This book looks long, but it draws you in and makes you want to know what happens next, so you'll find yourself finding a spare minute to read every chance you get. Great character development, and the author follows characters for many years. A story that gets you involved, along with some historical aspects of cathedral building. I enjoyed it immensely!
This book is very well written, but it is an epic tale with 983 pages. My husband and I read it together on a road trip (he drives, I read aloud). He would make excuses to go places in the car after we arrived at our destination just so we could continue the book! It is set in the 12th century, but "touches all human emotion---love and hate, loyalty and treachery, hope and despair." The characters are very real and touchable, and it draws you right into their world.
This was a captivating and vividly depicted novel of medieval England. Forget that the main theme is the building of a cathedral- this is a book about the personalities, relationships and history behind that beautiful piece of architecture!I loved this story.
A really good read. I only just picked it up despite its being originally published almost 20 years ago and it kept my interest throughout, all 900 plus pages. No romanticizing past times here, just the raw data and descriptions of 12th century life as it was...a continuous struggle to meet even the most basic needs. The corruption of the church, the tenuous reign of Kings, and relationships within the classes is all depicted. Then we get to learn how these magnificent cathedrals were really built. The craftsmen and workers each have their story. Depressing at times? yes, but that's because Follett pulls you in to caring about the lead characters, feeling their anguish and rejoicing in their brief moments of joy.
This is one of my all-time favorite books. After reading the jacket, I didn't think I'd like it because it's not my usual fare. But once I started it, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I loved everything about it and still think about the main characters....
One of my all time favorite books. This is the book which piqued my interest in the hundred year war of England period. Great charachter development, I feel like this is an epic movie I have watched a dozen times.
One of my favorite books! I had read it when it first came out; just listened to it on tape to get ready for his new book. 26 tapes! Unbelievable! Totally different from his other books; an historical novel set in the 12th (I think) century, focused on the building of cathedrals. The next book, just published, is the sequel. Fascinating!
I've heard so many people just rant and rave over this one, but i personally could not get into it. It requires some patience to get the storyline rolling, and i like to get the plot rolling immediately. Do not let this description sway you!
Sex, scandal, and scheming meet religion, history, and architecture. It seemed an unlikely pairing to me, but I found the book a compelling, quick read despite its length. There are a lot of characters, but keeping track of them is surprisingly easy, and the ways that their paths cross is very interesting and often unexpected.
One of my favorite books of all time. Totally different genre from any other Follett book I'd ever read. Pretty much follows one family of builders as the main character is involved in the building of a great cathedral. Learned a great deal about living in that day and how great buildings were put together before the advent of modern machinery.
This is the absolute best book I have ever read. Set in 12th century England around the building of a cathedral, this story will keep you up late at night. You will come to love some of the characters and hate others -- I mean really hate them. At one point I nearly threw the book against the wall I was so mad.
This is a long book, and I was sad when it was over. I had to wait several years before Ken Follett came out with the sequel World Without End. While not as good as Pillars, it was great to go back to Kingsbridge.
All I can say is: Get this book -- you'll love it.
I just turned the last page and am sitting here thinking back on this absolutely marvelous story. It's a great story of good vs. evil in the middle ages with a cast of monks, priests, earls, builders and two very solid female figures that struggle, prevail, cry, love, hate, fight and live this epic story. Very graphic and descriptive of what it must've been like to live in the middle ages.
I read this many years ago and enjoyed every minute. I am a historical fiction buff, but the human emotions and themes are timeless. I just purchased a copy for my husband to read and then got the sequel for myself to read on an upcoming long plane ride.
this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction.
A great read sometimes requires a great deal of detail and reality. Follett delivers in quantity in this, my favorite KF novel. Also one my all time favorites by any author. He delivers a "feel" for the time period that no amount of non-fiction reading can give.
I was prompted to read the book by a religious book critic who stated it's a wonderful read to learn about the building of great cathedrals. Though I admit I learned about some architectural and carpentry techniques, the immorality and rape that spawned revenge throughout the book took a lot away from the beautiful story of getting the cathedral built. I enjoyed more learning about
the running of monasteries in the Middle Ages and the feudal battles that raged when the royal line was in question. A looooong
book and I put it down many times and took a few days off from it to read other things.
Truthfully, I didn't finish it because it felt like soooo much work. A lot of architectural detail that many readers might love, but I'm a plot/character kind of girl who doesn't like to waste page after page on the detailed cathedral descriptions. Good book, from what I read, but not, in my opinion, an easy read.
The jacket was right...this is "a great epic tale". Although it took a while to get rolling, the plot was interesting and exciting - and I loved how the individual character's stories all weaved together around the building of the central cathedral.
