The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
If you ever wanted to use the words Epic and Classic in a book review, The Pillars of the Earth is a book that upholds that accolade. It is a truly fabulous masterpiece of historical fiction based in England in the 12th Century. The sense of time and place are vividly drawn and the fragility and harshness of life shadow each of the characters.
The array of characters are impressively developed, and with over 1000 pages in the novel, this becomes a generational journey spanning many decades and gives us a glimpse of how it was to grow and age in medieval England. Multiple threads tell the stories of individuals and families and their experiences of survival, jealousy, power and what life and neighbours can throw at them. All are explored with colourful detail, in an unforgiving period where right and wrong, and our sense of justice is tested to the limit.
The building of a cathedral at Kingsbridge is the cornerstone of this engrossing novel. It is a story that deals with the age-old battle of good versus evil, where evil manifests itself in men’s hearts and ambitions, and where better to play that out but in the sight of God’s holy church. How religious affiliation can bring out the principles of some men and the skulduggery of others. What good men are forced to do and what bad men are capable of doing.
With a book, this long, praise has to be given to the fact that the momentum of the story never faltered and after investing so much time within its engrossing pages, it is difficult to come to terms with normality when the book is finished. I would highly recommend reading this book and it does occupy a place on my favourites shelf.