Thursday, July 18, 2019

Book Review: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)

Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Ok so there's a much more detailed description of the book that you can get if you click on the Goodreads link, but I'm just putting what I knew about the book going into it here, because I think that's the best way to do it. Middle Ages people building a cathedral plus political and religious intrigue and suspense. That's really all you need to know.

Writing
This is my first Ken Follett, but it definitely won't be my last. I was very pleased with the writing, particularly the depth that went into creating the characters and their stories. There's a lot of architectural detail and, I'm not going to lie, at a certain point I started skimming that. I knew I wouldn't be able to visualize it without in depth research and architecture is just not my thing. That said, the real treasure of the book is found in its characters and their interactions with each other. While the plot is certainly important (and not slowly paced), the characters just shine so bright it's hard to focus on anything else.

Entertainment Value
This goes on the "couldn't put it down" list for me. I read it for hours on end - and it'll take hours on end because it's approximately 1000 pages long. As long as it is, I never once felt like it needed to be cut short in any way. Even the lengthy descriptions of architecture (that I somewhat skimmed) felt like they belonged in the story. The only time I felt compelled to put it down was when I was too physically tense to keep reading or when I was crying too hard to see the pages.

Overall
Yes, yes, yes. Read this book. I'd give it a comparison to Game of Thrones in setting, characterization, and intrigue, but sans dragons and magic. You'll be seeing this on my best of the year list for absolute sure. I've got the next one already lined up on my Kindle waiting to be read!

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