My only negative comment is that the book as a whole is more depressing than I generally like to read. The characters were richly developed, relatable, and were put through so much suffering that it was hard to not put the book down in frustration. A little spoiler here...but even in the end, when you expect the evil characters to finally get what is coming to them, you're disappointed. More realistic maybe, but I was expecting a happier ending.
I read this book twenty yeears ago when it was first published and loved it then. When Oprah chose it for her book club I was surprised because I thought she only selected "current" books; it wa such a pleasant surprise to see her choose this one.
The story of the struggles it took to build the cathedrals of Europe is magnificent! In our modern age, we rarely think about how difficult it was to accomplish feats such as these in the Middle ages. Ken Follett has takrn an incredible journey to the times and places of the cathedrals. The research which must have gone into this book is almost beyond belief, and then to tell the story in such a way as to make you feel like you were there -- what can I say?
Wanted to read this again to compare it to the mini series. Same premise different presentation. Forgotten how thick this book is but it is supposed to cover many years of the lives of the characters and the building of the cathedral. If you love history this is a great book to read. A lot of research went into this work of fiction and can hold your interest.
The Pillars of the Earth describes a story that is larger than life. All the trappings of medieval twelfth century life in England are depicted. The story includes wild battle scenes, hangings, morality plays, serfdom, courtly and monastic life painted with Follett's broad brush. The political intrigue of the period and the fracture between the church and the state, king and archbishop, rule of law and the rule of God are seen here.
This book contains unforgettable characters like Aliena, the beautiful and penniless daughter of an Earl; Thomas Becket, the priest turned martyr; pious, but ambitious Philip the prior of Kingsbridge whose desire to build a cathedral for the "glory of God" is overwhelming; William Hamleigh, displaced earl, is truly evil. Although long, the book is remarkable to read, with fast paced action and gripping, believable dialogue. The story will leave you breathless and satisfied in its stunning conclusion.
I'm a history buff and have ready a lot of books about English history. This was an interesting interweaving of mediaeval history and the emerging architecture of grand European cathederals. It kept me interested throughout although I had to skip some passages due to the graphic violence.
I think it was a very fair depiction of the era, and helped me better understand the rivalry between the church and state that eventually lead to Henry VIII's dismantling of the monastic system (and Catholic church in England for that matter) centuries later....
This is so different than the other Ken Follett novels but was an amazing read. I'm finding it hard to post it on my bookshelf because I loved it so much. At nearly 1000 pages, it is a bit daunting but once you start reading, I believe it's really hard to put down. LOVED it!
Ken Follett is a very good writer but why he chose to write such a downer of a book is beyond me. I loved the characters, the feel of the time in history where this story takes place, and the characterization is pretty good overall.
Spoiler alert about plot follows but it is important to note:
But, the main characters suffer so much and never 'get back' at their oppressors. That may be true in real life but I should as heck don't want to suffer through so many pages only to learn that the good guys get so screwed. That ruined this book for me and I really am not sure why as I don't need all of the books I read to have the hero win. But for some reason, this really ticked me off about this book so I cannot recommend it.
I received this as a gift and gave it my best shot but failed. Last night, after having gotten to about the middle of the book, I realized that I wasn't enjoying it and really didn't care about finding out what happened next. So, uncharacteristically for me, I decided not to finish it and post it instead. I'm no prude, but some of the sadder things that happened (ie rapes) just dragged me down so much. It may be where I'm at in my life right now, but I just need a little more joy than this book offered me. I think it's well-written, but it's just not a story I want to spend the time reading.
Loved this book! It's deliciously long and held my interest throughout. I learned so much about architecture and building in medieval times! The characters are engaging and believable for the most part - my only criticism is that the main "evil" character is just such pure evil that he becomes almost a caricature of himself. Definitely worth the investment in time to read this book - I hated to finish it.
I read this book years ago and was happy to see it appear on the Oprah Book List. I loved the historical references in this story. If you have ever visited the magnificent churches in Europe, I would highly recommend this book.
973 pages! The size of this book intimidated me for a long time. Two weeks ago I decided to just read it and hope it was as good as I'd heard. It was. This story propels you forward effortlessly; you just HAVE to know what is going to happen next. Even when there were only 100 pages left to go, I still had no idea how certain story lines would be resolved. I am so glad that I read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or just a really good story.
This was the first book I have read by Ken Follett and I loved it! I almost couldn't put it down. Even with how long it was I finished rather quickly for me. I just loved how he hoped back and forth between character point of views. I think that is what kept me most excited- what and who was next. Definitely a must read.
