The Pillars Of The Earth Deluxe Edition (oprah #60)

The Pillars Of The Earth Deluxe Edition (oprah #60)

Paperback | November 14, 2007

byKen Follett

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The spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known—and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

The Pillars Of The Earth Deluxe Edition (oprah #60)

Paperback | November 14, 2007
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From the Publisher

The spellbinding epic set in twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the lives entwined in the building of the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known—and a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.

Well known as a writer of international best sellers, Ken Follett was born in Wales and began his career as a newspaper reporter in Wales and in London. His first bestselling novel, The Eye of the Needle, won the Edgar Award and was adapted as a film starring Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland. He followed this success with four more ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:976 pages, 9.1 × 6.1 × 1.65 inPublished:November 14, 2007Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0451225244

ISBN - 13:9780451225245

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from The only book I read more than once! I read this book a while ago and loved it so much, my all-time favourite. The sequel is also good but not as much as this one.
Date published: 2016-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Book A really nice book with many things happening. I will read all the others. But too many architectural stuff for me.
Date published: 2015-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Could not put this book down, what an amazing story with characters whose lives intertwine in such an interesting way. I imagine myself reading this one again in the future!
Date published: 2015-09-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from "Hard work should be rewarded by good food." "Hard work should be rewarded by good food." I don't have too much to say about this book—I'm happy to finish it; let me get that on record. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad book. The problem—and problem isn't even the correct word; it's more taste than anything. I'm not one who's big into religion or anything that goes along with it including the building of historic churches and what have you; monks, nuns—I couldn't care less who the Pope is. Sorry, if I offend anyone, I'm only honest. If it's any consolation, I'm not big on Asian culture either or shrimp for that matter; it's a texture thing. The Pillars of the Earth is a book of epic proportion, sort of an eye-opener. I can't imagine living in the 1100's—consuming bread alone for pretty much every meal, unless, of course, you were fortunate enough to cross paths with a hog during your travels that day. My favorite character was Aliena. She was such a strong-willed women. And, I can't end my review without talking about the villain, William. What a vile parasite. I'm not a violent person, but if I could murder a fictional character, I would gut him with his sword. Ha. It feels great to get that out of my system. Is this book worth reading? It is. However, I don't believe it to be as well-written as George R.R. Martin's, A Game of Thrones. I haven't finished the entire Song of Ice and Fire series yet, but I've read enough to know it's in a league all its own. Since I read this novel, I've come to the realization that if I can make it through this, I should give Gone With the Wind and The Stand another go. :)
Date published: 2015-05-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love history! Read the book if you want panoramic views of history and fictional characters woven into the fabric of history.
Date published: 2014-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic Book Follett has created a masterpiece with this tale of greed, abuse of power, corruption, envy, and noble persons. The action is fast and sometimes bewildering, especially in light of the many abuses against peasants and the rule of law. Fascinating drama and historically well researched to show the true action of the era.
Date published: 2014-06-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Ugh I don't see what the fuss is all about. I found this book to be long winded and B.O.R.I.N.G.    Made my eyes bleed. 
Date published: 2014-01-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it! Long, but an excellent read!
Date published: 2013-08-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating Cant't put it down.. Cost me several sleepless night. Look forward to read the next!
Date published: 2013-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent reading Historical novels are hIs forté and this is a fine example. I'd never thought about the dedication and mind-boggling passion needed to create the amazing structures left all over Europe. A must-read.
Date published: 2013-05-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A work of rare beauty Rarely do you fall on a book that’s got everything working for it: a great story line, riveting characters, extraordinary writing style and thorough historical details. The story plot is action-packed and features such themes as despair, treachery, corruption, betrayal and love. The author also depicts here a fine reconstruction of what twelfth-century life was like. The result makes for a book that is quite dense and complex where you can never guess what will happen later on, which makes it a powerful and undeniable page-turner. The small downside is that it is a tad bit slow to start and that some of the technical jargon concerning the architecture and the building of the cathedral might discourage some. As for the characters, the author makes it clear that he has great insight into people behavior as his creations come alive on the paper as well as in our imagination. The author also adds a layer of complexity to his story through the intertwining of his characters’s lives. This effect is achieved through the over description that is made of their thoughts and their feelings. The result is simply magnificent as you are powerless to hate those who have a despicable and dark nature and love the heroes even through their rough patches. This novel is not doubt a long-term commitment, but I can assure anyone who will take this path that it will be worthwhile and that there are no disappointments whatsoever. You will be completely and utterly immersed in this book until you resurface at the very end of it. For more on this book and others, come and visit my blog at :
Date published: 2013-04-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An epic read! Wonderful plot, solid writing, riveting characters, and beautiful insight into life in England in the 12th Century. Only criticisms I have are that the technical rants about cathedral building sometimes went on too long, and that the end of the book could have come earlier. Despite the drawn out ending, many character conflicts were appropriately resolved. One of my favourite reads!
Date published: 2012-05-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not a Waste of Time It's been now two years since I have read The Pillars of the Earth. What a great book!! One of the best books I have ever read. The beginning is a bit slow though. The reader of this book must be patient because it is a very long book with its 974 pages, but it is certainly not a waste of time. The whole story is thrilling and the history base line is nothing but a masterpiece. Truly a book of his own. I recommend this book to everyone!!
Date published: 2012-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Excellent This is by far one of the best books Ive ever read. Staged around the 1100's, the book is full of treachery, despair, love, hate, and everything inbetween. Explictly details the hard times of the old ages, and terrible things people had to go through, but when good things come to the ones who finally deserve them it makes it that much better.
Date published: 2011-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Mr. Follet really does a wonderful job creating and developing the characters throughout the story. It is true to history as it can be, with Kingsbridge being a fictional town (therefore any historical events occuring in Kingsbridge are also fictional), based on the fact that the building of large cathedrals took many decades. The author does an amazing job of character development; sometimes a bit over-despcriptive, he goes into great and vast quantities of detail about what the characters think and feel as they interact with the world around them. Although it seemed a tad long, there is nothing that should be removed. Anyone who enjoys historical novels, period dramas, architecture, the Middle Ages, history in general, or even simply intelligent and mature writing, should most definitely pick up this gem and enjoy what a wonderful world Ken Follet has created.
Date published: 2011-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book What a fantastic book! I agree it can be a bit harsh to read at times. The storyline and intertwining of the characters in each others lives keeps me turning the pages. Don't let the size of this book disourage you, it is well worth it!
Date published: 2011-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great A friend recommended Pillars of the Earth to me. I am so glad she did. I loved Pillars of the Earth. Great from start to finish. A must read. I recommed this book to everyone. I will be reading World Without End.
Date published: 2011-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book! Not what I was expecting...lots of action-always keeps you guessing! I would absolutely recommend this book!
Date published: 2011-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book!!! A must read I became obsessed with the story from the momment that I picked this book up. I love how women are described as powerful and strong. Ken Follett has become a favorite author of mine and I will be reading more of his work in the future.
Date published: 2010-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! What a great book! Great storyline with unforgettable characters.
