I am very impressed with the narrator/reader. As others have commented, he manages to maintain a separate voice for dozens of characters. With a story this long and complex, it is a huge help for keeping track of who's who.
At first I found it odd that he tends to use British accents for the various characters, but as the story unfolds, it made perfect sense (in an odd way). For a English speaking audience, who can tell the difference between the accent of a Russian aristocrat or peasant? But, we can instantly understand the class of British character as soon as they start to speak. Add a slight cockney accent and we immediately know "this is a peasant character speaking"
Again, I thought it odd at first too, but came to love it. Very, very well done.
The story is good, though famously long. I have always loved reading, but I personally doubt I would have finished this if it were a book. This is a case of a story being infinitely better in audio, because of the superb skills of the reader.
Depressed cynics who enjoy wallowing in a dark and hopeless morass.
I am not even sure to which genre this belongs, but no - Pillars of the Earth (POTE) was a great story.
John Lee is an excellent performer and I recommend him without hesitation.
I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follet's preceding work) but the sequel was a real disappointment. It is inferior in many ways, but what I found most jarring is that there is not a single sincere person of faith represented. This is in stark contrast to the earlier work which showed more balance. Yes, there are hypocrites in POTE, but they were balanced out by others' striving for sincere lives of piety and faith. WWE has no such realistic balance and is therefore riddled with unrealistic and unnecessary cynicism.
Dark, evil characters add spice to a tale, but just as a dish made with only spices would be wholly unpalatable, this book fails to provide any nourishment or sustenance.
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect people of faith (or faith of any kind) to be represented in every book I read or listen to, but this book is expressly focused on religious themes and monastic life. Having not a single character that is genuinely attempting to follow church/biblical teaching is kind of like writing a book about Wall Street, yet not including a single character that actually believes in capitalism. Ultimately it is depressing and unrealistic.
This is very good, but too deep for the audio format. I felt like I was drinking fine cognac from a fire hose - simply the wrong media for the content.
If you have read the book before, this might be a good way to revisit it. Otherwise I'd suggest buying the book instead. Still, the narration is very good and the content is wonderful, so I gave it a four.
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