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Preview — The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
William Hamleigh could hardly contain his excitement when Earlscastle came into sight. It was the afternoon of the day after the king had made his decision. William and Walter had ridden for most of two days but William did not feel tired. He felt as if his heart was swelling up in his chest and blocking his throat. He was about to see Aliena again. He had once hoped to marry her because she was the daughter of an earl, and she had rejected him, three times. He winced as he remembered her scorn. She had made him feel like a nobody, a peasant; she had acted as if the Hamleighs were a family of ...more
Of all the villains I have created, William Hamleigh is the one readers most love to hate. Critics sometimes say that a villain should not be all black, but should have a streak of gray, some redeeming trait, to be realistic. The heck with that, say I, and William proves my point. He’s realistic because he’s driven by believable psychological demons.
Please do check the portuguese translation. So many mistakes, characters name's mistaken, it's awful in all the 4 books in Portugal.
I re-read the book after 30 years of first reading.. I enjoyed the story more than before.. now on World without end !!!
Conner Culpepper, what say ye?
Aliena felt no relief, no pride in having defended herself and her brother from ruthless men: she was too disgusted and repelled by the hideous sight. Richard felt no such qualms. “You stabbed him, Allie!” he said in a voice between excitement and hysteria. “You did for them!” Aliena looked at him. He had to be taught a lesson. “Kill this one,” she said. Richard stared at her. “What?” “Kill him,” she repeated. “Put him out of his misery. Finish him off!” “Why me?” She deliberately made her voice harsh. “Because you act like a boy and I need a man. Because you’ve never done anything with a ...more
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I like this scene. Yes, I know, it’s brutal and violent; but there’s a deep truth here. Aliena and Richard are alone in a cruel world, and Richard is a wimp. She knows she has to toughen her brother up, or he’ll never survive. So she makes him do something horrible. He’ll be a stronger man for it (although, in the end, never strong enough).
Very strong and important from Aliena, although brutal.
I love that all your f your females are so strong!
The imagery of this scene is visceral and stark and I think really brings home to the reader just how different 12th century England must have been. The rule of law had but a limited reach, so once b…
Philip left the window and returned to his writing desk. What could be done? For a moment he was tempted to do nothing. Let Bishop Henry come and look, and make his own decision, he thought. If the cathedral is to be built at Shiring, so be it. Let Bishop Waleran take control of it and use it for his own ends; let it bring prosperity to the town of Shiring and the evil Hamleigh dynasty. God’s will be done. He knew that would not do, of course. Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing that you would find success if you did your best honestly and ...more
Philip is the hero of this book, and he is a sincere and devout believer, whereas I’m an atheist, so Philip presented me with a major challenge. I thought about the religious folk I admire, people such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, who dedicated their lives to helping people here on earth, not up in heaven. Philip represents everything that I respect about religion. Philip is less like me than any other major character in my books and, paradoxically, I think he’s the best character I ever created.
I really loved Phillip for the reason you mentioned in your notes. I grew up with a religious set of grandparents that I would spend every summer with. Although I don't believe in God or Jesus and wo…
In my mind and heart, Philip ranks right there with Jean Valjean as the characters that most realistically represent man's attempts to be good and moral. Sometimes they screw up and pride or their am…
Yes, he is great!
There was something else Tom needed to tell them, something important but subtle, and he was searching for the right words. Monks could be arrogant, and might alienate the volunteers. Tom wanted today’s operation to be easygoing and cheerful. “I’ve worked with volunteers before,” he began. “It’s important not to ... not to treat them like servants. We may feel that they are laboring to obtain a heavenly reward, and should therefore work harder than they would for money; but they don’t necessarily take that attitude. They feel they’re working for nothing, and doing a great kindness to us ...more
This comes directly from my experience in charity and political volunteering. Many times I’ve found myself leading a group of people who are working at something, giving their time and talents and money, out of the goodness of their hearts; and I always felt the need to make sure they knew they were appreciated.
Jack knelt beside the body. He felt the urge to do something, or say something, and for the first time he understood why people liked to pray for the dead. “Mother is going to miss you terribly,” he said. He remembered the angry speech he had made to Tom on the day of his fight with Alfred. “Most of that wasn’t true,” he said, and the tears started to flow. “You didn’t fail me. You fed me and took care of me, and you made my mother happy, truly happy.” But there was something more important than all that, he thought. What Tom had given him was nothing so commonplace as food and shelter. Tom ...more
When I first began to talk about the idea for Pillars, some people hated the idea. “Nobody cares about building a church in the Middle Ages,” they said. But readers will care about it if the characters care. This paragraph tells us how the cathedral is at the center of Jack’s intellectual and emotional life. That’s how a building of stone comes to drive the novel.
