My greatest achievement of the week was I finished reading a massive 1079 pages of epic historical saga – Pillars of the Earth. It is embarrassing to also mention that I have been reading this book since last Christmas, it definitely took some time for me to FINALLY finished the book.
Now this is how it looks like – as thick as a brick, I felt armed when holding this book in the public.
My dad recommended the book to me and by the time he enthusiastically shoved the book into my hands, I hesitated whether I should even start with the first page. The back cover does not tell much apart from the book is all about building a cathedral in the middle ages, from White Ship disaster to the murder of Thomas Becket (which later on I found out the historical significance of the incidents ). I am not a fan of architecture or middle ages history, man how can I bore myself with 1079 pages of petty details about these subjects? However with great trust in my dad’s taste, I started the first page, the second page and I was totally hooked!
This is a book that is not only highly entertaining, it is also highly engaging. The narration is so vivid that all your senses are so sensitive to the characters. It is not a book that makes you cry uncontrollably, like Mitch Albom’s, but it is a book that angers and haunts you. The emotional roller coaster ride that it takes you is remarkable.
There are a few themes in the book, apart from the building of the cathedral, it tells about people’s suffering and delights. It tells about the strength of the righteous and kind hearted, the weakness of the evil and wicked. It tells about the impossible love that turned possible, and the inevitable revenge of hatred. My favourite character is Prior Phillip, he is always noble, bold and God fearing, he is the most consistent character in the book.
Strong women are praised and highlighted in the book, Aliena, Ellen and even Agnes, each possesses own charming resistance and persistence. However the development of some characters for instance Aliena seemed to me illogical especially the part when she decides to marry Alfred. From a confident woman she becomes submissive and fearful of the husband, which is so-not Aliena! Of course some may argue that the change of her character is due to a series of circumstances, but I just feel the physiological and emotional struggles were not elaborated enough to make Aliena change. Ellen’s pain after losing Tom was not great to believe that she loves him.
The book can be lengthy at times, the part which I find particularly unnecessary long was a scene of the fight between a bear and some dogs before the fire of the fleece fair. There are many x-rated scenes as well which I find them too detailed.
Of all the reviews, I found this review the most objective (spoiler alert, you may want to skip the summary if you have not read the book). Oprah Winfrey made an open recommendation of the book as well, so check out what she talked about the book:
All in all, the book is a great read. Ken Follet is undeniably an awesome story teller and I am now embarking on the sequel – World Without End. Hopefully it will take me lesser than 6 months to finish reading.