Date published: 2010-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Author This is the first book I've read by Ken Follet, but absolutely love his writing - he has great insight into people and has a way of making the reality of life in the 1100's become real to the modern reader. It seems Follet can take any topic and make it so interesting that one has a hard time putting the book down. I definitely plan on reading the sequel, World Without End.
Date published: 2010-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a great book! Pillars’ was wonderful! This book had great colourful characters, great detail and great research that kept me reading for hours! I really cared about the characters and really enjoyed the story.
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Could not put it down I read this book a few years back and now it is out as a series on TMN. One of the best books I have read. Could not put it down.
Date published: 2010-08-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Beauty. This was one of those books that you wish you could read for the first time - all over again. I couldn't put this one down - I enjoyed the entire experience of reading this book. I fell in love with each and every character and their lives. The story was fascinating and moving - lots of twists, which keeps you glued to every page. Memorable.
Date published: 2010-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very entertaining, creatively written with good range in the characters This is definitely a historical fiction. The setting is England during the years 1132 - 1174 or thereabouts. This book is written so that there are a variety of vantage points provided in the telling of this story. Both young and old, as well as the priviliged and the pious are well represented. We are also taken on a journey through time, so that when we meet Jack, who is one of the main characters, we see how he changes from being a little "wild" boy, to being a man. It is definitely a long book, but I found myself drawn to it, and enjoyed reading it. I enjoyed the story line. The symbolism of the building of the cathedral was apparent. And for me, this made the book not just a story about building a cathedral, but about life and people and the era in which this book is set. The evil vs. good theme was also apparent in this book, and although it was easy to flow with this theme, it was also written well, so that it was entertaining. The book has many other themes as well, love, hate, revenge, greed, victory, tragedy, success, etc. There is lots of interest in this book, and I highly recomend it.
Date published: 2010-02-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The characters came alive! Very much enjoyed this book! I loved how the characters came to life and how I felt anger at their misfortunes. It was very well written and I couldn't put it down. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a good descriptive story. The only thing I didn't like about this book was the amount of detail used to describe the construction of the cathedral, however I would not let this discourage anyone from reading it.
Date published: 2010-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from unbeliveably great I could not put down the book. It is intriguing, takes twists and turns, well detailed and beautifully written. It catches your attention and interest, and voila, you're in for a great voyage. It's a must read
Date published: 2010-02-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Never a boring page! I absolutely loved this novel. I never would have imagined a book so immense could be so fast paced and action packed. Every single page had action, excitement and twists. This book is remarkable on how it ties in so many little details with one another. It is a true masterpiece and I am sad I am finished it.
Date published: 2009-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My All Time Favorite Book The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a masterpiece of historical fiction. The setting is the fictional town of Kingsbridge spanning the years 1135-1174. While the main plot surrounding the building of the first Gothic Cathedral in England may sound boring, it is far from.
Date published: 2009-09-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from One year later Although this book was well written, I found it difficult to get and stay into it. I committed to reading some pages once a week when all of the kids were in bed. I needed the quiet to really throw myself into the characters and story line. I found nothing predictable (which is a great thing).
Date published: 2009-09-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 973 pages of Riveting Historical Novel Wow, I can't believe I've finally finished this book! Every page was so incredible that it was intoxicating sometimes and I just couldn't put down the book! I couldn't believe how real everything seemed! Even though most of the people were fictional, the book felt so real that I thought for a minute that I was reading some form of historical files that were compiled into one story. It shows how much research went into this story and how much Ken Follett likes that time period.The characters were so detailed that you really feel like you know them. Each character was so detailed and so intricate to the plot line. It feels like you know them really well because when some major events happen, you hear them from multiple points of view, so you feel like you know exactly how everyone is affected by the events that take place. The Good vs. Evil theme is perfect for this novel. Not just because it is present in everyday life, but it's significance in the Bible. Jesus is always fighting evil and trying to make good in the world, just as Prior Philip tried to do with Kingsbridge. William Hamleigh was probably the most evil character in the novel. Even though Waleran Bigod was pretty awful, he saw the error of his ways, even though it took him a long time. No, William was just about as bad as you can get. There were so many times that I wished that I could just jump into the page and slap him in the face! He was so awful, I nearly cried when he hurt Aliena and Richard. I was so glad that he got what he deserved and that Aliena was there to see the man who had tortured her for so long finally be punished for his evil ways. Kingsbridge proiry's cathedral is so meraculous and I can just imagine it due to the incredible explinations that we get from Ken Follett. It's amazing how something that was merely a hbby, turned into a passion which helped him create this novel. I saw a really big church once which was designed cathedral style and now I wish I could go back there again now that I know what goes into a real cathedral. The amount of detail that goes into building one is astounding and I hope that in future travels, I will see one that would match Kingsbridge. The love that was shown between Jack and Aliena as well as Tom and Ellen was a beautiful addtition to the novel. I loved thinking about how much they loved each other. Even though there were some scenes that got a little racey. I liked how even though there was so much about politics and religion, there was a love story there too. I guess that's why it all seemed so real. There is never a time where there is no love in the world. I also loved how we get to watch little Jonathan grow up with the monks and eventually become Prior. Even though it did cause some issues with the legitimacy of Jonathan, I was glad that he did eventually find out who his true father was, because Tom Builder loved him untill the day he died. This book was so incredible. Even though it was really long, I can't imagine it any shorter. Follett did such an amazing job at really making you feel like you were in Medeival times that it's almost a let-down when you stop reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn't mind a little bit of ludeness and wants a really great read that they can be totally absorbed in. What a GREAT novel!
Date published: 2009-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING this book was sooo good, its definitly the kind of novel you cant just take in one sitting, its a reading over time but is so worth it its got, romance, mystery, rape, history, and plenty more. its the type of book when your done reading you actually feel good about it and yourself, expecially for reading so much!
Date published: 2009-05-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from WORTH THE 1000 PAGES! I was captured from the very first couple of pages and was kept enthralled thoughout all 1000! I would never have thought that the building of a church would interest me, but after hearing so many positive reviews on this novel i decided to give it a read. You will not be disappointed in this novel. It's full of action, adventure, has some romance involved and some mystery! It's a total package. Can't wait to read the sequel - World Without End. Another 1000 pages and i'm hoping it was as good as pillars of the earth.
Date published: 2009-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Piece of Work I cannot believe I have not read this already. This book will captivate you from the first page, and not let you down. Set in the 12th century. this novel involves the building of a cathedral, the extremely interesting characters, corruption, feuds, romance, religion. You name it, it is there.You will love the way it is written. Ken Follett has done excellent research to give us a novel so rich in history & characters, you will not want to put it down. After reading this you will never look at a cathedral the same way.
Date published: 2009-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Read!! I truly enjoyed reading this book, I was disappointed when it ended just because I was so engrossed in the story and it's characters. Not too many books can do that for you.
Date published: 2009-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A masterpeice for the ages Huge appreciation for Fen Follet as he as a writer takes on a new challenge of writing. In terms of his style and genre, he really created something special in one of the best Novels in the world.
