Set in the middle of the 12th century in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, England, Pillars of the Earth follows the story of those surrounding the building of a cathedral. The characters include the mason, Tom Builder and his mixed family, Prior Phillip and his dream to build a cathedral in Kingsbridge with the help of Tom, and Aliena and her brother Richard as they acclimate to a new life without the power of their previous positions as the children of the Earl of Shiring. Since it is such a long book, the story cannot easily be summarized, but the characters are the main focus.
If you’re looking for a quick recommendation, yes, I would definitely recommend this book!
This book is not for the faint of heart clocking in at just over 800 pages. If you’re ready for a challenge, not just because of the length of the book, but the number of characters and storylines to follow, then I’d recommend this book. It may be easier to listen to it as an audiobook on a long car trip. Don’t let the premise fool you, there are plenty of interesting events and characters that make the building of a cathedral engaging.
That’s probably my favorite part about this book, the author can take a less-than-interesting topic, such as constructing a cathedral, and make it one of the best books I’ve ever read. The characters are intriguing, the plot is captivating, and the writing is fantastic. I wouldn’t say the writing is beautiful, but it’s functional. It tells the story without getting in the way of it or distracting from the events of the story.
By the end of the book, you will feel attached to the characters. Because you watch as the characters grow from children to adults, from adults to old age. The main reason we stick with these characters for so long is to finish the cathedral.
Because Follett spends so much time with each character, you get to know each one personally. Which makes it easier to understand their motives and view them more as people rather than characters in a book or historical characters inspired by those who lived in the 12th century. Which might as well be an alien planet compared to how we live now.
Despite the number of characters and amount of time spent with them, the story mostly focuses on the love story between Aliena and Jack Builder. This book was later adapted into an eight-part mini-series on Starz in 2010. I don’t remember much of it, but I believe it was good. If you haven’t read the book, it may be more enjoyable, because I don’t think there’s any way to even come close to covering a lot of the story in just eight episodes.
It was also adapted into a video game. A choose your own story kind of game, driven by the choices you make during conversation and actions. I enjoyed the game a lot more than the show. Because I wasn’t counting on the game to copy the book exactly. Since the story was up to me. I just had the same characters to work with.
Overall, I would have a hard time recommending this to a busy mom. It is a daunting book, but if you’re willing to challenge yourself and really take the time with this book, then go for it. I can’t tell you how amazing it is to finish this book! This may not be the book for new moms, but those who have children a little older and independent. Because it’ll take time and a lot of concentration, but it’s worth it in the end.
Five out of five stars
If you enjoyed my review of The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, you might also like Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks. Check out my review!
If you’re interested in purchasing The Pillars of the Earth, here are some quick links to buy the book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And, if you’re interested to see what others think, here’s the link to the book on Goodreads.