This book was given to me by a Professor of Medieval History and Early Christianity because, in his words, "it is the most historiacally accurate fictional account of the period, and it has everything a book needs to be a great read." He was absolutely correct. I love this book and its continuance. It turned me on to historical fiction, and I will now read much more historical fiction. In fact, it is my favorite genre, and I never would have thought that possible.
This was my first Ken Follett read. I simply loved it. I finished it in less than a week and haven't stopped thinking about it. Many reviews mention the violence and indeed there is gore, sexual violence and other graphic scenes...but these were not kind times. Nor are these scenes representative of the entire book. However, they were important, I feel, to the story line, the reader's sympathy for some characters and hatred of others. The character development was incredible. Every person was multi-dimensional and even the most lovable were flawed, challenging the reader to understand and forgive them, or not, along the way. I enjoyed this book much the way I enjoyed The Mists of Avalon, The Red Tent, Ender's Game, and other books with flawed, complicated and interesting characters. I found the subplot (primary plot?) of the building of the cathedral fascinating in all its detail...the reading sped along throughout.
A long almost 1000 page book that starts in the year 1120 and is a multgenerational story about building a Cathedral and all the subplots of power and destruction and The Church as this man attempts to build his dream Church.
I gave up on this historical novel halfway. It's old-fashioned, full of cliches, and incredibly predictable. Frankly, I'd rather read Thomas Costain, from whom Follett borrowed a lot of those cliches. Bah!
It seems like a massive book at over 900 pages, but those pages fly by without notice. Follett's writing makes you want to read more as you get engrossed in the character's lives and you want to dive in and kill William youself. This is a book you'll want to get back to after you've put it down. Can't wait to read the sequel.
Excellent book.. it was a little difficult to get into at first, but then it became addictive. Some parts of the book talk about rape and brutality which I found a little disturbing, but justice was served in the end.
This book was so long, but I had such a hard time putting it down! The last 300 pages kept calling to me--I had to spend a couple of long nights because I just HAD to know how it ended! A GREAT book! One I truly enjoyed reading and plan to recommend to several people.
This book was very good... it started a tad bit slow, but after a few dozen pages I was absolutely hooked. This story follows 4 main medieval characters you meet in the beginning and chronicles how their lives intertwine throughout the entire story. (The sequel mentions them a few times as well, postmortem.) There is a lot of architecture talk in this book, however, the betrayals and scheming will quickly take you past all of that, if architecture isn't your thing.
This novel is a radical departure from Follett's usual novels of mystery and intrigue. Set in the twelfth century it is the story of the conception and construction of a marvelous cathedral. That sounds a little dull and boring, but have faith. You will come to love or hate the wonderful people that you get to know in this book. Give this book a try. You will not be disappointed.
historical fiction books out there; well written, well researched, with well-developed characters & an amazing story! This book is a classic and I cannot say enough about it. You MUST read this book-it will enrich your life and make you want to read more!
This book, even reading it in high school was intriguing. I enjoyed it very much although at the time I thought the content may have been very adult for a teenager. I would like to read again, now after more than 10 years.
With my fascination of the Middle Ages, I couldn't put this book down. Follett weaved intricate stories of people of power brought to the brink of starvation, or worse, executed, the struggles and triumphs of one of the leading characters, Phillip, who began as a humble monk and the family of the builder of one of the greatest cathedrals in all of England. They were all at the mercy of the whim of the current king and his/her subjects. This book is 973 pages, but there are no "slow spots". It gallops from one fascinating tale to the next.
I loved this book! I have read it twice and am thinking about reading it again! His follow up book "World without End" is just as good. Very well written, loved the details about early construction methods.
This book is definitely in my top 5 of favorite books! I ordered it after seeing it featured on Oprah as her Book of the Month selection, even though I have HATED several of her picks, this one sounded too good to pass up. I wasn't disappointed! I love historical fiction for one, and I loved all of the characters and description of life in the Middle Ages in England.
im struggling to get through this book ATM. . . Im trying to hang in there but its so boring at first and how everything moves sooo fast its ridiculous (characters falling in love etc when their significant other JUST died)
anyways its good i can see why people like it but my god it drags on. I will stick with it and hopefully it will pay off!
This is the most intriguing, interesting, mind-blowing historical novel I've ever read.
The characters are strong and you care about them deeply as you pass year after year with them in a seemingly endless route to a seemingly impossible goal. Don't forget to read the follow up to the book called "The World Without End". Equally superb.
(unfortunately "World without End" is not listed on this site at this time) And I'm not giving mine up!!!