Date published: 2009-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable read I found it hard to put this book down and go to sleep. After I would put it down, I would be constantly thinking about the characters and their stories. It was an amazing read; I recommend this book to anyone.
Date published: 2009-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Definitely worth a re-read I really enjoyed this book. I don't usually read books of this genre so I was quite surprised when I couldn't tear away from it. At first, it may seem like the story is taking awhile to develop but hang in there, it is all worth it. This book is full of so many interesting characters and exciting twists and turns.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely great!!! this series has everything in one book,it has deception,greed,murder,witch craft,lust,hosnesty,and history,i highly recomment this book. I couldn't wait to find out how it all ended and what would happened to many of the charters defently kept me at the edge of my seat when i thought I had ken follet figured out, little did I know he had some twist and turns in this story, very strong auther. this is one of my first of his books and I surely can say I was not disappointed. very beautifuly detailed
Date published: 2009-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic book This is one of only a few very long books that I've read - and this was sooo fantastic, I think mainly because the author has sooo much time to build story and characters so you feel as though you actually know these people. A bit 'harsh' to read at times, but I felt that it was never without reason to it.
Date published: 2008-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from FANTASTIC I loved this book! I am an avid reader and own probably a thousand or more books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from the very first line to the very last. It was one of the best and most well writtn books I have ever read and that is saying a lot! This is not my usual genre, very far from it BUT if you like to read, go for it, it was fantastic!!! I have not read Follett before but I have already bought this book in hard cover and will defintely be reading more of him.
Date published: 2008-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Master Writing Masterpieces I discovered Ken Follett through another book (Jackdaws). He is my favorite author. Pillars of the Earth is a masterpiece that will become a classic. I could not put the book down. Every page read brings the reader to read the next one. in one word: BRILLIANT! I am now waiting for my Christmas present: World Without End. Dom from Dorval
Date published: 2008-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic read...didn't want it to end! I know that this book is quite heavy and long, but I thought it was amazing, and even after 1000 pages, I didn't want it to end! The characters were so memorable and I loved to hate that Dudley character. I am reading World Without End and I hope it's as good as Pillars. The author was really good at describing the cathedral that you fell like you are there looking at it. So descriptive in every way. I would reccommend this book to anyone and everyone!
Date published: 2008-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pillars of the Earth Beautifully and masterfully written book. The sights, sounds, smells and emotions of every character in the book jumps right off of the pages. You feel as if you've been transported back in time and it's well worth the journey back in time!
Date published: 2008-10-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth the Reward Pillars came to me by way of a really good friend. It’s her favorite novel, and I wanted to see why. I was extremely disappointed at first. It starts slowly, with quite a few different story threads going on without giving any indication of why or how they are connected. Once they come together, the story takes on a better pace. Once we discover why they are important to one another, it absolutely flies. There is a lot of technical jargon on building—much in the vein of Michael Crichton with his science—and it does slow the story. Still, it is interesting and important, because several of the characters have a passion of building that rivals adoration. And that ties nicely into the religious order depending on the building being done. I suppose that’s why I liked this book. The very reading of it mimicked the story. Slowly it rose from just a blank nothingness, to a well-laid foundation, to arching walls, to soaring heights, and finally, a finished masterpiece.
Date published: 2008-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome Never would have thought that building a church thousands of years ago would have me rivited to a book!! Am now reading World Without End by Follett and expect again to be unavailable to my friends and family for a week or two!!!
Date published: 2008-10-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mesmerizing I never thought I'd enjoy a novel such as this, but I finished it in about a week. Just couldn't put it down. I kept trying to envision which actors could play which roles if they made this into a movie, but not sure if I've come up with any answers. I loved it.
Date published: 2008-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book. Worth a second read. Wow, this book was great. The size overwhelmed me at first but it was so worth it. I am not a huge fan of history but this story was so well written, it was easy to follow. This book is a definite top 10 for me. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2008-09-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good but not great Stuck with it and was glad I did, but not the best writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I enjoyed it but cannot quite understand what made it such an incredible best seller, considering it's length.
Date published: 2008-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a delicious read! Ken Follett dove right into the 11-12th century here with this incredible book. Minute details of how people lived, how they built these magnificent cathedrals, how thier society worked was mixed in discreetly with a spell binding plot and captivating personalities. The story follows a handful of charactors and how the building of one priory cathedral intertwined thier lives though triumphs and downfalls, how they supported and opposed eachother. It is a highly reccommended read, especially for those who enjoy a story that is a little longer. I can not put this book down, I know it is a story I will pick up and read time and time again.
Date published: 2008-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Classic Good vs. Evil Tale The Pillars of the Earth is all about the people. The author, weaves together the lives of several generations of people over the three decades it takes to build a cathedral in Kingsbridge, England. The span of time the story encompasses helps immerse you, as in some cases you follow the characters from their childhood through most of their adult lives. The texture of 12th century England is everywhere. The reader is repeatedly struck by the rarity in their world of things we take for granted — being able to read, for example, or having a house with more than one room — and the things they accept as part of life that we never would have imagined. You come to know, intimately, all the major characters. Their daily struggles, their long-term ambitions, their joy, their heartbreak — it’s all there, it’s all so perfectly painted that you can’t help but identify with them. The world swirls around them as so many different factors conspire over the decades to impede the ultimate vision of the grand Kingsbridge Cathedral. The politics of the time are just as complex, strange, and dangerous. Reviews, for the most part, have been extremely positive though I feel the need to mention that I don't believe it's a book that everyone will enjoy. I found myself struggling to get through the first 300 or so pages. At some point after that, the story began to weave it's magic and I was ensnared until the very end.
Date published: 2008-08-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent read!!! This wasn't something that I thought I'd enjoy but was very pleasantly surprised. Follett has an amazing style that keeps you from putting it down. I find his style to be somewhat like Sidney Sheldon's. He really lets you into the mind of each character. Don't be put off by the size of the book, it's worth the time. You won't be disappointed.
Date published: 2008-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wow Wow Wow!! This is the best book I have ever read in my enitre life! And I've read a lot of books. This is the type of book that I wouldn't really be interesed in, so I took a chance on it and boy was I ever glad I did! If you are reading it and think it's boring and want quit, DON'T!
Date published: 2008-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from keep going!!!! Don't give up - if you're reading it now and wondering if you should continue with this - keep reading ... I was at page 562 when I actually gave a crap what the character were doing and to who. Now I love it LOVE IT!!!! I'm not going to read the other one though ... i think I'll leave it like it is.
Date published: 2008-07-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put It Down This book starts out a little slow, but once you get through the first 150 pages or so it picks right up and keeps that pace throughout the rest of the novel. The other 800 pages or so fly right by. Definetely a wonderful book, but be ready for some pretty violent concepts and descriptions.
Date published: 2008-07-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from stunning such an amazing piece. through the whole book i had difficulty putting it down, and was aching for more when i finished the book!
