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Pillars of Light

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  428 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Diana Gabaldon meets Ken Follett in this epic story of love, war and redemption.

In the Syrian city of Akka, Nathanael, a young Jewish doctor, and a Muslim girl called Zohra are about to fall in love, unaware that Jerusalem has just been taken by Saladin's army and that their city will soon be engulfed by war.    

Meanwhile in England, John Savage, a foundling boy, runs awa
Paperback, 496 pages
Published January 5th 2016 by Doubleday Canada
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Average rating 3.54  · 
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 ·  428 ratings  ·  68 reviews

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Mark Lawrence
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
On the back of this book it says "A powerful and seductive tale of love in a time of war." The front has gauzy material floating over sand dunes. All of it says ROMANCE.

It's true that there is a narrow, though powerful, thread of romance that links the many elements of the book together, a hidden affair between a young Muslim woman and a young Jewish man, both in a besieged city, and a rather chaste emotional romance between a young Englishman and an older Moorish man. However, the vast majority
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
I went into this book thinking that it was a romance set within a historical fiction backdrop of a 12th century siege. What I got was an engrossing, vivid and human look at the impact of war on the people involved with some romance thrown in for good measure.

Initially the book feels like two stories in one. The plot is told via multiple story lines with one starring John Savage and his group of English misfits who are on their way to help Richard the Lionheart's crusade to take Akka. The other s
Patty Killion
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars

Pillars of Light is a very good book. I truly enjoyed it, but there was just too much war in it. It could have been a shorter book and told the same story. Although, I do have to say every time I became frustrated at the length of a war scene.... I was then drawn back into the story of the people.

The following is the synopsis given by Goodreads. I really could not say it better:

In the Syrian city of Akka, Nathanael, a young Jewish doctor, and a Muslim girl called Zohra are about to fall
Essie Fox
Sep 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Once again Jane Johnson had created a stunning story of love and endurance against the vivid tapestry of pivotal moments in history. For anyone who relishes a big intelligent historical read.
Joy (joyous reads)
Jane Johnson’s Pillars of Light has been compared to likes of Diana Gabaldon’s books. For what reason, I don’t really know. Perhaps it’s the historical setting, or the writing even. Whatever it is, I felt the same way about Gabaldon’s books as I did Johnson’s: a visceral disconnection with the events taking place, and the general lack of empathy towards the characters.

Pillars of Light is – essentially – a two books in one type of reads. Set in the time of the Crusades, it tells the story of a Je
Evan G
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-read
I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

This is an historical fiction novel set in the late 12th century, specifically after the Christians lost the city of Jerusalem to the Muslims. The Christians also had lost a major city called Acre or Akka. This is where the majority of the book takes place. The Christian armies siege this city to take it back from the Muslims.

