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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

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  •  
    Shane Smiths Falls, ON, Canada 08-29-10
    Shane Smiths Falls, ON, Canada 08-29-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    "A nice diversion"

    Well written and it held by my interest throughout. I also enjoyed the narrator. I enjoyed learning about the art and history of cathedral building, and the general overview of this era in British history.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregg Indianapolis, IN, United States 08-22-10
    Gregg Indianapolis, IN, United States 08-22-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    10
    8
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    2
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    "Don't be dissuaded by negative reviewers"

    I first read this book in hard-cover nearly 20 years ago, and was compelled due the recent mini-series based on it to get the audio version. I loved it then and still love it. It is one of my favorite books. Yes, it is long. Yes, there are some archetypal figures -- the underdog who makes good, the evil bishop, the salt-of-the-earth mason, the "princess" brought low who fights back. Some claim it isn't true "historical fiction". Well, not if you compare to something like the "The Killer Angels". Instead it is a more a good story set in the backdrop of historical events and at a certain period of history. You learn a bit about the history of the The Anarchy, but that is merely the setting. Some claim it is too romantic, and I have never found that to be the case. There is romance to be sure, but I am hardly a fan that genre and have never viewed it as the pervading theme. There are even those that claim the book lacks morality, either due to the violent depicted or the author's proclaimed lack of faith. I disagree. It was a violent age and depictions of it only underscore what was common then. As for the author’s faith, it doesn’t matter. Follett has given us a many moral and admirable figures (even as a non-Catholic, I wish I knew a clergyman as wise and devout as Prior Philip).

    This is a story that anyone could relate to. True the characters are very clearly drawn for the most part. But is their struggles through life in what to us is a primitive period is what is compelling. It is historical fiction, but it also draws on our 20th-21st century sensibilities. There are brutal depictions of torture, violence and rape, but not for gratuitousness. It serves to show the fragility of life and hardships that those in that age had to endure. I can only imagine the hardships my own ancestors had to endure 900 years ago in order for me to be here today.

    At its core, Pillars is about people and survival. The good. And the bad. They exist in any age. S

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 08-11-10
    Matt OVERLAND PARK, KS, United States 08-11-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    72
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    "a pure masteriece"

    Do not pay attention to the reviews giving this book one and two stars. This book was very very good. This was my second Follett book (A Dangerous Fortune) and I have loved both of them. While it is very long at over 40 hours I found that it went quickly and I wanted to listen at every chance I had. I am looking forward to grabbing another one of his very soon. Cliff Lee is a marvelous narrator; he brings the characters to life like no one I have ever heard.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    JEFF FORT SMITH, AR, United States 08-05-10
    JEFF FORT SMITH, AR, United States 08-05-10 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    "The Pillars of the Earth"

    This book is a finely crafted epic that weaves its way thru the Dark Ages in an interesting and smart way, informing us, enlightening us, and entertaining us. The author weaves the story of three generations of ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things, most notably building a cathedral and establishing a town, where none before existed. As an architect, I found the building techniques accurate and well detailed. The author illuminated for me the behind the scenes workings of construction projects of the time, which are humorously similar to some of situations today's builing projects face. The pace of the book never dragged for me, although it is very long; one should consider the time investment required to finish it. The narrator was a perfect fit and did well with the terms and accents. I highly recommend this book to all mature listeners. I think I'll try another Follett offering to see how it compares since I so enjoyed this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donna San Francisco, CA, USA 07-09-10
    Donna San Francisco, CA, USA 07-09-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
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    50
    2
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    "Poor Choice for an Audiobook"

    Ripping yarn, but the story doesn't lend itself to listening. Would be more enjoyable as a good, long read.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ricardo H. D. Kovach 06-27-10 Listener Since 2009
    ratings
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    54
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    Overall
    "EXCELLENT"

    More then 40 hours of pleasure.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. M. Lucas Indiana, USA 06-04-10
    R. M. Lucas Indiana, USA 06-04-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Can't wait for it to end"

    The villains are basically Disney cartoon characters. The characters like vaguely like 1980s yuppies, using slightly archaic but still anachronistic language. On rare occasions where they express foreign and potentially intriguing ideas, like celibacy or a fear of hell, Follett doesn't have anything interesting for them to say.

    There are a few nice plot points, but most every development is telegraphed far in advance. The writing is heavy-handed and makes everything too obvious. There is a warmth to the writing, and several likable characters, and I got about 20 hours in before I realized how bad it was. Now I've got only 4 hours to go.

    3 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kim Landenberg, PA, USA 05-16-10
    Kim Landenberg, PA, USA 05-16-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
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    "Pillars of the Earth"

    OMG. This was a fantastic book. I was not sure what to expect since this was my first audio book, but John Lee was wonderful narrating. I wanted to jump into the story because you felt like you were there with them. You really need to take a listen.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-12-10
    Carol Las Vegas, NV, United States 05-12-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    59
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    Overall
    "You will enjoy this book!"

    It is like reading three books in one but you don't have to wait to read the next installment. The story was interesting and though I was skeptical about a book based on building a cathedral it was the characters you cared about. It was somewhat frustrating the constant problems the characters faced but it did keep me reading. It was well worth the 40 hours!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucinda 05-10-10
    Lucinda 05-10-10 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
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    15
    5
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    "A delightful book"

    Listening to this book is entirely enjoyable. A compelling story filled with all sorts of interesting historical details. You will cherish the hours that you spend with this book, and will hate to see it end.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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