Ed's Reviews > The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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's review
Aug 04, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: huge-books, historical-fiction
Read in August, 2010

Ok, this was actually a pretty fun read. I'd recommend it if you're into historical fiction and you're looking for something light. Though when I say light I refer only to the prose, because at 1000 pages it's no quick beach read.

The book focuses on the building of a cathedral in 12th century England. There's a lot about architecture in there, but it's not actually as boring as it sounds. Basically, whatever these people do, something always goes wrong. If it's not the evil scheming of some petty earl or bishop, it's civil war or natural disaster or you name it. That got pretty predictable by halfway through, but I suppose you can't have a story like this without an antagonist or ten.

However, the characters are practically one-dimensional. Bad guys are bad, good guys are good, that kind of thing, they don't change as the novel progresses. There was an almost complete lack of characterization. I didn't feel attached to any of them at all and didn't particularly care what happened to them. The writing is no great shakes either, it was dry and lacked any kind of flair, and was so repetitive I think a couple of hundred pages could have been trimmed if the author hadn't felt the need to repeat things he'd said 20 pages ago. For instance, though we're introduced to her in the first pages of the novel, by page 1000 we're still being reminded that Ellen is Jack's mother.

Basically it's an enjoyable book if this is your kind of thing, and it's an exciting story, but it has a lot of faults too.

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04/02/2010 page 338
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