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The Pillars of the Earth (The Pillars of the Earth #1)

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  469,962 Ratings  ·  25,552 Reviews
Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.
Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But wh
Mass Market Paperback, 983 pages
Published July 9th 1990 by Penguin Books (first published October 1st 1989)
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Miriam Majome He is working on the third and final in the series set to be released in 2017 as I heard/read somewhere and I'm sure we all look forward to it. I'm…moreHe is working on the third and final in the series set to be released in 2017 as I heard/read somewhere and I'm sure we all look forward to it. I'm ashamed to say that I have not read the highly recommended World Without End although I definitely will. It's just that I read Pillars this year and some strong and trusted recommendations advised against ploughing into it so soon after Pillars so I'm giving it about a year and I agree because of the sheer power and gripping nature of Pillars which I'm still reveling in several months later so two at once will be too much. (less)
Sylvain Yes, I'm currently reading it & it's bothering me too!

Did you notice how Follett managed to include a "Previously on Pillars of the Earth" bit…more
Yes, I'm currently reading it & it's bothering me too!

Did you notice how Follett managed to include a "Previously on Pillars of the Earth" bit every once in a while?(less)

Community Reviews

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Jul 25, 2011 DeLaina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
I devour books. That is my euphemism for being so OCD that I can't put it down and live my life until I finish it. For shorter books, that's generally not a problem, but for the 974 page Pillars of the Earth...well, let's just say we ran out of food, my children clung to my legs asking for food, and the floors did not get vacuumed for a good five days while I whittled away at this book.

CLIFF HANGER: This book is not a cliff-hanger at the end of every chapter kind of book, which makes it easier t
Dec 04, 2013 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I did not hate this book (hate would be too strong a word, and I can't hate it because I applaud the fact that Ken Follett attempted to write an epic novel). But I did not like it. I didn't like it from the start; his writing style hit me like a brick, but Jim thoroughly enjoyed the book that I kept trying to convince myself that I ought to give it a chance, hoping it would get better. When I was about 500 pages in, he saw how miserable I was and asked why I didn't just stop reading it, but at t ...more
Nov 18, 2007 amelia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one! apparently oprah fans
This is seriously one of the worst books I've ever read. The only reason I finished the book is because I cannot put a book down once I start.

The writing is terrible. The plotting may be dramatic, but I had almost zero interest in any of the characters; they seem to exist merely for events to happen to them, like actors in a disaster movie. Beyond that there seemed to be three characters in the book: Bad guy, good guy, and good victimized-yet-able-to -overcome girl.

What got me most was: Ken Foll
Bookworm Sean
This book was so completely fantastic that I almost forgot the outside world existed when I was reading it. I’ve never be so emotionally invested in a story, as I was with this. It’s a rare book that does this to me. I think it’s because it follows the characters through such a large proportion of their lives, resulting in a large amount of intimacy and investment with them. Indeed, this novel spans a massive period of forty years and has 1000+ pages; this is no light reading; it is deep, emotiv ...more
Dan Schwent
Confession time: This is not a book I would have picked out for myself. First of all, look at the size of this kitten squisher! Second of all, Amanda's hate-filled review of it is one of my favorite reviews on Goodreads. However, it's one of my girlfriend's favorite books and when she suggested I give it a read, I knew what was good for me. Lucky for me, I enjoyed it.

Pillars of the Earth is a multigenerational tale about the construction of a cathedral in a fictitious English town in the 1100s.
I know I'm going to be in the minority here, but this is truly one of the worst books I have ever read. I came so close to throwing the book across the room on several occasions, and ended up skipping through many pages just to get to the final and not too surprising finish.

The characters were flat and lifeless and seemed to have been transplanted from the 20th century into medieval England. The book was rife with unnecessary profanity that in no way enhanced the storyline and obscene gratuitou
Jul 11, 2008 Jax rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People with iron wills and a surfeit of free time.
Recommended to Jax by: My mother, who thought I'd like the cover art.
Shelves: awful
A massive tome with a spine thicker than Arnold Schwartzenegger’s forearm, Pillars looks intimidating enough to make even the most avid readers wary; its 973 pages are densely packed with unforgiving walls of 8-point text with nary a line break in sight. Before I was more than a hundred pages in, however, it became apparent that length was among the least of this behemoth of a book’s problems.

Follett's concept—a medieval, generation-spanning epic built around the construction of a cathedral—is
May 10, 2008 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Pillars of the Earth" is a very long book. It's got a lot of soap-opera-like twists and turns - no amnesia, but just about everything else, including mistaken identities, illicit marriages, illicit lack of marriage, illegitimate children, questionable parentage, love triangles, revenge, greed, power, a few murders, rape, witches, politics, knights, swords and horsies. OK, that last bit is not so soap-opera-like. There's also lots and lots of architecture. And it's a very long book.

Main sto
A tapestry of medieval cathedrals centered around an epic drama and some would term it melodrama but that's open to debate.

