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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 (19896 )
5 star
 (13896)
4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
4.6 (11792 )
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
4.7 (11735 )
5 star
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4 star
 (1929)
3 star
 (377)
2 star
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1 star
 (99)
Performance
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  •  
    Juneisy Homestead, FL, United States 08-05-13
    Juneisy Homestead, FL, United States 08-05-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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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.


    7 of 8 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
    ratings
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    1
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    Performance
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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
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    94
    18
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    2
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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 12-21-09
    Cassie 12-21-09 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    54
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    179
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    Dave Riverhead, NY, USA 11-19-07
    Dave Riverhead, NY, USA 11-19-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    157
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    10
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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 31 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09
    Brie McQueeney, TX, USA 02-24-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    72
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    51
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    5
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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
    19
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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 2017

    Legalu

    HELPFUL VOTES
    43
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    478
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    Overall
    "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
  •  
    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
    8
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    "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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward OR, OR, USA 02-22-08
    Edward OR, OR, USA 02-22-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    17
    6
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    "Murphy's Law"

    This book should have a special tribute to Murphy. If anything can possible go wrong, it does. It is almost depressing. I enjoy books that are uplifting and make me feel good; this one is the opposite. I'm only about 17 hours into the book and I'm just not sure if I can stick it out.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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