Date published: 2008-06-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The worst book I have ever tried to read I bought this book on the advice of a friend, and it was a terrible mistake. I struggled, wincing, through the first 25% of the book and finally had to close it forever. It felt like it was written by a 14 year old boy. Not only were the characters one dimensional, unbelievable and boring, the plot was drawn out and painfully slow. There were many, many examples of poor writing (stylistically and technically) in the portion of the book i managed to get through, but for me, the crowning moment of the stupidity of this book came when, within the space of a few pages, the author used the phrase "fell to the ground like a dropped doll", not once but twice, referring to different incidents involving different characters. Do yourself a favor and use the time you would have wasted on this book to read something even slightly intelligent. It is truly a poorly written, terrible book. I will never read a book recommended to me by that friend again!
Date published: 2008-06-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Great Recommended Read I'd read Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle, an espionage adventure novel and was surprised to see the change in genre. I was pleasantly surprised once I began reading Pillars of the Earth. I wasn't privy to any of the "hype" surrounding this novel before I read so I was able to purchase without any preconceptions. It is a long (almost 1000 pages) epic tale of the lives of several people involved in the daily life of a middle ages English priory and how we see their lives intersect over their lifetimes. I thought Follett did a marvelous job painting the antagonists, William Hamleigh and Bishop Waleran Bigod as poisonous malevolent evil-doers. The progression of the book kept me leading to believe they would earn their own punishment and I was appalled that they managed to continue to pillage the countryside untouched. Where other reviewers have indicated this book was too long or too descriptive - I disagree. I enjoyed the descriptions of monsatic life and cathedral building in the middle ages. My only negative - I would have liked to see the conclusion unfold over a longer period of time. It seemed like the last 50 pages of the book were crammed with "what happened to ..." for each character.
Date published: 2008-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I LOVED it! This was a great read. I keep recommending it to everyone!
Date published: 2008-06-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great People we're raving about this book, so I'm thinking "wow, I gotta' have this book'. My thought after reading it...'well, it was just ok'. The characters are very well developed and charming, but the book was overwritten.
Date published: 2008-05-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good but not great People we're raving about this book, so I'm thinking "wow, I gotta' have this book'. My thought after reading it...'well, it was just ok'. The characters are very well developed and charming, but the book was overwritten.
Date published: 2008-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Please don’t end … Please don’t end …PLEAAAAAAAASE Have you ever read a book that was sooooooo good you couldn’t stop reading but you didn’t want to keep reading because you are worried it’s going to end? This is how I felt while I was reading the book Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet . I absolulty LOVED it. all 950+ pages of it. A page turner, I read it on the train, when I woke up, before I went to bed , at lunch time and even on the weekend. It is a novel that occurs in the eleven hundereds which evolved around building a cathedral. What I loved about this novel is the fact that every single good person in the book has plenty of flaws but they were still able to be good and do good and overcome evil while the bad characters in the book were so bad that they never had an ounce of commpasion in their soul. Full of defeats and tiumphs for both good and bad but who wins at the end? You have to read it to find out.
Date published: 2008-05-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Hmmm.... Well I have to say that I was super excited to get this book and start reading it with all the hype that surrounded it and was dissapointed to find I was struggling to make it to the next chapter. I felt it dragged on and didn't capture my attention at all.
Date published: 2008-04-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dear Mr. Follett, what were you thinking? I bought your book as I knew I'd enjoy reading about a fascinating time in history brought to life. And I did. That part was great. You must have done a lot of research. But I have to ask, did you take a course on Harlequin writing and just HAVE test it out? If I can liken my experience reading your book to taking a beautiful walk under perfect skies, punctuated with steaming piles of dog turd, then you'd begin to see how I felt about your harlequinesque sex scenes. Don't get me wrong, I like sex. But you cheapened your book with these. You should have put one right up front, as a sort of warning, so I didn't have to get sucked in to the great writing, but instead you took a page from City TV's handling of Movie of the Week, and let the first part go without commercials and then increased the frequency and length of them until the commercials are an annoying intrusion detracting from the movie itself. That's how I felt. What were you thinking? Final thought...maybe you should do more research on sex. For instance, how many women really like having their ni*p*les pinched until it hurts?
Date published: 2008-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing read my son read this book and said , mom i think you should read this,i really didn't want to,but once i started could'nt put it down,and then passed it to my husband to read which by the way doesn't read much,he also loved it.such clever writing and get to learn lot about people ,greed and religion and ambitions
Date published: 2008-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from absolutely amazing!! i was a little hesistant, cause a book that was oprah's pick, i wasnt so sure i wanted to read that, it was also recommended, but once i started i was hooked, so well written, its like reading the lives of a bunch and theirs everything, adventure, romance, politics, even a bit of mystery, absolutely loved it all
Date published: 2008-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Read This book was referred to me by a friend. I was reluctant because it did not appear to be my kind of read. I was pleasantly shocked at how engaging the story is, how real the characters are, and how well written the book is. While it appears to be an intimidating novel due to the size, I got halfway through it in a matter of days. It is definitely worth your time!
Date published: 2008-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Storyweaver Right from the beginning Follett had me hooked! His words and descriptions are so vivid and weave such an amazing story.
Date published: 2008-03-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from What's the fuss... Oprah could sell me anything because I love her most of the time. I know that she and many others absolutely love this book but I really don't know why. I tried a few times to pick it up and each time more determined than before to get into it, whatever it took. After reading for a while I'm left scratching my head wondering what the fuss is all about. I would like my money back please Oprah!
Date published: 2008-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic Novel! Loved the book! Ken Follett is a great story teller!
Date published: 2008-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Epic Novel This book is like a movie that must be seen on a big don't know what to expect and it turns out to be an entirely great piece of written work. I enjoyed it beginning to end, although I wasn't too sure that I would even get through it when I originally received it as a gift.
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Herat pumping....need life support? Kimmy Crack Corn~~~~~~~~ Extremely acurate, ...a very intellegant read for a Mid-Evil times book lover, or a person trying to find truth in relign. I LUV it! Cant wait to read World Without End! Read on yall!
Date published: 2008-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Complete. For anyone, a 900 page book can appear daunting at first. Most would pick it up, and then assume that the author just babbles on. Not only is this NOT the case for Pillars, if there was any less than one page that Follett had decided to write, this book would be totally incomplete. From start to finish, you cannot help to be just enthralled in the world, but most importantly, you cannot help but get to know the main characters so well. You literally follow them throughout the course of their lives, the good times and the bad times, for both the heroes and the villians. Pillars is also not a tough read, it flows very well from chapter to chapter, allowing the reader never to lose sight of something that happened at the very beginning of the book. Each person plays an integral role in the relationships that are built, and the reader gets a first hand narrative into each of their lives and how they all interact with each other. It may be long, but it is whole, and genuine. When you finish, you are almost sad that its over.
Date published: 2008-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unbelievable Once you read "Pillars of the Earth" you are going to want to travel the world just to see a cathedral up close. The detail was so vivid and the characters so rich it was like you were living in that time. For a book as long as it was it flowed so effortlessly I was finished before I knew it. Thankgoodness there is a "sequel". Read and be transported!
Date published: 2008-02-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! Just started this book about 100 pages into it and I can't put it down. A must read for sure for anyone.
Date published: 2008-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful read This was a wonderful book! I love the way the characters are all connected.It kept me at a steady pace of reading. It was one of those books you just couldn't put down. Can't wait to get into the follow up " World Without End"
Date published: 2008-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pillers of the earth Very easy read, exciting, lots of twists , good characters,
Date published: 2008-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best read This is an awesome book. It is extremly large and yet I couldn't put it down. It keeps the reader interested all the way through!