ABSOLUTELY AMAZING........Because I tend to fall asleep too quickly, I listen to 85% of my books........if you can, this book has 32 CDs and could not stop listening - to work, at home, whatever it took to keep going! ************************* EXCELLENT
I read this book about 15 years ago and still remember it - that is how wonderful it is. This is one of those rare books that just catches you from the first page. If you like historical novels, you will love this. This is a classic....
The story was very interesting and very captivating. but the whole book i was waiting for justice and vindication for the good guys. you get tired of the bad guys winning and winning and winning while the good people suffer. only until the last 10 pages or so do you get any satisfaction and even when you do, half the victims are dead or old.
A departure from your typical Ken Follett. Set in 12th century England and France. The book follows a stone mason and his descendants and their fortunes and travails. This is a good read-enough adventure and real historical detail to make you think you are there.
Set in medival times, this was an insightful book on early culture and laws, particular attention to the catholic church and it's influence. It was a little long at almost 1000 pages. But I am glad I read it, my first novel of Ken Follett. It was a nice change from my usual murder/mystery fare.
If you are into historical mysteries, or the building of a cathedral, or just a whopping good story, this is a must read. Loooong (983 pages), but it keeps your attention as it follows three generations of men and women through 40 years of social and political upheaval. Set in the 12th-century fictional town of Kingsbridge, England, the book focuses on the building of a great cathedral. In a complex novel of this length, the reader may get confused at times, and may even feel like a scorecard would be helpful in keeping all the relationships straight, but it is certainly worth the trouble. A definite change from Follett's usual novels, and by far the best.
I read this book about 10 yrs ago and still remember much of the story; in fact, it won't be traded off my bookshelf. The story provides an excellent description of what it took to build a cathedral without long, boring details. Believable characters and several well-done story lines keep the reader engaged; I could not put it down. This book is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a great read; it would work especially well on an airplane trip, as it has the page numbers to combat the endless airport delays so rampant today. The story fights airport boredom well! :-)
Great book. If you love medieval fiction, and you love being swept up into the lives of characters you care about, you can't go wrong with this one set in the mid 12th century. I wish I could find another book similar and I would start reading it immediately.
This was a well-researched story of a medieval English cathedral and the people involved in the building, from the prior to the bishop to the mason and his family, through several generations. The architecture details were interesting without being overwhelming. At nearly 1000 pages, this is an epic read, and things do drag a bit after the first half -- you wish they'd just build the cathedral and be done -- but things pick up again closer to the end. Follett skillfully mixes real historical characters and facts into his tale, making for an interesting read. Recommended.
I thought this would be a book more for men. But, if Oprah liked it, why wouldn't I? I truly found that I could NOT put it down! There were times I was reading that I needed to stop and check myself for breating! I would hold my breath through certain "scenes". Amazing! Well written. I have since read many of Ken Follett's books and just sincerely enjoy them! I wish my husband would read more. I think he'd really like these books too!
I was a little put off by the length of this book when I first started it, but soon I wished it would never end. It was very good. The violence was hard to take at times, but I'm glad I read it. You also must read World Without End.
This was the best Ken Follett I had read up to this point. I LOVE history. And this is the first time that Follett has ventured out of the spy-thriller genre and tried his hand out on historical fiction. It is wonderful! It's actually one of the best books I've ever read and I read it twice. The second time was when the sequel to this book, World Without End came out 18 years later. I read them back to back. Wonderful, outstanding books.
Good movement to the story, with only minor moments of feeling "slow". The characters stuck with me for a long time after reading the book. Mr. Follett is a terrific story teller, and is able to connect the reader to the past in a way that is current and completely believable...often painfully so.
One of the best books I have ever read. It is great for both men and women; not only is this book filled with twists, turns, romance, and thrills but it is also historically accurate. Definitely amongst my top five!! The sequel is just as magnificent!
This book is long, but it moves along very quickly. I got caught up in the story at the very beginning and had a hard time putting it down. The story is rich with English history, and the characters become your friends and family for a time. I found myself wondering what was going on in their world, even after I finished reading it. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was because the sex "scenes" were way too detailed for my taste. I mostly skipped over the "juicy" parts. Even so, I look forward to reading the sequel - World Without End.
I love this story...it's a great historical fiction account of the building of a cathedral with great human stories weaved throughout. The author spans about 40 years and I appreciate following the characters's lives to experience their ups, downs, successess, tragedies and much more. Wonderful book and I'm looking forward to reading another Ken Follett book.
I have loaned my two copies of this book to many of my friends, and they have all returned them with rave reviews. The amount of history gleaned from this tome blew my mind. This is a real page turner with lots of action.
This is a wonderfully written and well researched book about the middle ages in England. Ken Follett is a master of the English language and keeps the reader riveted, following the characters and the building of the church.
