Whitelady3's Reviews > The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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's review
Dec 02, 10

bookshelves: not-own, portuguese, 2010
Read from September 15 to October 17, 2010

I bought this book in a Book Fair simply because my mother wanted an autograph of the author, since she had already read some of his books in the '80s (she read Lie Down With Lions and never stops talking and praising it) and had become a fan. I wouldn't have read it just now if it wasn't for having seen so many good reviews and the fact that there's a series that should be airing soon in Portuguese television. I'm so grateful all these factors came together and convinced me to pick up this book. What a trip! It's a beautiful epic that, having for background a period of civil war in England, tells the story of how a cathedral, a dream for some and nightmare for others, was built.

The story unravels at a very slow pace, giving us a chance to get to know the various characters whose lives intersect at a moment and place, Kingsbridge in mid-12th century, on the eve of building a cathedral. There's not exactly a protagonist, since the paths intertwine in such a way that they complement each other: if we have a builder who wants to build a cathedral, we also have a prior with the same dream and the possibility of making it real; if we want to see characters that want to built it in order to honour God, we have others who care for their own benefit ... and that's how this story is constructed, brick by brick

If in the first half of the book the reader seems to wander a bit lost, since the purpose of the story doesn't seem well defined and we don't really know where the author wants to go with the story, we still continue to read moved by a curiosity to see questions answered. But what I really should point out is the author's work regarding the description of the medieval day-to-day life. Concepts that in History classes, although well explained, were hard for me to understand how it was actually put in place or why (yes, there were concepts that confused me particularly in what concerned the control of land and populations by the lords) here were brilliantly illustrated, making the image very real and credible. Even if here and there words like Spain and Portugal seemed a bit anachronistic, overall it all seemed very well done and gave me a chance to learn about a part of England's History which I was completely unaware.

Regarding the characters, between real and fictional characters, we have a huge variety and they all differ. Ambitions, doubts, life experience, each one is rich and unlike any other, making us sympathize in the bad times and be overjoyed when things go well. It's impossible to stay indifferent to what each character goes through, and if we want the best for some, we can only wish the worst for those most ruthless characters, which only care for themselves.

It didn't left me with an empty hole as others when I finally put it aside, but it remains an extraordinary book and, undoubtedly, a book to read again. This is, despite its many pages, a book to keep and read whenever I feel down, because it tells a story of persistence and how honourable people, with different objectives other than the gain itself, are able to make their way favoured by the luck or any other grace. This is a book which fills a person with hope, reminding us that having faith and believing in our dream and ourselves we can move forward even though many plot against us. It's an ode to perseverance, to believing in our dreams, even if they seem so difficult to become true with so many obstacles along the path. But all this makes the end worthwhile. I recommend it!
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