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Pillars of the Earth review

December 23, 2008

From the Publisher:13779588

The Pillars of the Earth sweeps through four decades of 12th Century England drawing the listener into the raw, flamboyant middle ages. It is a shining saga of good and evil, treachery and intrigue, violence and beauty. Not-so-noble knights, righteous heroes, valiant heroines and both virtuous and immoral men of God highlight this story. They manipulate, and are in turn manipulated by, the political turmoil and unrest between the reigns of Henry I and Henry II.

The listener will cheer on the fates of the virtuous and hiss at the evil-doers. A truly fascinating story that the listener will never forget.

Review and Grade: B+/A-

I’ve been putting off writing this review because this is such a well known book. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but at the same time, I can’t sit here and write a rave about it. Follett is clearly talented and he constructs the book in the way he describes the cathedral being built: carefully, delicately, simple and sturdy at first then gradually more ornate and extravagant. It’s always a bigger committment when you pick up such a large book than a normal novel, however Pillars of the Earth is easier and less tedious than many 300pg books. That being said, it didn’t feel any more rewarding. Follett wasn’t long-winded and yet I don’t feel like I got 900+ pages worth of content or adventure or anything else out of it. It was a great book, every minute was enjoyable and it was almost impossible to put down, and yet it wasn’t epic or classic as I had expected. It hasn’t stayed with me in the way that spending 900 pages or 40 years growing with characters usually would. As you can probably tell, I’m feeling ambivalent. Don’t get me wrong, read it and savor it. Pillars of the Earth is a wonderful book, crafted more than written and truly a great read. I only mean to say that it did not quite live up to the hype I had come across.

Edit: Ok, I would like to adapt my comment about the characters. The one character who rang true with me was Philip. I fell in love with his realistic faith, his ingenuity and cleverness, as well as his honest humility. Philip is idealized, certainly, but he is still a good example of what many Christians, or people of any faith really, strive to be. Philip is the one character that carried me through the entire story.


If you already had any inclination whatsoever to read this book, just do it. It’s easier to get through than many other books, so there’s no reason to hold back. Don’t let its girth stop you, but don’t let it mislead your expectations either.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2008 6:57 pm

    I found you through Florinda’s blog. 🙂

    I have yet to try this author. I really would like to in 2009.

  2. April 22, 2009 8:09 am

    I’m half way through this and am starting to look longingly at other books in my tbr. I just might give up on it. OR! Could you recommend a place later I could jump back in and just get the ending? I might just go to page 900 and see where I’m at.

    • April 22, 2009 9:01 am

      Hey Care! I remember it really lagging around the middle, but I can’t remember where it picked up! Skipping a couple hundred pages probably won’t hurt, but all of a sudden stuff will start happening. You’ve made it this far and trust me, it’s a great feeling when you get to say you finished that clunker! Sorry I can’t tell you anything more specific.

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