Ken Follet actually wanted to write this book years before it was published. But his agent told him to build up his base of fans by writing several more thrillers. His EYE OF THE NEEDLE pushed him up to the best seller list.

At a later point, after writing those novels and studying medieval cathedral architecture, Follet got to write his 900 page novel centering around the
Nov 26, 2014 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of a good story
How does one review a book that one cannot even describe?

So many times after gushing about how good Pillars was, people ask me, What’s it about?

And I, swirling in the happy aftermath of a mind so blown away that it’s still traveling near the speed of light, struggle to gather what’s left of analytical thinking and dumbly blurt, “Um, it’s about building this cathedral…”

Way to not to sell a book.

I still have trouble really describing Pillars in a way that satisfies. Because while it is about build
Simona Bartolotta
Aug 21, 2016 Simona Bartolotta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english

“What you’re doing is wrong,” he said. “I mean evil. To give up happiness like this is like throwing jewels into the ocean. It’s far worse than any sin.”

Since there is pretty much nothing I didn't like about this book, and since the only reason why the fifth star is missing is that Medieval history isn't really my thing and so I loved the Century trilogy far too much more in comparison with The Pillars of the Earth to give the latter the same rating as the former, in this review I will only b
6.0 stars. An absolutely amazing reading experience. This one may actually make it on to my "All Time Favorite" list. I listened to the audio version of this book, which means just over 40 hours of content, and when it was finished, I actually believed it should have been LONGER. This book grabbed me from the opening pages and kept me interested and engaged throughout the entire novel (a very rare feet for a 1000 page novel). With as much as I had heard about this book, I went into it with very ...more
Jan 07, 2013 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 15, 2016 Dem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing read, I loved this book. A lengthy novel at over 900 pages and not for the faint hearted and yet the story moves at a surprising quick pace. The characters are so well portrayed and engaging that you cant wait to turn the pages to unravel their fates. I loved the twists and turns of this novel and as historical fiction goes this is among the best I have read as the research is excellent.

Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fic
May 28, 2008 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this book and I loved it!!

The characters were interesting, flawed, and complex. The storyline was captivating, intricate, and exciting. I think that because the story was told from the point of view of many characters (5 or 6, I think), the author was able to show so much more of what was going on in many different places at the same time. Also, the length of the book allowed for a lot of time to pass (almost 50 years). I love how the author incorporated some actual historical
May 17, 2016 Antonio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

—Espero que construyas tu catedral —susurró.
—Creí que no querías que lo hiciera —dijo él, sorprendido.
—Sí, pero estaba equivocada. Te mereces algo hermoso.
Tom no comprendía el significado de aquellas palabras.
—Construye una hermosa catedral para mí —prosiguió Agnes.

Entre los edificios más majestuosos de la antigüedad tenemos a las catedrales, esta es la historia de cómo se construyo una de ellas y de todos los contratiempos, esfuerzos y planes que hay detrás de ella.

Esta historia tiene de tod
Will M.
Set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of Earth is an epic tale of remarkably unforgettable characters in pursuit of building the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known. As simple as the plot may sound, the novel offered more than what it appeared to have.

This is the best Historical Fiction I've read as of today. This gigantic piece of treasure didn't seem that huge while I was reading it. I'm serious when I say that this even felt shorter than some 300+ pages novel I've read.
Kira Fisher
i can't stress enough how not good this book was. (everett says he likes it that i pan books, so he will be pleased with this review.)

where does one start when explaining what makes a piece of shit unpleasant? is it the smell? is it the origins? is it its inherent turdness?

this book is inherently a turd.

mr follett's preface says that people have told him it is the best book they have ever read, and i have to seriously question what they're comparing it to. sweet valley high? maybe, but not neces
Nov 16, 2007 Patricia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Hmmm... a family relation lent me this book. I was mostly interested in what kind of books my particular relation was into. I think you can learn a lot about a person by reading their favorite books. I am actually a little disturbed. Yes you may call me a prude, but there was sex in it. I know what your thinking... thats not a shocker. But its not just sex... it is violent sex. It has several graphic rape scenes. And I have to admit violence to women frightens me.
I don't need that graphic of an
May 06, 2008 Lianna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Toward the end of this 1000 page book I noticed the ad for the equally non-descript titled SEQUEL released 17 years after Pillars. This raises a lot of questions. What kind of author leaves his fans hanging for 17 years? Can there possibly be anything left unsaid after 1000 pages? Is this why Follett looks so smug on the back cover w/his black turtleneck?

Maybe in the sequel he'll explain why he couldn't find room in the story for Martha after age 6. She was my favorite character and she got mayb
Richard Derus
Rating: 3* of five

The Publisher Says: As a new age dawns in England's twelfth century, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral sets the stage for a story of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal. It is in this rich tapestry, where kings and queens are corrupt - and one majestic creation will bond them forever.

Honest. That's all of it. I guess they figure if you haven't read it by now, you ain't a-gonna?

