Pillars of the Earth

Brian G Turner

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I am *really* enjoying this book. I've just come to a scene where there's a feast day and you see various games and entertainments being played, and it underlines a wonderful human colour in a book that feels truly Middle Ages.

There's been plenty of tension and drama - and, surprisingly, some of the POV characters have been very unsympathetic, not least William who is a terrible sadist, and haughty Aliena.

A few small niggles, but generally very well done - colourful characters, decent pace, and real sense of authenticity.

Despite the "historical fiction" label, it's centered in an entirely fictional place and could easily be labelled low-magic "historical fantasy". I wish I could read more fantasy like this.
 

tangaloomababe

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Bio droid I can highly recommend this book. From the very first line I was taken in and totally absorbed. When I first heard about it many many years ago now I thought nah but gave it a shot. the size of it was not off putting as I love a big book. give it a go.

So glad your enjoying it Brian. There is always a character in a book that you cannot sympathise with or don't particularly like, in Pillars it's William and his mother. Ailena grows on you trust me.


I've also read World without End and although the characters are descended from those Pillars characters, it's set some 200 years later so it sort of feels like returning to friends but not quite. Hard to explain. it's still a really good book in its own right but its not Pillars.


Much as I enjoyed the TV show, it didn't do justice to the book or really even come close, maybe I am being critical but its an awesome book.


I am actually on my third copy, one I lent and it was never returned, the second fell apart after to many reads, not just me reading them. So now I have a beautiful new copy.


I can rave and rave about this book, it's my fav!
 

Brian G Turner

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Finally finished this, and it's one of the most enjoyable stories I've read for a long time - I can see why it's got a wide appeal.

Am now watching the TV series on Netflix. :)
 

Glisterspeck

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I've watched both miniseries, and liked them, and though I bought the book, my god, it is huge...! Maybe I'll give it a chance, on your recommendation, but it'd take me a good six months to get through, I'm sure.
 

BenSt

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I am a huge fan of Ken Follett, I think he is a genius when it comes to writing. I first read World Without End having not heard of Pillars of the Earth previously, and what I loved was that the two books were not so interconnected that you felt lost.

I always found it peculiar how much sex is in his work though, it's a recurring theme. Despite it's size though I enjoyed every moment, although I did read it over a month period. I didn't much like what they did with the miniseries though, both series were just too far from the books.
 

Brian G Turner

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Unfortunately, I didn't much enjoy World Without End.

There was too much pettiness and vindictiveness than ran through the story. And while Pillars of the Earth had a grand idea to centre everything around - the new cathedral - World Without End lacked that. Instead all the arguments are about inheritance rights for fields, and a new bridge for Kingsbridge.

Rather than constantly fighting the Priory, I wondered why the disaffected merchants didn't simply relocate to Shiring, which by all accounts remained prosperous. I couldn't understand why these characters felt compelled to remain in Kingsbridge, or felt a claim over the town.

There was also too much reliance on Caris and Merthin being descendants of Alienna and Jack. Alienna had her annoying moments, but we saw her change and develop. Caris never really seemed to go through that - she just came across as cold and haughty for much of the book with little to justify her.

There was just a lack of a grand idea to unify everything here, and the letter that Thomas protected felt like a weak attempt at creating a royal mystery to follow that used in Pillars of the Earth, but didn't really work IMO.

When the plague hits I found genuinely interesting, especially the after effects.

But, overall, I found the story went on too long, about people we didn't care enough about, and the pettiness of some of the arguments gave the story a soap opera feel - conflict for the sake of it, rather than to drive an interesting premise.
 

lauren$77

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I agree it certainly went on too long! I never read Pillars of the Earth only watched it on tv so can't make the same comparisons. I thought the lusty Gwenda was probably the most interesting character in the book.

I agree that the royal mystery was a bit of an anti-climax, I wasn't really that interested in whether the far removed queen had killed the king or not (that was the jist of the letter wasn't it - ha I've already forgotten).

I don't think the merchants could simply up and leave to Shiring though! I mean they have property in Kingsbridge - Oh but what would I know. I did like Caris, but found hers and Mertins relationship frustrating, were they ever going to get together. It became tiresome in the end, and I didn't much care.

Still I did enjoy the book, perhaps its just as well I didn't read Pillars of the Earth :)
 

Brian G Turner

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Pillars of the Earth is a very enjoyable book - the problem is that World Without End is a pale shadow that re-uses some elements without ever catching up with the first story.

The TV series of Pillars of the Earth is good - but diverts too much from the original story by trying to create grandiose villains which were never a feature of the book. Also invents too many things that challenge believability, that were never a feature of the Follet book. The TV series starts well, but becomes increasingly a caricature, rather than representation, of the story.
 
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