Date published: 2008-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing This is not the kind of book I normally read and only did so because a friend lent me the book, but it turned out to be one of the best books I have ever read. The characters are interesting and the story is gripping. Despite it being close to 1000 pages, I raced through it in a couple of days. I was up late every night because I could not put it down. It is classic good vs. evil and despite the time period, the author uses current language. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2008-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read This book was a fantastic read. The storyline was well thought out and the characters very realistic. I really liked how readable this book was, it wasn't a mindless fast read but it wasn't so challenging you had to reread every chapter. Definitely on my list of favorites.
Date published: 2008-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Fantastic!! I was given this book for Christmas and once I started it I couldn't put it down. I spent every spare moment over the holidays reading. It is probably one of the best books I have ever read. I was in Chapters a couple of days ago and saw the follow up book "World Without End". I had no idea there was another book in the series and I was so excited I couldn't wait to get home and start reading.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awesome! I read this book when it originally came out 18 years ago , but wanted to reread it before launchuing into World without End. It's a great British historical novel full of love, hate and treachery. A must read for anyone and everyone. It's as I remember it , an amazing page turner even at over 900 pages. Although some of the place names are changed and some characters are fictional the history is accurate. It gives great insight into 12th century English life. Having been there for over 5 weeks this past summer and having visited many hisorical sights, it was easy to picture this great story as it unfolded.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic! The book looks huge and daunting. To be honest, when I first received it as a gift I wasn't exactly interested in a book about building a church. Surprisingly, the book was a page turner that I could barely put down. On more than one occasion I crawled into bed with the book and I was so captivated that I stayed up all night. I couldn't stop reading, the author leaves you wondering what will happen NEXT. I shed tears, I was enraged... oh the emotions really come out while reading this one! I would definitely recommend this one.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Best! I am an avid reader but am not a huge fan of fiction... until now! "The Pillars of the Earth" by Ken Follett is the best work of fiction I have ever read. I am a true convert! A truly captivating piece of fiction. Impossible to put down.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read! Life in the 1100's isn't much different from today. There is love and heartache, ambition and submission, the rich and powerful and the needy poor. This book creates a sense of awe at the construction of huge and beautiful churches which represent all that is good contrasted with evil. This is a book that is hard to put down, despite it's lengthy volume.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great Terrfic Read! I couldn't put the book down. If you want a story that has it all - sex, love, lust, and intrigue than you have to read this book. It was a real page turner! Sand
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding historical fiction! I thought of Ken Follett as being an author who was limited to churning out spy novels (albeit, interesting ones). Who knew he would also be such a skilled historical fiction writer? Character development, daily live in 12th century England, the political and economic powers of royalty combined with the church, and fascinating details about cathedral design and architecture are interwoven to create a powerfully good read. Mr. Follett writes with passion about his subjects such that the reader's interest is held throughout this rather large tome.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pillars of the Earth Absolutely one of the best books I have ever read. I started reading this book on Dec 23 and finished it on Jan 10!
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pleasantly Surprised! This was not the kind of book I had expected to enjoy, let alone fall in love with. Pillars of the Earth brings you and all your five senses into the middle ages, in the middle of a story that won't let you go even after you've finished the last page. The story is entwined with a richness and detail of history I had not expected, and brought to life characters I was surprised to find myself totally engrossed in. I hated the villians and hoped for the best with the heroes. This is a story of sacrifice, love, triumph, adventure set against a truly remarkable historical backdrop. Not to mention, I actually became invested in the centerpiece of the whole story, the building of a mighty cathedral. Don't pass this one up because you think you're not "into" historically based novels- you'll be missing out on a great page-turner.
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All Time Favorite Book "Pillars of the Earth" is an incredible book, set in 11th century England. I am a sucker for historical fiction, and this set the right note. The characters and plot twists are such that once you start reading, you will have difficulty putting it down. I must say that this is the first time I really agree with an Oprah pick, up she made an amazing choice, and thatnks to her, more people are getting to see what this book is all about.
Date published: 2008-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Question I haven't read this book and I was wondering if this book would be too difficult for a junior high student to read... and if it isn't too difficult, do you think young students find this book interesting?
Date published: 2008-01-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible I read pillars of the earth for the first time when I was about 17 years old, even at that age I loved great literature. Ken Follett has a creative mind, and a crazy way of making you fall in love with his characters. For the first time ever, this book made me cry at the loss of my favorite character. From start to finish it leaves you enthralled and wanting more. I wouldn't expect anything less from Ken Follett.
Date published: 2007-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from excellent story, takes you back in time I loved the book immediately, even after just reading the first page. I appreciate an author who writes like this Ken. He writes enough details for every scene so you can actually visualize what is happening but not too much details to be boring. It's a fascinating well written book..loved it a lot and will read the 2nd part of this series..RB
Date published: 2007-12-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Worst Book I've Ever Read! The characters are caricatures, the plot ridiculously predictable, and the violence programmed. It's written at the level of young teens but its too violent and the sex scenes are silly. Don't bother with this book
Date published: 2007-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Couldn't Put it Down! This is my first Follett novel and it was excellent! Despite its length I couldn't put it down. The intertwining paths of the characters left me wondering from one page to the next how it would all come together. I'll be reading more of Follett's works!
Date published: 2007-12-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it I read this book years ago and have been singing the praises of Ken Follett for 10 years. So happy to see him getting this kind of attention, and knowing a lot of new readers are finding him!
Date published: 2007-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from good book i read this book wondering what all the rave was about it and it sure is good. you must have some time on your hands because it is long but it has value and you will be glad to some extent you read it.
Date published: 2007-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great One of the best books that I have ever read. A truly great story.
Date published: 2007-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My First Real Book This was probably one of the first 'real' books I ever read - I was in my late teens or early 20s - and is still one of my favourite books! I was surprised to see it on Oprah's list, because I had read it so long ago. But I am glad it has made a come-back! It is well worth the read, and another read and another read!
Date published: 2007-11-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The Murder of the English Language Having read the on-line exerpt and learning that one of the characters was " ... too old to bare children ... ", I can't bring myself to read any further.
Date published: 2007-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Glad to see this on Oprah's list. I was surprised when I saw this was on Oprah's list, as I had picked it up at a yard sale 10 years ago. This is a great book, the development of the characers in the book is excellent, and the way the stories come together and develop are fluid and natural. This book was on of the first books that I was unable to put down once I had started.
Date published: 2007-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My all-time favourite I've read this book a few times and will likely read it again. I've given it as a gift more than once, and recommended it many times. In my reading group, several people have mentioned it as their favourite. I've enjoyed many of Follett's books, but this one is different from most of them, and even better. Watching the cathedral come into being, getting to know the stories of many of the people of all types who were involved in it is amazing. It's a great way to understand these beautiful structures and how they came to be.
