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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 (17369 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (1059)
2 star
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1 star
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Overall
4.6 (9439 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Story
4.7 (9379 )
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
 (93)
Performance
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  •  
    Dave Riverhead, NY, USA 11-19-07
    Dave Riverhead, NY, USA 11-19-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't let the 40 hours scare you"

    I have to admit that I was hesitant to buy a book that was 40 hours about monks building a cathedral in the 12th century. This book came highly recommended and that is why I bought it. I am glad that I did. It was great. It was masterfully written with great characters and a plot that always kept you guessing. The first hour or so was a bit slow, but after that I found myself sitting in the car waiting for the chapter to end before I got out.
    I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or just a wonderfully written story. My only concern at this point is that i do not think that WWE will live up to this book.

    25 of 30 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joyce hendersonville, NC, USA 11-27-07
    Joyce hendersonville, NC, USA 11-27-07 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "good listen"

    My only criticism is that the book is perhaps a bit too long. Not a lot too long...just a bit. There was a time towards the end that I felt it dragged. This is a wonderful example of historical fiction at it's best. Well researched, I learned a lot about the day to day life of 12th century England. The author manages to involve the characters in important historical events of the time. I recommend highly.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joshua Kring 07-05-15 Member Since 2016

    The least helpful reviewer on audible.

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    "Not bad at all."

    At nearly 41 hours in length a book about monks building a cathedral seems very daunting and a huge gamble to spend a credit on. Plus, several years ago I tried listening to an audio book by Ken Follett (I can't remember which one or even what it was about) and I couldn't get into it and gave up about a quarter of the way through it. So, The Pillars of the Earth spent a lot of time on my wish list before I gave it a chance.

    What kept me from deleting it from the wish list and finally breaking down and buying it is two fold; 1) it got great reviews on audible, and 2) I've always been intrigued by the idea of monastic life. I know it sounds silly, but I often daydream about what it might be like to spend all day everyday praying and studying and gardening and meditating without the worries and rigors of modern life.

    This was a long book, but the story covers four decades in the characters lives and there are not a whole lot of really big jumps in time. It is about the building of the Kingsbridge Cathedral, but there's a lot more to it than that. There's wars and famines and people struggling to gain and keep power. There's relationships that intertwine in strange ways, and there's a lot of sex.

    This brings me to my first criticism...

    Now, I'm not a prude. I don't mind graphic sex scenes if they're done right and make the characters seem more real and interesting. However, in this book there are a lot of sex scenes and they don't always seem necessary. In fact, a few of them made me uncomfortable. I'm not talking about the rape scenes either. There are several of those too, but they make the villainous people seem more evil, and lay the groundwork for the motivations of the victims. It's the needlessly graphic sex that permeates a large portion of the book that had me rolling my eyes.

    All in all this is a solid four star book with five star narration. It was very long and I may need to take a break before trying the sequel, but I probably will in a few months.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Eugene, OR 07-24-13
    Amazon Customer Eugene, OR 07-24-13 Listener Since 2005

    Professional Quilter

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    "Wish I'd listened when a refund was still possible"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A friend recommended this book to me because she knows that I enjoy history and historical fiction. I was appalled at the cruelty and malice in the book, about which I began to imagine that Follett really enjoyed writing. Yes, life was not gentle back in this period, but the rapes and the animal blood baths were over-written and so unnecessary.


    Has The Pillars of the Earth turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No - I will still read other historical fiction, but I doubt that I will ever read another novel by Follett.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    The reader did a good job.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    I found very little in this book to love. Some of the historical notes on cathedral construction were a bit interesting, but otherwise, nothing could make up for the violence. I am generally not squeamish, but this was over the top.


    Any additional comments?

    It should be noted that I did not finish this book. I tried. Seriously, I tried. I even tried to skip over some of the gratuitous violence, but I just couldn't do it. Very rarely has a book turned me off so totally.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 01-18-13
    Sarah 01-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Disapointed"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone less offened by the heavy-handed use of female characters.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Zorba the Greek


    Have you listened to any of John Lee’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not listened to any, but I thought the performance was excellent. I would be happy to listen to him again.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Pillars of the Earth?

    I thought that the many rape scenes became both more gratitious and unecessary as the book progressed. It seemed the Follett came to rely on rape as a literary device whenever the plots began to dwindel. I found it dissapointing, as in many ways the book was quite interesting; however I think his havy handed use of rape to move the plot along became both offensive and tiersome--espechially in a novel centered on the building of a church.


    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cassie Melnikow 12-21-09 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not what I'd expected"

    I was searching on Amazon for good historical novels and found this continually referenced. Due to that and its sequel World Without End being on sale, I decided to get both. Ken Follett primarily writes "beach read thrillers" as I call them. While his are revered among those books, that isn't my preferred genre but this book was supposed to be great historical fiction. This book wasn't far above a beach thriller in a historical setting. While the story line was interesting and I found myself drawn in by the characters, much of the story didn't match its setting. Many plot twists and characters seemed more suited to the 21st century than the 12th, as if forcing the story into a historical context somehow made it more intellectual. There were also several plots twists I saw coming from miles away, and had to wait until the book revealed them 2 hours later. Due to all the praise this book received, I was expecting something more thought provoking and memorable. Pillars of the Earth was decent enough for me to listen to the sequel; however if I hadn't already purchased it, I'm not sure I would be.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Washington, DC, United States 02-12-09
    Karen Washington, DC, United States 02-12-09 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Don't give up . . . outstanding"

    While I'm not a huge Oprah fan (I don't think I've ever watched her show), the Oprah's book club isn't a bad place to start when looking for good novels to read (or listen to). As dull as the description of this one sounded (I'm really not into historical dramas), I gave it a chance mostly because of the Oprah recommendation AND because it was ridiculously long (at 40 hours). I have become addicted to audiobooks (the longer the better) because of a very long commute. I admit this is a slow start one--a little too much background to cover before the real story can begin--but don't give up. A few hours in, you are HOOKED. This is the kind of audiobook that you arrive at your destination and sit in the car a little while because you just CAN'T turn it off. Historically accurate (although with definite dramatic license), occasionally uncomfortably graphic and sexual for some tastes, but very, very good character development. You get to KNOW these people, and care deeply about then.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kimeleon Northville, MI USA 01-06-08
    kimeleon Northville, MI USA 01-06-08 Member Since 2011

    kimeleon

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic Historical Fiction"

    I just finished reading this book and I have to say that it is one of my FAVORITE books ever.

    I have no idea how Ken Follett was able to tie so many threads together to build a magnificent tapestry which tells a historical but fictional account of the lives of several families in the early 12th century, but he has done it masterfully. I have a better understanding of how difficult their lives were and the perils they faced in their daily lives from greedy Land owners, corrupt and inept Kings and Queens, and treachery of those who were supposed to give them spiritual guidance.

    I found it interesting that many of the concerns they faced are still faced by young people and families, governments and even religious institutions today.

    I just can't wait to read his next book!

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    I love audiobooks KS 11-08-07 Member Since 2016

    Legalu

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Pillars of the Earth"

    I have over 250 audiobooks in my library. This is by far the best book to which I have listened. It has all the elements that make a book exceptional. John Lee's reading makes you feel you are right there in medieval England. The characters are so real I never wanted the story to end. How lucky I am there is a sequel.

    17 of 21 people found this review helpful

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