Finally, I finished the book…I started on August 14th..so it took me almost 2months to finish this book. This is the longest it took me to finish a book…….
It’s difficult to go into too much detail about the plot of this book — there are so many characters and intermingling stories.
The Plot :
Pillars opens in the year 1123, at a hanging. The whole town turns out to see the event, though no one knows the condemned. A knight, a monk, and a priest also attend, and while there, they are cursed by a small woman imbued with malice, scorn, and an odd sense of righteousness…
Fast forward twelve years. We meet Tom Builder – a mason on the hunt for work – and his family: wife Agnes, son Alfred, and little daughter Martha. We meet William Hamleigh, the only son of a corrupt lord and his loathsome wife. We meet Aliena and Richard, children of Bartholomew, Earl of Shiring. We meet Ellen and Jack, castaways from society. And we meet Philip, a humble monk who is trying his best to serve God in a time rife with strife and godlessness.
Over the course of more than 50 years, these characters’ paths will merge, tangle, clash, and swirl as their stories weave and intertwine with the construction of a true architectural feat: the medieval gothic cathedral. They will change the course of each others’ lives, and they will set the stage for one of the grandest sagas of historical fiction ever written.
The main story, however, focuses on the fictional 12th century English town of Kingsbridge — and on its battle to build a beautiful cathedral, despite the efforts of an opposing bishop, who uses the earl of a nearby town as a pawn in his selfish battles. Meanwhile, in Kingsbridge, a young, new prior is fighting to strengthen the town and its monastery, and a poor builder just wants to fulfill his dream of building his very own cathedral.
The story captured me right from the beginning and refused to let go until I’d turned the last page. Follett weaves believable fictional characters and the occasional bit of fact into one of the most captivating books I’ve read in a long time. If you’re the least bit intrigued by — by the castles and the cathedrals and the civil wars for the monarchy — you’ll enjoy every page of this book (even the gruesome battle scenes). And if you never gave a second thought to English history — to the castles and cathedrals and the civil wars for the monarchy — you definitely will after reading this book.
The plot is intricate, sprawling, complex, tightly crafted, and seamlessly interwoven throughout the years and decades of the story. The characters are just as rich and deeply layered as the saga they create. The pacing is superb, the writing is solid and easy to read, and the backdrop upon which the story plays out is surprisingly accurate when it comes to the history of the period.
The Pillars of the Earth opens with a prologue that vaguely introduces future characters and a mystery that will gradually tie the numerous characters together. It is exciting and bizarre and sets the expectations high. It is apparent by this prologue alone that Ken Follett has done his research in terms of twelfth-century culture, a theme that is consistent throughout the novel.
Ken Follett is known for his thrillers. He loves to write the spy stories! But with The Pillars of the Earth, Follett ventured from his normal venue of espionage and intrigue and took the historical fiction world by storm. It was a daring move. As Follett himself has said, “In the book business, when you have had a success, the smart thing to do is write the same sort of thing once a year for the rest of your life…I should not have risked my reputation writing something out of character and overambitious.”
Pillars could have been lauded as the biggest mistake of his career. It could have been terrible. It could have been disastrous. It could have been embarassing. It could have been all of those things and more, but it wasn’t. Put quite simply, Pillars was, and is, a masterpiece.