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The Pillars of the Earth Audiobook

The Pillars of the Earth

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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 (17378 )
5 star
 (11859)
4 star
 (3765)
3 star
 (1059)
2 star
 (365)
1 star
 (330)
Overall
4.6 (9448 )
5 star
 (6663)
4 star
 (1918)
3 star
 (531)
2 star
 (174)
1 star
 (162)
Story
4.7 (9388 )
5 star
 (7207)
4 star
 (1679)
3 star
 (328)
2 star
 (81)
1 star
 (93)
Performance
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  •  
    Victoria 05-16-08
    Victoria 05-16-08 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    95
    ratings
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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.

    30 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Juneisy Homestead, FL, United States 08-05-13
    Juneisy Homestead, FL, United States 08-05-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Mediocre at best"
    Would you try another book from Ken Follett and/or John Lee?

    John Lee, yes; Ken Follett, no.


    What was most disappointing about Ken Follett’s story?

    I had high hopes for this book, but I was sorely disappointed pretty early on. The characters are one-dimensional; the baddy is always bad, the goody is always good, the cunning is always cunning, etc. None of the bad characters have any redeeming qualities and the good are good to a fault. No one is like this in real life, which makes it very difficult to relate to the characters. The plot was just generally boring, the repeated misfortune and spoils of the characters got old, the building-not building- building again, lather rinse repeat got really old, really quickly. Everything about the story was predictable and the end was extremely anticlimactic and, yes, predictable. How pedestrian.


    What character would you cut from The Pillars of the Earth?

    Thomas Becket. This storyline was completely superfluous and added nothing to the story. William could have been hanged for some other crime, it's not like he was lacking in that department.


    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cate P 05-09-08
    Cate P 05-09-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    51
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    43
    14
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    Overall
    "Errr, uhhh!"

    Most of the forty hours I spent listening to this book I amused myself by planning what I would say about it. It wasn't bad enough to stop, but it's a bit of a slog. The characters are moderately interesting and there's some history, but it's a soap opera - good guys and bad guys duking it out - over and over and over. I kept thinking, "enough already!". Truly, it's one struggle after another, some graphic and disturbing violence. The prose was basic, the story only moderately interesting and very repetitive (ie. the bad guy raped and pillaged his way through the book which got old), and the end didn't ring my cathedral bells. Kind of a set up for the next long book. The one stellar fact is that the narration is outstanding.

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cora Judd 02-26-08
    Cora Judd 02-26-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    512
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    38
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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.

    28 of 32 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 12-08-07
    Scott culver City, CA, USA 12-08-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    48
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    5
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    3
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    "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.

    26 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc St. Louis, MO, United States 11-27-07
    Marc St. Louis, MO, United States 11-27-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    32
    10
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    2
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    "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.



    36 of 42 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jelica 05-28-08
    Jelica 05-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    42
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    210
    12
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    "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
  •  
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 01-31-08
    Shaddi Laguna Niguel, CA, United States 01-31-08 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    170
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    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).

    48 of 57 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike From Mesa 03-28-12 Member Since 2015

    MikeFromMesa

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very surprised"

    The difference between reading a paper book and listening to an Audible title was brought home to me when I listened to this book.

    Years ago, before I joined Audible, I read this book in its paper format and remember telling myself that Ken Follett should stick to World War II spy stories because this book was just boring.

    When I saw it available on Audible I had no desire to listen to it, but finally, after seeing all the praise, I relented and bought it. The one good thing was that I was so bored with the paper book that I remembered nothing of the story line. Listening to it was a revelation. How I could have been bored by such an interesting story with such interesting characters still baffles me, but I thoroughly enjoyed listening and expect to order the sequel. The only negative thing I can say is that the characterization of William as such a thoroughly evil man seemed a bit overdone. Each subsequent villainous act seemed unnecessary and some were difficult for me to listen to.

    I still continue to be amazed at how differently I view the physical book and the Audible version. Perhaps it was because of the wonderful job that John Lee did in narrating the book, or perhaps I was just not in the proper frame of mind of a large scope book like this when I originally read it, but this is a wonderful book and I recommend it without reservation.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 07-31-08
    Bonnie Bellmore, NY, United States 07-31-08 Member Since 2013

    BJS

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1924
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    292
    5
    Overall
    "A dark view of the dark ages"

    If you are looking for light reading, go else where. If you are a history buff, and can deal with the horror of England in it's dark age, this is for you evil and goodness at every level. I enjoyed every word of this unique story. Brilliant.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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