The “I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book!” Challenge: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

pillarsTitle: The Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: New American Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
First line: The small boys came early to the hanging.

Goodreads blurb: As a new age dawns in England’s twelfth century, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral sets the stage for a story of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal. It is in this rich tapestry, where kings and queens are corrupt – and one majestic creation will bond them forever.

First, I would apologize for this post being late, but since no one complained, I think I must have been the only person to read The Pillars of the Earth for August’s challenge selection. That’s okay, because I really enjoyed it, and I’m glad I finally found time to read it. Unfortunately, I finished it a few weeks ago, and didn’t get around to writing the post until now, so I don’t have a lot of in-depth things to say. Instead, I’ll give you a list of the things I liked, and a couple things I didn’t.

~ The writing. Follett knows how to write setting in such a way that he places you right into the world of the book. As I read, it felt like I was in the middle of the 12th century.

~ The female characters Alienna and Ellen. I really liked the fact that Follett’s female characters are strong. Not out-of-character for the time strong, but strong within the constraints of the era in which they lived.

~ The male characters Prior Philip, Tom Builder, and Jack Jackson. They are complex, unique men, each strong in their own way, each with their own particular weaknesses.

~ The history. Follett obviously did a ton of research, and he had a way of making the complex politics of the time understandable to me.

~ The length. Yes, I know this was a historical saga, with a huge cast of characters, that spanned a long period of history, but I do think that he could have sped things along a bit without losing any of the strengths of the story.

~ The graphic rape scenes. The regular sex scenes were a bit much for me, too, but the rape scenes were over the top. In my opinion, you can show the reader what is going on without going into step by step detail of a violent rape. And I’m not talking about one scene, I’m talking about several rape scenes that are described in horrifying detail. I have to admit, it makes me wonder a bit about the author that he felt the need to be so descriptive.

So, there you have it. Have you read it? What did you think? Did you post a review – not just in August, but ever? If so, feel free to link it in the Mr. Linky so I can read your thoughts.

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6 Responses to The “I’ve Always Meant to Read That Book!” Challenge: The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I’ve never read anything by Follett – I think the length of his books intimidate me.

  2. Jeane says:

    I’ve heard this one is very good, but haven’t had the courage to tackle it myself, yet.

  3. irene says:

    I’ve never read this either, and now after you “dislikes” I’m not sure I want to, good writing or not. Thank you for your honesty.