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The Pillars of the Earth | [Ken Follett]

The Pillars of the Earth

Why we think it’s a great listen: Got 40 hours to kill? You’ll find the time when you start listening to Lee’s take on Follett’s epic – and widely celebrated – novel of 12th-century England. The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...and of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame....
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Publisher's Summary

The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known...of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame...and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of 12th-century England, this is Ken Follett's historical masterpiece.

©1989 Ken Follett; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Follett is a master." (The Washington Post)
"A historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (12476 )
5 star
 (8259)
4 star
 (2799)
3 star
 (841)
2 star
 (306)
1 star
 (271)
Overall
4.5 (4904 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.6 (4868 )
5 star
 (3561)
4 star
 (978)
3 star
 (216)
2 star
 (59)
1 star
 (54)
Performance
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  •  
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 12-08-07
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 12-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    5
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    Overall
    "Sublime"

    Follet's preface, about how he'd come to write this novel, had me hooked. His effort, research and honesty propelled me into his novel with enthusiasm. The reader, John Lee, does a superb job. His tone is rich, full of a multitude of vocal inflections that carry ones imagination deeply into this historical adventure. And like a great actor he never shines so brightly on the material that his 'acting' takes precedence over the reading. I can't wait to get the sequel. One thousand cheers to Mr Follet for having ventured into terrain so different from his home.
    scott stambler. real name.

    23 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cora Judd California 02-26-08
    Cora Judd California 02-26-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    409
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    253
    37
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    FOLLOWING
    31
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    Overall
    "Altenative title suggestions:"

    How to Clean the Attic in 40 Hours

    or

    If You're Not Getting Any, Here's Some

    I came to Pillars directly from 2 Michael Chabon books, (Gentlemen of the Road, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay), and had Chabon's high-tone and fun stories winging through my mind. His writing has made my ear overly sensitive to the dissonant clang of Follet's script-like conversations and arms length approach to emotion (16 year old girl knifes an outlaw on the road to save herself and brother. Brother later says, "you're awfully grumpy." Brilliant).

    After the first of the violent rapes I figured Follet got "that" out of his system. But he never did. He rounded out the entire 40 hours with rapes and seductions of every buxom, curly haired brunette in the book. If you're a middle class white guy, you'll need a cigarette about every 2 chapters.

    The story itself was good enough. The Euclidean math and mason work and a general sense of medieval England and hierarchy of the Catholic Church was worth reading through.

    All the unfinished business getting wrapped up with a bow on top by the end gave a Hollywood feel to it.

    In the end, it was a good distraction for cleaning out the attic but I won't be recommending it to anyone looking for a "great" read.

    22 of 25 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    51
    11
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    5
    0
    Overall
    "One of the absolute best"

    Seriously...here is how good this book is, after I downloaded and listened to the audible book, I ran to the library and bought the print book just so that I could read it again with my eyes. The villians are as bad as bad can be and the hero and heroine are cheer-worthy. Great book.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Victoria Chilliwack, BC, Canada 05-16-08
    Victoria Chilliwack, BC, Canada 05-16-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    231
    35
    FOLLOWERS
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    4
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    Overall
    "good, but caveat..."

    this book was thoroughly captivating.
    however, there are definitely many "R-rated" parts.
    it is unfortunate, because my 15 year old daughter is fascinated with medieval history, and this book would be a great addition to her education, but I would never let her listen to it.
    there are parts whose images I still cringe at.
    the author is obviously skilled at creating characters, both normal people, heroes, and villains; however, in his effort to create particularly horrid villains, he describes in graphic sexual detail what he inflicts upon his victims. It's salacious, disgusting and gratuitous. I feel that the author takes too much pleasure in the descriptions, and is my only (but large) caveat for any reader.

    21 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenna Boston, Massachusetts, United States 11-26-11
    Jenna Boston, Massachusetts, United States 11-26-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
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    10
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    Performance
    Story
    "Way too long to be this boring"

    Thank goodness for a fantastic performance by the narrator-- it was almost the only saving grace for this 40-hour snoozer dotted with a handful of exciting scenes. Maybe I would have felt differently about the abridged version.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ilya MoscowRussian Federation 03-01-09
    Ilya MoscowRussian Federation 03-01-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    201
    2
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    1
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    Overall
    "Okish book"

    For me the book for interesting enough to listen to the end but I'm definitely not going to re-read or re-listen it again. To my taste the characters are somewhat one-dimensional and I often found parts of the plot somewhat unconvincing. There is too much of soap opera in this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jelica Vancouver, BC, Canada 05-28-08
    Jelica Vancouver, BC, Canada 05-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
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    209
    12
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    0
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    Overall
    "Overly simplistic and quite boring"

    I found it very difficult to get into this book. The descriptions are often unnecessarily too detailed and drawn out. The characters are either all good or all bad, and not much is left to readers` imagination. Felt like a waste of money and time.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Haynes thornhill, ON, Canada 05-26-08
    Haynes thornhill, ON, Canada 05-26-08

    Love sailing, private pilot, Home cooking. Lecturer in pharmacology of local anesthetics used in dentistry. (M.Sc. PharmD) CCPE

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    21
    3
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    0
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    Overall
    "Pillars of the earth."

    Ken Follet was consumed with weird painful sex and violence...far in excess needed to convey his passion for cathedral edifices and their construction. I was disappointed.

    Regards

    Haynes Darlington M.Sc. PharmD.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc St. Louis, MO, United States 11-27-07
    Marc St. Louis, MO, United States 11-27-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    39
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    10
    FOLLOWERS
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    2
    1
    Overall
    "Delightful characters & virtual Medieval England!"

    Five stars - An exception work of fiction. Compelling story and virtual tour of 13th century England. Follett really delivers with this masterpiece. My first review after more than 200 downloads. Don’t be put off by the length. You will be wishing it were even longer. Am ready to tackle World Without End next.



    34 of 40 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 01-31-08
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 01-31-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    135
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    425
    23
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    5
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    Overall
    "Great Listen except..."

    I really enjoyed listening to this book and found John Lee's performance to be engaging (as always). Great plot and i would have given it 5 stars except that there are many very explicit rape scenes in this book which were quite disturbing. The first two had a point but the rest were unnecessary in my opinion--I started to wonder if the author had a hidden facination with sexual violence because the rest of the violence in the book were not as explicit. If explicit rape scenes bother you, I wouldn't recommend this book (which is unfortunate because the rest of it is quite good).

    37 of 44 people found this review helpful
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