Betsy Speicher

The Pillars of the Earth

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3 posts in this topic

This book is structured somewhat like The Hunchback of Notre Dame; in that there’s a central point of focus (Notre Dame) in which events swirl. In The Pillars of the Earth, that focal point is Kingsbridge and the building of a new cathedral (though it is much more loosely structured.)

What happens in Kingsbridge is some of the best epic writing I have ever read; with some of the most loveable and villainous character you’ll ever know. This is, without thinking hard, the best period piece I’ve ever read.

Part of the reason is because author Ken Follett doesn’t embrace “over-realism”; you can easily understand the characters accents; and many are moral or heroic or villainous by today’s standards (in fact, one of the criticisms of the book is that the characters are “too modern.”) In short, Follett embraces romanticism. This is not to say its not realistic, the world is ruled by true historical events, and all the terminology and lifestyles are accurate to 13th century England.

One of the greatest accomplishments of this book is that every character is fleshed out and rings true despite the fact that the pace of the book is very much an epic. All characters, villains and heroes, have motivations and seem like real people (even minor characters that are only in a few scenes.)

One of the heroes, Phillip, is a priest; but Follett makes clear his virtues don’t come from his faith. His struggles, political, emotional, and physical, are exiting.

This has become one of my favorite books, but like most of my posting time lately, I have to cut it short.

I’ll say more later; Highly Recommended!

- Ryan

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