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Topic: Ken Follett Question

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Subject: Ken Follett Question
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,123
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I've come to the experts for an opinion!  My favorite resale shop has nice copies of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End for sale.  I never really read the summaries of these books before, but they sound kind of interesting, especially the sequel.  If any of you have read both of these books, can I just read the sequel without losing much?  Were they equally as good?  I think I'm a little more interested in the time period of the second, and considering how long the books are, I don't know if I'll be able to read both any time soon.  Does anyone have an opinion?

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 12:48 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
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Cue Cathy with a "Hell no, don't bother with Pillars!" in 5.....4....3...2.....1...... ;)

I've never read either, although I've had PofE on the TBR for years and years.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 1:12 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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I loathed Pillars. I'm at work so I'll comment more in detail when I get home.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 1:35 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I didn't loathe Pillars, but I was "meh" on it.  I enjoyed much of it, but unfortunately there was just too much.  The book just seemed to go on and on and on and on and the characters kept suffering and suffering and suffering.  It just kind of got tedious. I think the book had great potential, the author just got too verbose. 

I haven't read the sequel yet, but it's on my bookshelf. Apparently I was intrigued by the first one enough to acquire the second, but I've had it for along time now and haven't dived into it so . . .

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
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I really enjoyed Pillars. Maybe it had something to do with when I read it; what I had to compare to it; how discerning my reading tastes were at that time, etc., but I did enjoy it & have recommended it to others.

I don't participate in discussions about Pillars, as I read it as a Bookclub selection when it first came out (so, circa 1989) & am not inclined to reread it now just so I can speak intelligently on the subject.

If someone off the street asked me cold, "what do you remember about Pillars of the Earth?" My answer would be that it is about the building of a great cathedral set in a time in England before computers and modern machinery and heavy earth moving equipment & that it was fascinating to read about how some of our most beautiful & enduring architecture came to be built.

That is what I remember from my reading of Pillars.

Kelly

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Your could read one with out the other, Follett is a good enough story teller that he give you enough of the history of the families and the Cathedral that you don't need to read the first book.  Tedious is the word Shelley used and it fits.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,123
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Thanks for the opinions--I actually like some "tedious" books, if the subject matter interests me.  And I am actually somewhat interested in cathedral architecture, so maybe I would like Pillars.  I think I'll buy both books--for $1.50 each I can't go too far wrong!

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 4:08 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Diane - For $1.50, I would go for it. You can always probably swap them out here pretty easily.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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If you like fiction about the building of a cathedral, I highly recommend Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones. I enjoyed this book a lot and I look forward to reading more by this author - as fast as they can translate them from the Italian!

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2008
Posts: 4,035
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What's interesting is that Edith Parget wrote the Heaven Tree trilogy years before Pillars and surprise (!) it's about a master stone mason building a great cathedral. Pargeter's storytelling and writing is much better.

Kelly has an excellent point - if I'd never read Penman or EC I might have enjoyed it a lot more - but we'll never know. I found it horribly inaccurate, the characters cardboard cutouts yanked from the 20C and stuck in the medieval period. The violence is very graphic, as are several rape scenes. Even if I ignored that I found the story tedious as well and was skimming quite a bit to the bitter end.

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 7:25 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,390
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Must add a rousing endorsement for Edith Pargeter's Heaven Tree trilogy ... excellent in so many ways ... gives a wonderful broad expanse of the overall political environment of the time (England/Wales border area); great information re: architecture history, a beautiful love story (or two or three), a villain who somehow becomes a bit sympathetic by the end of it, mysteries, narrow escapes, deceit, betrayal ... what else does one need?

If there is any room on your wishlist or reminder list or any physical room on your bookshelves, grab up this wonderful trilogy! The books, in order are: The Heaven Tree, The Green Branch, The Scarlet Seed.

And, although I haven't read them yet, I understand her "Brothers of Gwynedd" books are equally good & highly regarded.

BTW, as most of you already know, Edith Pargeter is also Ellis Peters of the Brother Cadfael series.

Kelly



Last Edited on: 3/25/10 7:25 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 7:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,709
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I read listened to both books; World Without End takes place in the same town, but 200 years later.  You can easily read one without the other, but it's fun to do both.  I don't know if I would have stuck with it reading them, but I really enjoyed listening. 

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 7:49 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Is World Without End better than Pillars?  And more importantly is it a "book without end" like Pillars seemed to be after awhile?



Last Edited on: 3/25/10 7:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,451
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I enjoyed Pillars I think because I found the subject matter (catherdral building) so interesting.  I really didn't care much for the sequel; too much repetition of all the bad stuff (rapes etc) without the really interesting characters this time.



Last Edited on: 3/25/10 8:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/25/2010 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,123
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Well, when I went back to the store today and took a better look at both books, I decided to just get the sequel.  I kind of skimmed through several pages of each book and my impression was that I'd like the sequel better.  Plus, the sequel was in a nice hardcover version that looked brand new.

I also found a couple of other HF books that looked good (The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark and Roma by Steven Saylor).  And, a book called Kings, Queens, Bones and Bastards--Who's Who in the English Monarchy.  For liking most things British as much as I do, I'm just not that interested in Royalty--but I figured this book might come in handy in my future reading. 

Not bad for a total of six bucks, but considering that I've been unemployed for a while, I shouldn't be spending any money on yet more books!

Date Posted: 3/25/2010 8:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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Another "cathedral" book that I enjoyed is Margaret Ball's "A Bridge to the Sky".

Kat (polbio) -
Date Posted: 3/30/2010 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2008
Posts: 3,067
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I never read Pillars. I read WWE last year and all I can  say is it was kinda like a soap opera. It followed the lives of 4 people from childhood  on. Parts were interesting, and other parts you wanted to reach in a strangle the characters. I didnt find it tedious, but I did get annoyed with the never ending stupid desicions of one of the characters.  But no matter how I much it annoyed me, I couldnt put it down. I stayed up 24hours straight reading it. I just had to know what was going to happen next, lol.

With that said however, I have no intention of ever reading Pillars.