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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings


  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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  • Overall
  • Wendy
  • Ashburnham, MA, USA
  • 11-22-08


Ken Follett never fails to keep my attention in bringing history alive. Very long book but well worth the time. Loved the 14th century characters in the story; his weaving of the place of religion, medical knowledge, social status during that time period was very well done and kept my attention throughout.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Hope
  • fort worth , TX, USA
  • 11-20-08


Hour after hour,the story created a personal bond with the people so you find yourself always bonding,and sharing there visions.Early times were hard,but these people in the story had so much drive,to accomplish there dreams,from good, to evil,love to hate,pain and joy,you will go back in time and be brought right into this book,World without end, is a must listen after this one...enjoy! I loved them both

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Caily
  • California
  • 11-18-08

A Must Listen!

I wasn't sure that I would enjoy this book, but I was persuaded by the reviews and am so glad I did. This is definitely my new favorite!

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Pillars of the Earth

For my first experience with Ken Follett, I was intrigued and felt like a child again, I was hungrily anticipating the next "scene" and fascinated by his magnificent descriptive abilities, usually I stay away from fiction but I gave this a try and am ecstatic that I did.
I am a convert and now a fan.
I can not wait to delve into more of his remarkable writing.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amberlyn
  • Centerville, VI, USA
  • 11-12-08

Loved The Narrator and Story, But Buyer Beware

I absolutely loved this audiobook, the story was great. The narrator was fabulous. Buyer beware that there are quite a few elicit sex scenes that I didn't care for so I fast forwarded through those parts.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • DJ
  • Phoenix, MD, United States
  • 10-05-08

Just gotta get this one

I RARELY write a reveiw . . . but I just had to write one here. I'm not usually much of a Ken Follett fan . . . but this book was OUTSTANDING! Simply put - you GOTTA read this one. It is amazing how interesting the plot was for a story about a monk trying to build a church. There were times when I'd circle the block a time or two before pulling into the drive just so I could hear more! djv

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Simply exhillerating

This is the kind of audiobook that will have you carrying your iPod from car to workout to house (getting ready in the morning, cooking, etc.) because you want to listen to it constantly. It's a very long book and a great value, but more importantly, its length allows you get to know the interconnected characters, learn a lot about life in medieval England, and even learn about the building of a great cathedral.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great Entertainment

I've been listening to audio books for more than 30 years. This is one of - if not the best book I've acquired. The narrator is first rate indeed - easy to understand, captivating voice. The book is nearly spellbinding. My wife and I could hardly wait to get home in the evening to get our two hours in each night. We listened during a long drive to Charlotte, NC and it made the trip somehow shorter. Wonderful characters, engaging storyline (even if the plot gets a bit contrived) and some historical figures and events thrown in as well. This is Medieval Europe - and especially England - at its most miserable. Excellent glimpse into the seedy court politics of the time. The cathedral building thread ties it all together. Wonderful, exciting and fascinating.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Phil
  • New River, AZ, USA
  • 09-20-08

This book is a classic

I am unable to say enough good things about this book!

I first read it in paperback 15 - 16 years ago. Maybe the thing I like about it is the way its written & presented. There are no profane words in this book (the hallmark to me of a classic timeless book), unlike The Amber Room (another audiobook pop fiction on here, I mistakely downloaded).

The story is intriguing (I won't go into the plot, as this is unecessary as its given in other places).

A lot of it is a narrative (as you would be listening to a great storyteller in person), instead of the audiobook's male narrator struggling to become a woman's voice, or other such nonsense.

It is about 70% narrative (reading in third person perspective), 30% the narrator has to do some other voices.

This book actually will even teach you some things about this time period. I saw a Discovery channel presentation on this era, recently, 8/08 (had to watch it after hearing this book), and Ken Follett has followed factual history.

I give this book an A+ (ditto A+ on World Without End).

There is another book read by John Lee, Pompeii which is also very good. I give it a B+, only because it is much shorter than either ones of the aforementioned.

If this is the type of book you are looking for (rather than a quick pop fiction read), this is timeless!

I'd give it 6 stars if I could.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A very captivating book

It's not a page turner like Brown's Angels And Demons.
But Pillars of the Earth is exciting in another fashion.
The story just slowly evolves. It's a bliss to the reader not always being presented to the "end of the world "as the ultimate result of the "good-guys" failure and that everything is not always happening in a 60 min span.
Big problems on a small scale is what this book is concerned about. And the author takes his time (without being dull!) to present the situation, the action and the solution.
That is what makes it so enjoyable.

That, and because it is well written.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful