Review: The Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth is a sweeping saga of 12th century history, love, church rivalries, and war. Everything you’d expect to find in a medieval intrigue. The book spans an entire generation, telling the story of the political upheaval of Queen Maud and King Steven but without court drama and  war being the centerpiece. Instead, it focuses on the fictional town of Kingsbridge and the monks who run the priory and the builders who build the new cathedral.

Books like these always seem to focus on too many characters, leaving me confused about who’s who and which side someone is one. (Then again, when earls switched sides as often as they did in the 12th century, it’s probably natural to be confused.) Follett did a really good job of focusing on a very small group of characters and really developing every single one into someone I understood and knew.

I love love love historical fiction, and while this is a good book, there was a little bit too much fiction for my taste and not enough history. While the true story of of Maud and Steven was told, it was only the background of a completely made up story. Which is fine if that’s what you like but I prefer more history in my historical fiction.

Yay for crossing off #15 in my Unread Library!



4 responses to “Review: The Pillars of the Earth

  1. Even picking up this book frightens me! I used to be an avid reader. My reading has slowed down considerably with the little beasts running around the house.

  2. I very much enjoyed this book and the one that follows it “World Without End” which takes place about 200 years later in the same town.
    Yes, one has to pay attention to keep track of the characters and, like real people and as you mention, they keep changing sides.
    As for historical content, the building technigues and how they changed are right on the money as is the development of the people over the years.

  3. This is a great book! I read it a few years ago after visiting Paris. It was interesting to read in detail how cathedrals were built after seeing them in person.

  4. I read this book a few years ago. I didn’t think ANYone else out there had read it, but I really liked it.
    Did you know Starz made it into a mini-series? If you have Netflix, you can stream all 8 episodes on your new fancy computer. :) I actually think the mini-series did a better job of bringing the Maude and Steven conflict to the center of the story. Plus, it has Ian McShane in it.

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