Monday, February 11, 2008

Book Review: The Pillars of the Earth

Okay... so Cherylann was right. This book rocks. At 989 pages, this book is truly epic, and because I still don't consider myself an official "reader," an epic novel was quite a challenge for me.

A summary from the author's website:
In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

Admittedly, the first 50-100 pages were hard. It's not that the book wasn't interesting - it was - but I'm not used to reading fiction, so it took me awhile to get into the rhythm of the story. This book is incredibly detailed, with a slew of main characters. Tons! Off the top of my head: Tom Builder, Philip, the Bishop, William, Jack, Aliena, Ellen, the church... I wonder if the writer is really just that great at character development, or if epics, by their very complex nature, allow for better development. Thoughts? Discuss amongst yourselves.

As I told Cheryl, I found a lot of the book very graphic... it's not that I'm a prude, but some of the language just makes me uncomfortable. On top of that, some of the violence was really hard to read. I'd like to think that some of this could have been avoided, but that might not be true. The time period of the book is Old English/Medieval, and the violence and barbarian-like nature of the events play into that. Was it necessary? In all likelihood, probably.

What I loved about the book was its fabulous character development (which I mentioned), it's rich detail, and most importantly, that it wasn't any one kind of novel. It was all novels. It was a mystery, a drama, an adventure, and a love story. The story surpassed period constraints in the telling of it, yet leaned heavily on the details of the time period for atmosphere. It's just incredible, it really is. And it's really worth your while to pick it up and give it a try.

At the end of the novel, there was no more than a three page sneak peak into the sequel, World Without End. I know Cheryl started it , and she probably finished it, but after reading those three pages I knew I'd have to read it. I'll read a few books in between, of course, but there's no doubt that World Without End is making it onto my 2008 reading list.


Blogger cherylann said...

I did read World Without End. It was great. I think that Pillars will always be my favorite, but I think Ken Follett did a wonderful job on WWE. The character developement is definitely there, and there are still graphic scenes, and although it was good and I will probably read it several more times... it disappointed me in a few ways (that we can discuss after you've read it). It's a long one. But, I'm really glad you enjoyed Pillars. When I tell people about it I say... It's about a man, who has a dream. And in helping that dream come to fruition he finds a life. *sigh* I love that book.

February 12, 2008 1:39 AM  
Blogger Broadsheet said...

WWE is waiting patiently on my coffee table for me to pack it in my suitcase and take it on a 10 day trip to Aruba next week, where it will get sand and margarita stains all over it.....

February 12, 2008 9:12 AM  

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