Date published: 2007-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning!! I had read this book about 10 years ago and did not know until recently that it was such a best seller. No wonder! This is the first book that I have found to be profoundly awe inspiring! The story grabs hold of the reader, pulls you along and never, ever disappoints. I am an avid reader and have not found another book to move me so deeply on such an emotional level. Ken Follett is an author of such skill that this book deserves to be on recommended reading lists the world over.
Date published: 2007-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of the best There are only a few novels that I would lend the highest rating to that I've read, but this is one of them. I was hesitant at first to begin reading this, noting the near 1,000 pages I would have to conquer, but by the time I finished I was left absolutely breathless. You really are changed after reading this novel, it picks you up in one place and drops you in another. I had the privilege of reading this while I actually was overseas in the UK, and I read it over the course of a few months. I don't think there is any other way to tackle this epic than that. I would wholeheartedly recommend this novel for any place, anyone, any season and if you come away without feeling different, I'll eat my hat.
Date published: 2007-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Favourite Book Ever! This is the first Ken Follett book I have ever read, and I must say it is absolutely the best. Even though most of Ken Follett's books are set during WWII, he is still able to take us on a while ride through the medieval times, following a Master Builder and his family through their trials and tribulations. An excellent read which will keep you on the edge of your seat and up for hours. I recommend you read it during your holidays because you're not going to get much sleep! I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Date published: 2006-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Spellbinding - the best book I have ever read. I don't read novels like this, I'm more prone to sci-fi fantasy. I ran out of books to read, and with penniless pockets raided my father's book shelf. He lent me the Pillars of the Earth and I found myself in love. This book now holds a place of honor in my Library, I could not put it down. I have re-read it at least 5 times, and even though I know the story by heart, Ken Follet's words never fail to sweep me off my feet and I am lost. I recommend this book to anyone, no matter what your preferences. It is not science fiction, it is not a frivolous fantasy novel, and yet it is my all-time favorite read. Having found myself so thoroughly entrenched in this book I attempted to read other works by Ken Follet and to my great disappointment was unable to get past the first few chapters in any that I picked up.
Date published: 2006-05-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It will keep you entranced! I absolutely fell in love with the storyline and characters in this book! It's an emotional rollercoaster ride right up until the end. Definately one of my Follett fav's.
Date published: 2006-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Awestruck It seems like a decade since I read this book but I still remember it. It is oustanding. I fell in love with the male character, not something I'm normally prone to do. I was crushed when the book was over. -I wanted more! This is not your typical Follett spy novel. His other novels pale in comparison. So good it's worth a 2nd read, something I almost never do (except for John Irving novels!).
Date published: 2006-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A book with endless depths This was the deepest book i have ever read in my entire life. Upon completion i felt that i knew each and evey character as if they were living next door to me or as if i were related to them in some way. I felt sorrow for prior Phillip, sadness when Tom Builder died, and a sheer hatred toward William Hamleigh and Waleron Bigod. This book is absolutly amazing and i recommend it to anyone and everyone!
Date published: 2005-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from awesomw I have read hundreds of books and this is to date the best one hands down. An awesome book that doesn't have a flat moment through the 1000 + pages. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to lose themselves in an amazing story!!!
Date published: 2005-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This book will raise your heart rate! I had no idea what to read next after finishing this book. Every book I picked up I knew would be disappointing. Buy two copies. One for yourself and one for a friend. This is a book that needs to be shared.
Date published: 2004-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from amazing Never a better book about life, love and hate. If you haven't yet read this book you should, and if you have then you should read it again!
Date published: 2004-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A DAMN FINE READ One of the best books I've ever read--and I read a lot. You can't go wrong with this one.
Date published: 2003-12-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BEST BOOK EVER this was the most amazing book i have ever read, hands down!! i have read it at least 10 times!! it was so great, from start to end, so descriptive, mesmorizing!! it has fighting, gore, hate, love, affairs!!! it is the most amazing book!! set in the perfect time period i love to read about. i want to name my first born daughter aliena. ken follett needs to write more books like this, in this time period. by far, his BEST work!!
Date published: 2003-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This is the best novel in the history of the earth I have just finished this novel for the second time. It is the best novel in the history of the earth. The characters are as real as if they are interacting in your own life. The battle between right and wrong is so poignant, and you will cry at times when right triumphs. The prior, so driven by doing what is right, also hurts people throughout this piece. You would never question his decision - in the context of the time - but can see how real people suffer as a consequence. The overwhelming evil in this book is about the abuse of power by the Earl . The prior, with no power except what is right stands up to this and other abuse and wins through. This book is an inspirational text about the power of good over evil. Even though good sometimes produces suffering, it is always inherently good. Evil always leads to evil.
Date published: 2002-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding This is my third time reading this book, and every time I find something more masterful than the last. I fought back all the emotions that each of the characters felt, and wanted to jump right into the book. Excellent, talented and unforgettable.
Date published: 2002-10-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from 3 Generations Love this Book My father read this book and talked about it and wanting to build a stone wall (read it and you'll understand) for 2 years before I finally picked it up. Historical fiction that exposes the dark side of humans and Catholicism are not normally what would hold my interest. Instead this became my favourite book of all time. I gave it to my 12 year old son, an avid reader, to read and it became his favourite book. Buy the hardcover. You are going to want to keep this book and share it.A great read, a great lesson, and a fantastic story.
Date published: 2002-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant! Ken Follet deserves any award that ever existed for brilliant historical fiction! Pillars of the Earth is a masterpiece beyond compare. It has everything- romance and betrayal, war and destruction, and adventure like never before. I finished this book with a small tear in my eye...then picked it up again because I could not bear the idea of not living these peoples' live once more.
Date published: 2001-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pillars of the earth This is among the best of novels that I have read. It is undoubtedly to date one of Follet's best. The story starts well, in 12th century England and continues to grow throughout the entire passage. The main characters are vivid and each seems to intensify as the plot intermingles with each. In time I will read this novel again.
Date published: 2000-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Medival Saga! Although I found the book interesting, I found that the excessive detail about the architectural design of cathedrals became repetitive and caused the book to drag at times. However, in spite of this, the book was an enlightening saga of life during medival times. The book presents an interesting account of the power seekers use of the church to accoplish their goals. All in all a fairly satisfying read.
Date published: 2000-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterpiece! What can I say about this book? This is by far my favourite novel of all time. Even though it is 1000 pages, I have read it 3 times. You wouldn't think that a novel based on castle building in Medeival times would be a bit interesting, but I could not put the book down. The detail and imagery that Follet described was brilliant, and the pace and action were excellent. I just wish they would make this book into a movie! A highly recommended read.
Date published: 2000-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read I am only a young adult and I figured this book would be boring and uninteresting. Once I started reading, mostly out of sheer boredom; I was unable to put the book down. It was extremely well-written and captivated me throughout. Although it is 1000 pages long, I managed to finish it in a few days, and I was still thinking about it when I was finished. I have let friends borrow it since and they agree. This is a great story.
Date published: 1999-09-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pillars of the Earth Excellent book! Highly recommended - I couldn't put it down. I never thought a book of this nature would hold my attention but I was wrong. Read it, you'll love it!!
Date published: 1999-07-13
Date published: 1999-05-07

