Murray's Reviews > The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
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's review
Aug 23, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: historical, novel, romance
Read in August, 2009

Many years in the making, this book apparently became a 'word of mouth' success and is one of Follett's enduring best sellers. I had not come across it, and was put onto it by a friend as we visited a bookshop together. It has proved to be one of my best reads this year (a year of good books as it happens).

The opening, involving a hanging and a curse, does get the story off to a gripping start. There are more twists and turns in the tale which spans about 60 years, than you get on an average Alpine pass. Yet at the end the story is coherent and has painted a believable and bloody tapestry of the excesses of the Feudal era in England, at a time when it was in the grips of a civil war.

Follett says he is not religious, and yet he does manage to convey some of the passions behind the building of the extraordinary cathedrals of Norman times, that grace both England and France to this day. Another author might have had more insight into the truly spiritual motivation that brought masons and stain glass workers together in a period amazing for its brutality and creativity. But another author might not have produced a story that keeps you wanting to read nearly 1000 pages. His characters are interesting and unusual and even their less attractive traits make sense in the context of the time.

Highly recommended - unless you want a book that can fit in your pocket.

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