My Review: This was a group read on LibraryThing in 2009...I joined in because I haven't
Dec 04, 2008 Lucy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book. Let's just get that out of the way so there is no confusion later on.

Ken Follett describes a gloomy, dismal, nearly barbaric society whose citizens' greatest concerns seem to be their egos and their lust for power and control. He uses the building of the great European cathedrals as the impetus for his story; the magnificent structures were made possible through trickery, lies, greed, criminal acts and selfish ambition. Forget about the Glory of God...that's just history's cov
Jan 09, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The duck swallows the worm, the fox kills the duck, the men shoot the fox, and the devil hunts the men.
-William Hamleigh, The Pillars of the Earth

This is probably the fifth review I've started for The Pillars of the Earth. The first thing you'll notice is that it's a long read, 900+ pages. Whenever I've attacked a book with similar length I've usually felt that the author was trying to impress me with his big phallic novel, as though the book were really about the size of the book and his abilit
Franco  Santos
Jun 28, 2015 Franco Santos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
El mejor libro que he leído este año, por ahora. Una completa obra maestra.


Traición, tragedia, injusticia, religión, confrontación, monarquía; muerte, amor, esperanza, odio, secretos y envidia convergen en un solo lugar, en la construcción de una catedral. Ken Follett creó un complejo juego de realidades y artimañas en donde de un momento para otro el tablero puede cambiar de forma impredecible.

Renunciar a la felicidad es como arrojar piedras preciosas al océano. Es mucho peor que cualquier pec
Aug 16, 2015 Nikoleta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
Ένα ταξίδι που ξεκινάει τo 1123 και τελειώνει το 1174. Ένα ταξίδι που το ξεκινούν ο Τομ, ο Αλφρεντ, η Ελεν και ο Τζακ, η Αλιενα και ο Ριτσαρντ και φυσικά ο μοναχός Φιλιπ, όλοι τους από κάθε γωνιά της Αγγλίας για να συναντηθούν και να ζήσουν στο Κίνγκσμπριτζ. Θα ζήσουν πολλές περιπέτειες, έρωτες, τραγωδίες, αδικία και χαρά κάτω από την σκιά του υπό ανέγερση καθεδρικού ναού, σε αυτό το μεσαιωνικό έπος που ονομάζεται «οι Στυλοβάτες της γης». Kαι αν με ρωτάτε, τότε σας λέω με σιγουριά «Ναι, το λάτρε ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Denisse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Holy cathedrals, that was a long ride. I really wanted to love this book, for so many reasons I’m not even going to say, but sadly, at several parts I was very detached from the whole thing. And then at some others I was so into the story it almost hurt, especially when Philip or William where on the scene those two made this book for me. It is a long story about injustice, love, religion and ancient architecture, with perfectly constructed characters and an unbelievably perfect set. Maybe ...more
Phew, finished!

I put this book of for so long that I'm angry I deprived myself of a good read for so many months. This is a book you can sit down, wrap yourself up in and exclude the rest of the world for a bit.

Follett is not a historical author, he usually writes thillers and this reflects in his style of writing. The sentences are short and almost clumsy, which after a while can be grating on your nerves. He has this habit of explaining everything to you as if you couldn't understand a pretty
Jan 19, 2009 Dan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of very long/unending series
Shelves: terrible-tomes
(one minor spoiler ahead, reader beware...)

I started this book without too much expectation but between the self-congratulatory introduction that the author gave to his book and learning part way through that it had become an Oprah pick I must admit that I mentally raised the bar a bit.

Unfortunately, I found the book fell short...

I was very interested through about the first half of the book, it is clear that Follett writes thrillers in his other life and some of the initial action scenes were f
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If O. Henry's reanimated corpse were to write a short story about me, it would go something like this: Matt loved to read, but he was a very slow reader, and spent most of his life accumulating books he never got around to looking at. I know, sad. The practical result is that I'm choosy about the books I read. When I pick up a novel, it's usually a "classic" that I feel I should read, or a novel that's such a part of the zeitgeist that refusing to read it would mark me as a cultural caveman. If ...more
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Around the Year i...: The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett 4 50 Jun 03, 2016 05:18AM  
Read Runners: HF March 2016 Additional Read - The Pillars of the Earth 46 30 Apr 08, 2016 05:00AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please update details 3 12 Mar 13, 2016 07:15AM  
Engrossing 5 52 Mar 07, 2016 09:48AM  
why cant I read this book!?!? 34 492 Feb 05, 2016 12:05PM  
TV Series on Pillars of the Earth 37 472 Jan 10, 2016 06:32PM  
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Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 160 million copies of the 30 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in philosophy. He was made a fellow of the coll
More about Ken Follett...

Other Books in the Series

The Pillars of the Earth (3 books)
  • World Without End (The Pillars of the Earth, #2)
  • A Column of Fire

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“Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically.” 256 likes
“The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.” 195 likes
More quotes…