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The Pillars of the Earth

(Kingsbridge #1)

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4.31  ·  Rating details ·  598,334 ratings  ·  29,687 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 what
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Paperback, 976 pages
Published February 4th 2002 by NAL Trade (first published October 1989)
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Ken Follett
Ken Follett - author, philanthropist, guitarist

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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)
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)
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56,123 books — 193,198 voters
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Average rating 4.31  · 
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 ·  598,334 ratings  ·  29,687 reviews


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Emily May
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
“The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.”

Look, it's difficult to explain exactly why I liked this book. Seriously, if you take a look at the blurb, note the 973 pages, and the fact it's a very long story about building a cathedral in Medieval England, you might think I've been smoking something. But for me - and I'm assuming for a large number of other readers - it was so damn compelling.

I'm going to get the crap out of the way first - if you are sensitive to scenes of rape, DO
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DeLaina
Aug 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Amanda
Aug 30, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Francine
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 ...more
Matthew
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone!
7.2 MILLION STARS!

Did I just read one of the most amazing books I have ever read? Yes, yes I did!

I cannot say enough about this book, the story, the writing, the characters, etc. etc. etc. Everything is perfect!

If someone had said to me, “Here is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral 1000 years ago in England” I probably would have fallen asleep before the end of their sentence. But, do not judge a book by its description – it is a 1000 page book about the building of a cathedral,
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Jeffrey Keeten
”He was mesmerized by the challenge of making soft, round shapes out of hard rock. The stone had a will of its own, and if he tried to make it do something it did not want to do, it would fight him, and his chisel would slip, or dig in too deeply, spoiling the shapes. But once he had got to know the lump of rock in front of him he could transform it.”

 photo Pillars20of20the20Earth_zpsdxd1nexw.jpg

There are so many memorable characters populating this epic novel that I would be hard pressed to even say who is the main character of this
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amelia
Nov 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
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, ...more
Chelsea Humphrey
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chelsea by: Emily May
Shelves: library
This was incredible. After reading this for weeks, I'll need a bit to sort out my thoughts on this one. Review to come.

Also, how great is the feeling when you're the first person to check out a brand new replacement copy via the library?
Misfit
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
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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.
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James
I read this out of order as once I read "World Without End," I was so captivated that I had to go back to read this one. It was good, but I much preferred "World Without End."

Follett creates such a remarkable world full of characters you love and you hate. And to think it takes place over 500 years ago... so many historical adventures, realities... I love the relationship people had with the church -- not so much from a religious perspective, but in how it defined every action and thought in
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Peter
Jan 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Epic
If you ever wanted to use the words Epic and Classic in a book review, The Pillars of the Earth is a book that upholds that accolade. It is a fabulous masterpiece of historical fiction, based in England in the 12th Century. The sense of time and place are vividly drawn and the fragility and harshness of life shadow each of the characters.

The array of characters are impressively developed, and with over 1000 pages in the novel, this becomes a generational journey spanning many decades and
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Jax
Jul 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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Matt
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, buddy-read
Ken Follett leaves his comfort zone with this epic tome, which highlights the development and building of a massive cathedral in Kingsbridge, a rural English community. Follett takes the reader back to the 12th century, where Tom Builder is looking for work. After the death of his wife in childbirth, Tom leads his family from town to town hoping for employment scraps to ensure his brood has a means to survive. Meanwhile, a young monk by the name of Phillip travels to Kingsbridge on business, ...more
Shannon
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
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Jason Koivu
A monumental undertaking! An achievement to last the ages!

Want to know how it feels to build a cathedral? Read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. By the time you're done reading this huge book you will feel as if you've spent the better part of your life hoisting brick and laying mortar.

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The details are marvelous and intricate. Follett obviously did a lot of research in order to construct this mammoth book. This is reminiscent of Moby Dick in the minutia of its attention to detail. It acts
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Troy
Mar 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Ahem.
"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
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Kay
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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Amalia Gavea
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There aren't many things left to say when it comes to Ken Follett's masterpiece. The Pillars of the Earth is one of the most beautiful, haunting, exquisitely well-written novels of all time. It is a ''showstopper'' book not only in the Historical Fiction genre, but in Literature in general. Still, for an obsessed reader of historical novels like yours trully, it can become the standard by which all other historical sagas are measured. I don't know whether this is just and right, but it does ...more
Dem
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing novel, A 5 Star Historical Fiction read
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 story and as historical fiction goes this is among the best I have read as the research is excellent and the sense of time and place so real and vivid.

Set in 12th-century
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Stephen
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
Simona Bartolotta
4.5

“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
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Dana Ilie
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those novels where you come to care about the characters (most of them; others you come to hate), where you are cheering them on and hoping things will finally go their way. As in his previous novels, Follett doesn’t shy away from hard truths; this was a brutal time in history, and there are some horrible and disturbing acts of violence in the novel (and not all occur during battle), but that only makes you root for the main characters even harder. I even found the scenes ...more
Candace
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This epic novel draws the reader into the 12th century story filled with tragedy, romance, success, betrayal and revenge. We have a host of characters to love and hate. Through these characters we live vicariously. The description is so well written that the reader feels they are in the story, whether in Kingsbridge, England building a Gothic cathedral or in Saint-Denis (France) studying cathedral architecture. The plot and subplots weave through the building of Kingsbridge cathedral and the ...more
Michael
Jul 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lianna
Feb 15, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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Lucy
Nov 10, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
There were too many triggers for me but the rest was fantastic! I have been listening to the audio FOREVER!

Mel
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David Putnam
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this one awhile ago. I remember it as one of my top five reads of all time even though I mostly dwell within the mystery/thriller genre. I'm hot and cold on Ken Follett books but this one is a wonderful read. I am always on the look out for a book that first and foremost immerses me in the Fictive Dream and this is one of them. And it's an epic so the ride was long and comfortable. My world fell away as I entered this one.
Highly recommend.
David Putnam author of the Bruno Johnson series.
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2019 & 2020 Readi...: The Pillars of Earth (Kingsbridge #1) 14 30 21 hours, 35 min ago  
Joffrey Baratheon or William Hamleigh? 2 13 Nov 15, 2019 11:53AM  
Book recommendations 1 9 Nov 06, 2019 09:28AM  
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40,396 followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.
Born on June 5th, 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 – later to be made a Fellow of
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Other books in the series

Kingsbridge (3 books)
  • World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2)
  • A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)
“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.” 324 likes
“The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.” 247 likes
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