relatable.
  • I wasn’t impressed with the ending; it didn’t feel believable to me.

I know I said more negative things than positive, but I truly did enjoy Pillars. I would recommend this novel. Talk about a page turner!

Book Stats

Title: The Pillars of the Earth

Author: Ken Follett

Notable: Apparently Ken Follett is known for writing thrillers – this was his first historical fiction.

Pages: 973

Reading Level: Easy – it will go fast

Do I feel like I need to re-read it? No.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely


1 Response to “book review: The Pillars of the Earth”

  1. 1 big mama
    September 12, 2008 at 8:20 am

    Good review and I feel the same way. It was definitely a good read – but something was missing that makes a good story a great story.

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