Absolutely spot on, we care because the characters care. We also learn where the characters learn.
Actually I loved how the story was around the building of the cathedral, it helped a lot with the division of the chapters and gave a refreshing twist to the story!
Working in libraries, whenever someone asks, "You know what my favorite book is?" It is inevitably followed by Pillars of the Earth. Exactly for the reason you say in this note. The characters are al…
Richard came in carrying his saddlebags. “If you can’t look after yourself, you’d better find someone else to look after you,” he said. “I’ve always got you.” “I can’t take care of you!” he protested. “Why not?” A small spark of anger flared in her. “I’ve looked after you for six long years!” “I’ve been fighting a war—all you’ve done is sell wool.” And knife an outlaw, she thought; and throw a dishonest priest to the floor, and feed and clothe and protect you when you could do nothing but bite your knuckles and look terrified. But the spark had died and the anger had gone, and she merely said: ...more
Readers like this passage because it makes them furious. Aliena has dedicated herself to looking after her cowardly and selfish brother, and she gets no thanks for it. What an egomaniac he is!
But that made the story so realistic, no flawless characters but human ones.
Alexia Xuereb Diacono
Yes, I felt angry. I wanted her to continue arguing till he understands her point. I kept saying 'come on Aliena put your foot down!
But you wrote into life a strong and selfless woman in an age where that was often frowned upon. Their dynamic and her devotion to him was so amazing.
They went all the way down the turret stairs and came out on the ground. Aliena felt weak. Jack turned to her and said in a conversational tone: “I was reading in the cloisters, and looked up and saw you in the clerestory.” She looked at his young face, so full of concern and tenderness; and she remembered why she had run away from everyone else and sought solitude here. She yearned to kiss him, and she saw the answering longing in his eyes. Every fiber of her body told her to throw herself into his arms, but she knew what she had to do. She wanted to say I love you like a thunderstorm, like a ...more
This scene brings tears to my eyes even now, decades after I wrote it. Am I proud of it? You bet your socks.
She felt Jack’s unhappiness more painfully than her own. She adored him. Nobody knew how much she loved him, except perhaps his mother, Ellen, who saw everything. She loved him because he had brought her back to life. She had been like a caterpillar in a cocoon, and he had drawn her out and shown her that she was a butterfly. She would have spent her entire life numb to the joys and pains of love, if he had not walked into her secret glade, and shared his story-poems with her, and kissed her so lightly, and then slowly, gently, awakened the love that lay dormant in her heart. He had been so ...more
I believe this with all my heart. Love does many wonderful things for us, but the greatest of all is that it shows us what we might become. Someone who truly loves you can see fine qualities in you that you might not even know about yourself. He or she loves the very best in you, and that love brings it out. I think readers instinctively know this, which is why the passage resonates with them so powerfully.
It was a revolutionary idea, to build big strengthening members in a position where they would be starkly visible. But it was part of the new style to show how the building was being held up. Anyway, his instinct said this was right. The more he thought about it, the better he liked it. He visualized the church from the west. The half-arches would look like the wings of a flight of birds, all in a line, just about to take off. They need not be massive. As long as they were well made they could be slender and elegant, light yet strong, just like a bird’s wing. Winged buttresses, he thought, for ...more
Jack is fictional, of course, but there must have been a moment like this in real life, when a medieval builder thought of the idea of flying buttresses; and I bet that guy remembered that moment for the rest of his life.
Could you liken William Hamleigh to Shakespeare's Richard 111. Yes William is a dark villain and comes across as such, but Richard 111 shows some redeeming vignettes in his somewhat evil and ambitiou…
This series, Pillars of the Earth, World without End and Column of Fire is one of my favor series. Ken is one of my favorite authors.
Of the three books, I have to say that World Without End was my favourite. I loved the plague aspect, how Caris watched and learned with every outbreak, but the monks stuck to their guns regarding th…
“Each one of us must go from this place and tell what he has seen.” Several people nodded vigorously. They were listening—but Philip wanted more. He wanted to inspire them. Preaching had never been his forte. He was not one of those men who could hold a crowd rapt, make them laugh and cry, and persuade them to follow him anywhere. He did not know how to put a tremor in his voice and make the light of glory shine from his eyes. He was a practical, earthbound man; and right now he needed to speak like an angel. “Soon every man, woman and child in Canterbury will know that the king’s men murdered ...more
Some speakers can inspire a crowd with fake emotions and dubious facts, but that’s not Philip’s way. He’s no demagogue. He has to be honest. And he turns out to be even more inspiring because of it.
I loved Pillars of the Earth and look forward to reading the other two book in the future.
I loved this book and the reason for a town acquiring permission to build a cathedral has stuck in my mind. How hard they all worked as a comnunity to attain this position.