Extra Content

Read from the Book

Chapter 1In a broad valley, at the foot of a sloping hillside, beside a clear bubbling stream, Tom was building a house. The walls were already three feet high and rising fast. The two masons Tom had engaged were working steadily in the sunshine, their trowels going scrape, slap and then tap, tap while their laborer sweated under the weight of the big stone blocks. Tom’s son Alfred was mixing mortar, counting aloud as he scooped sand onto a board. There was also a carpenter, working at the bench beside Tom, carefully shaping a length of beech wood with an adz. Alfred was fourteen years old, and tall like Tom. Tom was a head higher than most men, and Alfred was only a couple of inches less, and still growing. They looked alike too: both had light-brown hair and greenish eyes with brown flecks. People said they were a handsome pair. The main difference between them was that Tom had a curly brown beard, whereas Alfred had only a fine blond fluff. The hair on Alfred’s head had been that color once, Tom remembered fondly. Now that Alfred was becoming a man, Tom wished he would take a more intelligent interest in his work, for he had a lot to learn if he was to be a mason like his father; but so far Alfred remained bored and baffled by the principles of building. When the house was finished it would be the most luxurious home for miles around. The ground floor would be a spacious undercroft, for storage, with a curved vault for a ceiling, so that it would not catch fire. The hall, where people actually lived, would be above, reached by an outside staircase, its height making it hard to attack and easy to defend. Against the hall wall there would be a chimney, to take away the smoke of the fire. This was a radical innovation: Tom had only ever seen one house with a chimney, but it had struck him as such a good idea that he was determined to copy it. At one end of the house, over the hall, there would be a small bedroom, for that was what earls’ daughters demanded nowadays—they were too fine to sleep in the hall with the men and the serving wenches and the hunting dogs. The kitchen would be a separate building, for every kitchen caught fire sooner or later, and there was nothing for it but to build them far away from everything else and put up with lukewarm food. Tom was making the doorway of the house. The doorposts would be rounded to look like columns—a touch of distinction for the noble newlyweds who were to live here. With his eye on the shaped wooden template he was using as a guide, Tom set his iron chisel obliquely against the stone and tapped it gently with the big wooden hammer. A small shower of fragments fell away from the surface, leaving the shape a little rounder. He did it again. Smooth enough for a cathedral. He had worked on a cathedral once—Exeter. At first he had treated it like any other job. He had been angry and resentful when the master builder had warned him that his work was not quite up to standard: he knew himself to be rather more careful than the average mason. But then he realized that the walls of a cathedral had to be not just good, but perfect. This was because the cathedral was for God, and also because the building was so big that the slightest lean in the walls, the merest variation from the absolutely true and level, could weaken the structure fatally. Tom’s resentment turned to fascination. The combination of a hugely ambitious building with merciless attention to the smallest detail opened Tom’s eyes to the wonder of his craft. He learned from the Exeter master about the importance of proportion, the symbolism of various numbers, and the almost magical formulas for working out the correct width of a wall or the angle of a step in a spiral staircase. Such things captivated him. He was surprised to learn that many masons found them incomprehensible. After a while Tom had become the master builder’s right-hand man, and that was when he began to see the master’s shortcomings. The man was a great craftsman and an incompetent organizer. He was completely baffled by the problems of obtaining the right quantity of stone to keep pace with the masons, making sure that the blacksmith made enough of the right tools, burning lime and carting sand for the mortar makers, felling trees for the carpenters, and getting enough money from the cathedral chapter to pay for everything. If Tom had stayed at Exeter until the master builder died, he might have become master himself; but the chapter ran out of money—partly because of the master’s mismanagement—and the craftsmen had to move on, looking for work elsewhere. Tom had been offered the post of builder to the Exeter castellan, repairing and improving the city’s fortifications. It would have been a lifetime job, barring accidents. But Tom had turned it down, for he wanted to build another cathedral. His wife, Agnes, had never understood that decision. They might have had a good stone house, and servants, and their own stables, and meat on the table every dinnertime; and she had never forgiven Tom for turning down the opportunity. She could not comprehend the irresistible attraction of building a cathedral: the absorbing complexity of organization, the intellectual challenge of the calculations, the sheer size of the walls, and the breathtaking beauty and grandeur of the finished building. Once he had tasted that wine, Tom was never satisfied with anything less. That had been ten years ago. Since then they had never stayed anywhere for very long. He would design a new chapter house for a monastery, work for a year or two on a castle, or build a town house for a rich merchant; but as soon as he had some money saved he would leave, with his wife and children, and take to the road, looking for another cathedral. He glanced up from his bench and saw Agnes standing at the edge of the building site, holding a basket of food in one hand and resting a big jug of beer on the opposite hip. It was midday. He looked at her fondly. No one would ever call her pretty, but her face was full of strength: a broad forehead, large brown eyes, a straight nose, a strong jaw. Her dark, wiry hair was parted in the middle and tied behind. She was Tom’s soul mate. She poured beer for Tom and Alfred. They stood there for a moment, the two big men and the strong woman, drinking beer from wooden cups; and then the fourth member of the family came skipping out of the wheat field: Martha, seven years old and as pretty as a daffodil, but a daffodil with a petal missing, for she had a gap where two milk teeth had fallen out and the new ones had not yet grown. She ran to Tom, kissed his dusty beard, and begged a sip of his bear. He hugged her bony body. “Don’t drink too much, or you’ll fall into a ditch,” he said. She staggered around in a circle, pretending to be drunk. They all sat down on the woodpile. Agnes handed Tom a hunk of wheat bread, a thick slice of boiled bacon and a small onion. He took a bite from the meat and started to peel the onion. Agnes gave the children food and began to eat her own. Perhaps it was irresponsible, Tom thought, to turn down that dull job in Exeter and go looking for a cathedral to build; but I’ve always been able to feed them all, despite my recklessness. He took his eating knife from the front pocket of his leather apron, cut a slice off the onion, and ate it with a bite of bread. The onion was sweet and stinging in his mouth. Agnes said: “I’m with child again.” Tom stopped chewing and stared at her. A thrill of delight took hold of him. Not knowing what to say, he just smiled foolishly at her. After a few moments she blushed, and said, “It isn’t that surprising.” Tom hugged her. “Well, well,” he said, still grinning with pleasure. “A babe to pull my beard. And I thought the next would be Alfred’s.” “Don’t get too happy yet,” Agnes cautioned. “It’s bad luck to name the child before it’s born.” Tom nodded assent. Agnes had had several miscarriages and one stillborn baby, and there had been another little girl, Matilda, who had lived on two years. “I’d like a boy, though,” he said. “Now that Alfred’s so big. When is it due?” “After Christmas.” Tom began to calculate. The shell of the house would be finished by first frost, then the stonework would have to be covered with straw to protect it through the winter. The masons would spend the cold months cutting stones for windows, vaults, doorcases and the fireplace, while the carpenter made floorboards and doors and shutters and Tom built the scaffolding for the upstairs work. Then in spring they would vault the undercroft, floor the hall above it, and put on the roof. The job would feed the family until Whitsun, by which time the baby would be a half year old. Then they would move on. “Good,” he said contentedly. “This is good.” He ate another slice of onion. “I’m too old to bare children,” said Agnes. “This must be my last.” Tom thought about that. He was not sure how old she was, in numbers, but plenty of women bore children at her time in life. However, it was true they suffered more as they grew older, and the babies were not as strong. No doubt she was right. But how would she make certain that she would not conceive again? he wondered. Then he realized how, and a cloud shadowed his sunny mood. “I may get a good job, in a town,” he said, trying to mollify her. “A cathedral, or a palace. Then we might have a big house with wood floors, and a maid to help you with the baby.” Her face hardened, and she said skeptically: “It may be.” She did not like to hear talk of cathedrals. If Tom had never worked on a cathedral, her face said, she might be living in a town house now, with money saved up and buried under the fireplace, and nothing to worry about. Tom looked away and took another bite of bacon. They had something to celebrate, but they were in disharmony. He felt let down. He chewed the tough meat for a while, then he heard a horse. He cocked his head to listen. The rider was coming through the trees from the direction of the road, taking a short cut and avoiding the village. A moment later, a young man on a pony trotted up and dismounted. He looked like a squire, a kind of apprentice knight. “Your lord is coming,” he said. Tom stood up. “You mean Lord Percy?” Percy Hamleigh was one of the most important men in the country. He owned this valley, and many others, and he was paying for the house. “His son,” said the squire. “Young William.” Percy’s son, William, was to occupy this house after his marriage. He was engaged to Lady Aliena, the daughter of the earl of Shiring. “The same,” said the squire, “And in a rage.” Tom’s