Pillars of the Earth; Ken Follett
I've been meaning to read this book for about 10 years now---has that ever happened to you?
Well, I finally took the plunge, by reading and listening to this book. Nearly 1,000 pages in print and 32 discs, unabridged audio version, this epic novel was well worth the time I spent. The prologue alone, hooked me immediately. For those of you who still haven't read this novel, this is how the prologue began.....
"The small boys came early to the hanging.
It was still dark when the first three or four of them sidled out of the hovels, quiet as cats in their felt boots. A thin layer of fresh snow covered the little town like a new coat of paint, and theirs were the first footprints to blemish its perfect surface. They picked their way through the huddled wooden huts and along the streets of frozen mud to the silent market-place, where the gallows stood waiting.
The boys despised everything their elders valued. They scorned beauty and mocked goodness. They would hoot with laughter at the sight of a cripple, and if they saw a wounded animal they would stone it to death. They boasted of injuries and wore their scars with pride, and they reserved their special admiration for mutilation: a boy with a finger missing could be their king. They loved violence; they would run miles to see bloodshed; and they never missed a hanging."
Set in 12th century England, Ken Follett has woven a rich and colorful story of people, places and events. The story spans a period of fifty years, and for the most part revolves around the building of a wondrous Gothic Cathedral in the destitute township of Kingsbridge, after the former dilapidated church burns to the ground.
Some of the central characters are: Tom, a master builder, Aliena, a beautiful noblewoman and daughter of the fallen Earl, Brother Philip, Prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, an artist and stone mason, Eileen, a forest woman who can cast spells. Other characters include, monks, bishops, craftsmen, peasants, soldiers and noblemen --this book has it all. The characters are complex and memorable, and as a reader ,I felt fully transported to another place and time. The author's attention to detail, allows you to wrap yourself up in the characters and their lives. Pillars of the Earth is a brilliant epic tale that tells of love, war, politics, and even torture and death. I was sorry to see this one end. I hope to get a copy of the sequel, World Without End soon. The reader of the audio version, John Lee, was excellent, and I highly recommend both reading and listening to this novel for maximum pleasure.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - 5/5 stars
(Library audio and personal print copy)
I tend to read multiple books at the same time, so this one took me nearly a month to finish.