There are many different perspectives that we see from. We see from people on the Christian side of things, we s
Aug 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books, 5-stars
At first I didn’t like the book as much as I like it now. Nathanael's and Zohr's story immediately intrigued me, but the story of John, Maur and their company wasn't very interesting to me, in fact it was surplus and didn't make sense to me, but due to the development of events, everything eventually nicely fit together. This book shows the tragedies and ugliness of war, but also the beauty and strength of love. I like the appearance of forbidden and unexpected loves. Nathanael and Zohra are my ...more
Dec 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another superb read from the pen of a worthy successor to Dorothy Dunnett!
A disparate group making the trip from Cornwall via Somerset to the Cinque posts and thence to the Holy Land and the untrammelled savagery of the Seige of Acre. John Savage, a foundling, but with an eye and a talent for drawing, Ezra, a girl using a boys identity, the enigmatic Moor and a crew of mummers and rogues find themselves despatched to Palestine for Richard the Lionheart's Crusade. A Palestine where Saladin has c
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
I loved the descriptive writing, the setting and the characters of this historical novel, but, as with anything involving wars, sieges, feuds etc I tended to get lost trying to follow what was going on. I think that's just me though - don't be put off :) ...more
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historic-fiction
The horrors of war, the intolerance among religions for each other and the hope of a better future are all themes in this retelling of the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade in the 12th century. The crusaders including King Richard, the Lionhearted are determined to take Acre on their way to reclaim Jerusalem. Saladin is equally determined to stop them. The population of Acre is caught in the middle. Wonderful fictional characters including John Savage, a foundling who becomes a con man; The ...more
Janna G. Noelle
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Pillars of Light centers around the siege and eventual fall of Akka in the Holy Land during the Third Crusade in the 12th century. One storyline follows the secret love affair between Zorha, a Muslim girl who has been betrothed to a hated cousin, and Nathanael, a Jewish doctor/doctor's son, both of whom live in Akka. Another follows John Savage, an abused foundling from Cornwall, England who was raised in a monastery and who takes up with a mysterious Moor and a band of shysters to fake religiou ...more
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I like historical fiction but I admit that I didn't know much about the Crusades until this novel. I soon became immersed in the era because of the vivid, authentic and well-written descriptions. Despite this book being very detailed, it didn't take me that long to read. Once I got into the story, I did not want to stop reading.
I liked how the narrative was split to show different perspectives of the conflicts. Plus, I was able to read about several interesting characters. The cast of characters
Robert Dunn
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Rated 3.5. This is quite a long story about the siege of Acra, Syria during the 3rd crusade in the late 12th century. It is told from the point of view of the European foot soldier and the Muslim residents of Acra under siege. It is an interesting book that gives a totally different viewpoint of the "holy wars" and the fight for Jerusalem. The love matches the author ends the book on is a bit of a stretch especially for those times. ...more
Jane Glen
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This is probably closer to a 4, but when a book is this long, it needs to be riveting. My preference would have been to follow the more interesting characters more and less focus on the minor ones. That being said, she did an excellent job of weaving it together and presenting both sides of one of the Holy Wars. What a travesty- for all of this to be in the name of God.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it liked it
I so wanted to love this and give it four stars or more, and it started out really well. As I kept reading I was very disappointed in the lack of depth of almost all the characters. It was like she started and then got distracted by the rest of the story on the war. I feel very let down.
Gorana Gogach
May 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not my kind of a book.. Neznam kad sam ovoliko dugo neku knjigu čitala :/
Denise Loveless
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
My Book Club Book. Did not hold my interest but I did finish it. Looking forward to the discussion this novel will bring at the book club meeting.
Jos Deroo
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another fascinating historical novel about the conflict between medeaval Islam/Christian differences. This time set in Akka during the crusader siege of this city. Well written !
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well written historical novel of war and the heartache and loss it causes.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intense, kind of bloody and gross, but engaging look at Christian/Muslim battles in the 1100’s.
Leah Cripps
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Not quite as strong an effort as her previous books but not bad.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I always enjoy Jane Johnson's books and this one was no exception. ...more
Dee Baiano
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Didn’t even finish this one. Toooo boring zzzzzzzzzzz
Apple Austria
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
just noticed a few lapses where quickfinger was referred to as quicksilver
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
Cathy Savage
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is the story of what life during the Crusades was like for the participants of the siege of Acre (located in the area of present day Syria). The novel part was how it showed a vision of what life may have been like on both sides of the conflict. The impact on the Muslim, Jewish and Christian characters was very believable and demonstrated the inhumanity of war and the atrocities committed in the effort to, at all costs, win. Well researched with a bibliography supplied gives me a place to s ...more
When I asked my dad for his copy of War and Peace to read, he wanted to give me this book as well. (I insisted it wait since I doubted how quickly I'd read W&P.) Now what I find kind of cute about my dad recommending me this one is that yes, he recommended it because he enjoyed it and thought if I were reading historical fiction right now I might follow-up with this one, but I also think that he recommended it because of the gay relationship in it. In high school I was very loud about gay rights ...more
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
*See this review and more on my blog, Pages & Pepper :*

I desperately wanted to love this book. I had first heard about it near the end of last year, before the novel was published - and it sounded fantastic! It was, in fact, fantastic... For the first 50 or so pages. Those pages offer one of the better introductions to a story that I've seen in quite some time. We are told of John, an English, Catholic conman by circumstance, whose entire life has been a struggle, and of Zoh
Jessica Hawley Malina
Feb 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting and enjoyable.
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 Jan 14, 2016 09:14AM  

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aka Jude Fisher, Gabriel King (with M. John Harrison)

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer.

She was responsible for publishing the works of J R R Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. Under the pseudonym o

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