I have always had a list of books that had at the time and place that I read them, became what I considered the best book I have ever read. "Gone With The Wind", "To Kill A Mockingbird", "Giant" and of course , more recently, the Harry Potter Series. This book is become part of the list.
It is so well written and narrated that it is no wonder that Oprah made it a 'Book of the Month Club' choice. Be prepared to become addicted to it. I put off a full day to listen to the final chapters in order to delay finishing it. Five Stars all the way. You wil not regret it.
It was a reasonably good story but too many of the characters were either ridiculously evil or saintly good. One of the main evil characters (William) could have been disposed by the goodies but of course we knew that the author had to keep him around to sew new evil plots in the chapters ahead.
I personally found the description of architecture and building more compelling than many of the characters' drawn-out lives. It was one of the few times when listening to an audiobook that I yearned for an illustrated hard copy.
A new senior citizen, employed drive 80 miles a day. Gives me time to listen for hours every day, and I have almost stoped reading.
Ken Follett creates a masterful story first by creating multiple characters who develop, both in conflict and in concert with each other within an intricate story line; and secondly, by depcting a rather mundane historical period in England during the Middle Ages with color and a vibrance that seems almost contemporary. His second book of the period, World Without End, is equally fascinating. Both are wonderful selections. I reccomend both in unabridged versions because the story telling is terrific and enhanced by the detail and multiple character interaction. I hope there is third book from Follett.
I enjoyed the book, and am now listening to the sequel. The "but" relates to the predictability of some of the situations that develop. You say to yourself no, don't go there but sure enough they do. I still recommend the book. You find yourself wondering how this situation will eventually work it's way out and there are some surprises so go for it!
This is the very best book I have listened to. The characters are amazing. This is the very best book I have ever come across in my life. I can not wait to read his other books!!!
The Pillars of the Earth is a captivating story by a talented author. The audio book narration is excellent. The other handles most characters well, but you are left wondering what happens to certain notable characters such as Martha and Peter. Unfortunately, the authors weakness seems to be with sex. It is as if he thinks the audience will stop reading if there is not some explicit sex scene every couple of pages. This is a shame. I can't recommend the book because of it. The story could be told just as powerfully, the love stories could be just as strong, without detailed descriptions of sex acts. The antagonist is also commits numerous rapes and the descriptions of his deviant behavior make you wonder how sick and twisted the author himself might be (hopefully not though.) You most definitely DO NOT want children to hear the book, and I personally will not read/hear any more books by this author. There is enough filth in the world that we do not need great stories sullied by verbal pornography. The story of the cathedral building, the medieval (actually 1100's) life and livelihood, and the insights into "the Church" are all very interesting and made the story enjoyable despite its problems. It is also seems very likely that the author is not religious. Knowing that the "Church" was deep into apostasy during this era and that the light of the Restoration was 800 years off, I can sympathize with the concerns the author may have about evil Bishops, Monks, or Priors, but I suspect most Catholic would be deeply offended. Being religious myself though I felt that the author could not comprehend how religion motivates people and why. There was an underlying tone of contempt for religion -- much like the feel you get from the mainstream media and elitists liberals today. That however could be me misunderstanding the author.
First the good: The book has a fairly engaging narrative and is read very well by John Lee.
Now for the bad: The author must think we're idiots. Notably, it happens many times in the story that the author explains what a character is thinking after he or she does something. However, knowing the characters, and following their dialogue during the scenes, it is often quite evident what the character is thinking. So this extra explanation about a characters thoughts is quite annoying. I found myself saying, "Duh, get on with the story."
A second flaw is that the "big reveals" aren't at all stunning. For example, when Philip is imprisoned after the War in Lincoln, it's 100 percent evident that Francis has bailed him out. The reader knows this, and it seems impossible that Philip wouldn't know it as well. This happens over and over again. The moment the town of Cherbourg (sp?) France is mentioned, it's evident that's where Jack is from. And yet when he's walking through the town the "mystery" of why people are staring at him is dragged out forever. Get over it. It's not a mystery to the reader, nor should it be to Jack in any logical universe.
I couldn't stop listening to this engaging story. It is a real pageturner. The characters are well developed and the plot holds together throughout many hours. The Narrator is quite good.
So why 4 stars? One reason is the unfortunate tendency of the author to dwell on violent rape and sexual scenes. I alternated between thinking he had a perverse fascination with sadism and feeling he wanted to sell books. Such scenes only occur every several hours, but you tire of them. The other caveat is the treatment of Christians. Follett states he is an atheist in the intro. He does give a somewhat balanced view in that there is one "good" man of God among many evil ones just as there are evil and good outside the church. I will be the first (along with Luther, et al) to admit that there were many abuses in the medieval church, but there were surely devout men with good motives in many church positions.
Overall, this was a gripping tale and worth the credit if you have time for a long book.
This is a miserable book! The characters are not particularly medieval in their actions and the gratuitous sex scene after the wife's death is nasty. The book is grim in ways that are probably historic. I'm sure medieval life was hard, but this applies modern responses to it in a way that does not work. Very hard to listen to and annoying.