heart sank. At the best of times it could be difficult to deal with the owner of a house under construction. An owner in a rage was impossible. “What’s he angry about?” “His bride rejected him.” “The earl’s daughter?” said Tom in surprise. He felt a pang of fear: he had just been thinking how secure his future was. “I thought that was settled.” “So did we all—except Lady Aliena, it seems,” the squire said. “The moment she met him, she announced that she wouldn’t marry him for all the world and a woodcock.” Tom frowned worriedly. He did not want this to be true. “But the boy’s not bad-looking, as I recall.” Agnes said: “As if that made any difference, in her position. If earls’ daughters were allowed to marry whom they please, we’d all be ruled by strolling minstrels and dark-eyed outlaws.” “The girl may yet change her mind,” Tom said hopefully. “She will if her mother takes a birch rod to her,” Agnes said. The squire said: “Her mother’s dead.” Agnes nodded. “That explains why she doesn’t know the facts of life. But I don’t see why her father can’t compel her.” The squire said: “It seems he once promised he would never marry her to someone she hated.” “A foolish pledge!” Tom said angrily. How could a powerful man tie himself to the whim of a girl in that way? Her marriage could affect military alliances, baronial finances… even the building of this house. The squire said: “She had a brother, so it’s not so important whom she marries.” “Even so…”“And the earl is an unbending man,” the squire went on. “He won’t go back on a promise, even one made to a child.” He shrugged. “So they say.” Tom looked at the low stone walls of the house-to-be. He had not yet saved enough money to keep the family through winter, he realized with a chill. “Perhaps the lad will find another bride to share this place with him. He’s got the whole county to choose from.” Alfred spoke in a cracked adolescent voice. “By Christ, I think this is him.” Following his gaze, they all looked across the field. A horse was coming from the village in a gallop, kicking up a cloud of dust and earth from the pathway. Alfred’s oath was prompted by the size as well as the speed of the horse: it was huge. Tom had seen beasts like it before, but perhaps Alfred had not. It was a war-horse, as high at the wither as a man’s chin, and broad in proportion. Such war-horses were not bred in England, but came from overseas, and were enormously costly. Tom dropped the remains of his bread in the pocket of his apron, then narrowed his eyes against the sun and gazed across the field. The horse had its ears back and nostrils flared, but it seemed to Tom that its head was up, a sign that it was not completely out of control. Sure enough, as it came closer the rider leaned back, hauling on the reins, and the huge animal seemed to slow a little. Now Tom could feel the drumming of its hooves in the ground beneath his feet. He looked around for Martha, thinking to pick her up and put her out of harm’s way. Agnes had the same thought. But Martha was not to be seen. “In the wheat,” Agnes said, but Tom had already figured that out and was striding across the site to the edge of the field. He scanned the waving wheat with fear in his heart but he could not see the child. The only thing he could think of was to try and slow the horse. He stepped into the path and began to walk toward the charging beast, holding his arms wide. The horse saw him, raised its head for a better look, and slowed perceptibly. Then, to Tom’s horror, the rider spurred it on. “You damned fool!” Tom roared, although the rider could not hear. That was when Martha stepped out of the field and into the pathway a few yards in front of Tom. For an instant Tom stood still in a sick panic. Then he leaped forward, shouting and waving his arms; but this was a war-horse, trained to charge at yelling hordes, and it did not flinch. Martha stood in the middle of the narrow path, staring as if transfixed by the huge beast bearing down on her. There was a moment when Tom realized desperately that he could not get to her before the horse did. He swerved to one side, his arm touching the standing wheat; and at the last instant the horse swerved to the other side. The rise’s stirrup brushed Martha’s fine hair; a hoof stamped a hole in the ground beside her bare foot; then the horse had gone by, spraying them both with dirt, and Tom snatched her up in his arms and held her tight to his pounding heart. He stood still for a moment, awash with relief, his limbs weak, his insides watery. Then he felt a surge of fury at the recklessness of the stupid youth on his massive war-horse. He looked up angrily. Lord William was slowing the horse now, sitting back in the saddle, with his feet pushed forward into the stirrups, sawing on the reins. The horse swerved to avoid the building site. It tossed its head and then bucked, but William stayed on. He slowed it to a canter and then a trot as he guided it around in a wide circle. Martha was crying. Tom handed her to Agnes and waited for William. The young lord was a tall, well-built fellow of about twenty years, with yellow hair and narrow eyes which made him look as if he were always peering into the sun. He wore a short black tunic with black hose, and leather shoes with straps crisscrossed up to his knees. He saw well on the horse and did not seem shaken by what had happened. The foolish boy doesn’t even know what he’s done, Tom thought bitterly. I’d like to wring his neck. William halted the horse in front of the woodpile and looked down at the builders. “Who’s in charge here?” he said. Tom wanted to say If you had hurt my little girl, I would have killed you, but he suppressed his rage. It was like swallowing a bitter mouthful. He approached the horse and held its bridle. “I’m the master builder,” he said tightly. “My name is Tom.” “This house is no longer needed,” said William. “Dismiss your men.” It was what Tom had been dreading. But he held on to the hope that William was being impetuous in his anger, and might be persuaded to change his mind. With an effort, he made his voice friendly and reasonable. “But so much work has been done,” he said. “Why waste what you’ve spent? You’ll need the house one day.” “Don’t tell me how to manage my affairs, Tom Builder,” said William. “You’re all dismissed.” He twitched a rein, but Tom had hold of the bridle. “Let go of my horse,” said William dangerously. Tom swallowed. In a moment William would try to get the horse’s head up. Tom felt in his apron pocket and brought out the crust of bread he had been eating. He showed it to the horse, which dipped its head and took a bite. “There’s more to be said, before you leave, my lord,” he said mildly. William said, “Let my horse go, or I’ll take your head off.” Tom looked directly at him, trying not to show fear. He was bigger than William, but that would make no difference if the young lord drew his sword. Agnes muttered fearfully, “Do as the lord says, husband.” There was dead silence. The other workmen stood as still as statues, watching. Tom knew that the prudent thing would be to give in. But William had nearly trampled Tom’s little girl, and that made Tom mad, so with a racing heart he said: “You have to pay us.” William pulled on the reins but Tom held the bridle tight, and the horse as distracted, nuzzling in Tom’s apron pocket for more food. “Apply to my father for your wages!” William said angrily. Tom heard the carpenter say in a terrified voice: “We’ll do that, my lord, thanking you very much.” Wretched coward, Tom thought, but he was trembling himself. Nevertheless he forced himself to say: “If you want to dismiss us, you must pay us, according to the custom. Your father’s house is two days’ walk from here, and when we arrive he may not be there.” “Men have died for less than this,” William said. His cheeks reddened with anger. Out of the corner of his eye, Tom saw the squire drop his hand to the hilt of his sword. He knew he should give up now, and humble himself, but there was an obstinate knot of anger in his belly, and as scared as he was he could not bring himself to release the bridle. “Pay us first, then kill me,” he said recklessly. “You may hang for it, or you may not; but you’ll die sooner or later, and then I will be in heaven and you will be in hell.” The sneer froze on William’s face and he paled. Tom was surprised: what had frightened the boy? Not the mention of hanging, surely: it was not really likely that a lord would be hanged for the murder of a craftsman. Was he terrified of hell? They stared at one another for a few moments. Tom watched with amazement and relief as William’s set expression of anger and contempt melted away, to be replaced with panicked anxiety. At last William took a leather purse from his belt and tossed it to his squire, saying: “Pay them.” At that point Tom pushed his luck. When William pulled on the reins again, and the horse lifted its strong head and stepped sideways, Tom moved with the horse and held on to the bridle, and said: “A full week’s wages on dismissal, as is the custom.” He heard a sharp intake of breath from Agnes, just behind him, and he knew she thought he was crazy to prolong the confrontation. But he plowed on. “That’s sixpence for the laborer, twelve for the carpenter and each of the masons, and twenty-four pence for me. Sixty-six pence in all.” He could add pennies faster than anyone he knew. The squire was looking inquiring at his master. William said angrily: “Very well.”Tom released the bridle and stepped back. William turned the horse and kicked it hard, and it bounded forward onto the path through the wheat field. Tom sat down suddenly on the woodpile. He wondered what had got into him. It had been mad to defy Lord William like that. He felt lucky to be alive. The hoof beats of William’s war-horse faded to a distant thunder, and his squire emptied the purse onto a board. Tom felt a surge of triumph as the silver pennies tumbled out into the sun-shine. It had been mad, but it had worked: he had secured just payment for himself and the men working under him. “Even lords ought to follow customs,” he said, half to himself. Agnes heard him. “Just hope you’re never in want of work from Lord William,” she said sourly. Tom smiled at her. He understood that she was churlish because she was frightened. “Don’t frown too much, or you’ll have nothing but curdled milk in your breasts when that baby is born.” “I won’t be able to feed any of us unless you find work for the winter.” “The winter’s a long way off,” said Tom.

Editorial Reviews

“A novel of majesty and power.”—Chicago Sun-Times