I found the book's storyline to be boring. Although the writing was ok, I found myself skipping 10 or more pages to continue with the story. Too much wording, yet little character or story development.
This book is an incredible read. There is so much history and learning. It takes you through so many emotions. It spans through 40-50 years approx. The story is amazing and Follett does an excellent job of grabbing you and wrapping you up in the characters. Totally shocking at times. This has been my second favorite book to date. This is one I want for my library. I have watched the mini-series. It was done very well and the only book to movie I have felt they did justice to( Mind you I didn't get to see series until a year after reading book). The mini-series should be rated X instead of R.
A truly memorable book. Although I like historical fiction very much, I wasn't sure I would like this book. I was so wrong and I highly recommend this book to everyone who loves to read. This was one of those rare books that I will always remember. An incredible journey through the Middle Ages with characters from the lowest of peasants to the kings and archbishops of wealth and power, all centered around the building of the great cathedrals of England.
AWESOME! What a great book for people who are interested in the architecture of a cathedral with murder, pillaging, cunning, romance and the politics of the church and country in 1400's England. I know 970+ pages sounds huge, but I had a difficult time putting it down once I started!
One of the best books Ive read - Pillars of the Earth is the kind of book you cannot put down once you start it. The characters are followed throughout their lifetimes, as they and the great cathedrals which they are building reach for the sky.
This is my favorite book of all time. It is wonderfully written and tells of a time when you worked hard from sun up to sun set. It has wonderful characters, interesting stories throughout and detailed descriptions of the lives of the characters. At times I was completely livid at the injustices that happened to the main characters that I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next and if they would get justice. Highly recommend this book.
The Pillars of the Earth is such a wonderful story. This audio CD version has a great narrator (I love Richard E. Grant!) who gives all the characters life. I have not read the full-length version, but I did not feel that I was missing anything by listening to this abridged version.
Very well researched, and with few anachronisms to spoil the 12th-century ambience. Despite its great length (983 pages of small print), it doesn't feel a bit too long. Do not read this book if you expect complex characters or intellectual content, but DO read it if you love what the British call "ripping yarns." An excellent historical novel.
I read this book a long, long time ago and still love it! It is one of the best of all time! Ken Follett brings you into the world of medieval England and as you're reading, it's like you're there. Wonderful character development and you care about the characters! At the time I read it I wasn't even into historical fiction, but I still loved it, it's that good! I just finished the "sequel" World Without End and that was wonderful too!
A vast and sweeping epic novel that doesn't give you a second of down-time. Ken Follett has turned out a masterpiece that will keep you spellbound to the last page. A unique and fascinating insight into the world of the builders of cathedrals as well as the powers behind them.
Listed as one of the top 1,000 books of all time and for a reason.
This is a really engaging story. I'm not really even sure what the draw was but it pulled me in and made me care about the characters and get excited to find out what was going to happen next. Very interesting historical facts too.
This book sat on my shelf for a long time. My husband read it and liked it, but I couldn't get past the fact that it had 900+ pages. I saw it on audio and took it on a drive from Ohio to Oregon. What a great story. The characters came to life and their interactions were fascinating. I'm so glad I didn't skip this book.
I read this book for a TBR potluck challenge in my online book club, The Reading Cove.
It was a daunting doorstopper at nearly 1,000 pages and I read other books in-between, but this book was a non-stop, at times heart-pounding, saga of life, passion, treachery, manipulation, vengeance, perseverance - all the facets of life.
It's an extremely well-told story set in 13th century Europe, but primarily in England. And the characters are unforgettable. I came to know and love Tom Builder, Ellen, Jack, Aliena, and Prior Philip; meanwhile abhorring the likes of Alfred, William Hamleigh and Bishop Waleran.
A fabulously engaging read, I give it a definite A! Highly recommended!
Excellent saga of the building of a medieval cathedral from the viewpoint of various interrelated members of the community that built it. It's hard to put this book down. Very well written. Follet is one of my favorite authors.
With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale.
A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction.
This was poorly written, the characters were cardboard, the history was inaccurate and anachronistic and, overall, the book was a thoroughly dismaying excuse for a book. Life is too short to waste my time on this sort of poorly written blather.
[review from AMAZON] With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale.
I have not read this book, but this is what is stated on the back cover:
"Enormous and Brilliant... A great epic tale... creammed with characters unbelievably alive across the great gulf of centuries.. touches all human emotion-love and hate, loyalty and treachery, hope and despair. See for yoruself. This is truly a novel to get lost in and one of the marvels of the publishing year." cosmopolitan