A historical novel that follows the struggles of a priest, an ambitious builder and a selfish bishop in 12th century England, Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth” is an exceptionally well-written, enthralling book.
Incorporating as many characters as seemingly possible, an index card as a bookmark may be handy to keep track of who is who. The storyline connects every individual in an unexpected and uniquely planned way.
Set in Kingsbridge, Prior Phillip, an ambitious and pure priest, is in the process of rebuilding a grand cathedral. Despite his purely religious reasoning, Phillip is faced by a jealous, politically driven bishop who plans Phillip’s ruin. A selfish earl, William Hamleigh, is a pawn used by the bishop against Phillip, dashing his hopes again and again.
The struggle for creating the cathedral is aided by Tom Builder, a stonemason whose dream is to build his own cathedral. Within his struggle to find a cathedral and finally complete the building, Tom is faced with the death of his beloved wife, the sudden acquisition of another, and familial struggles.
Each character is intricately intertwined, with Phillip hiring Tom, finding and aiding Aliena who is William’s desire and archenemy.
The story line ranges from drama to battlefields to love, creating a picture of England that includes the dramatic Gothic architecture being incorporated at the time, and the wars over the monarchy. Including facts such as the betrayals and wars betweens kings and fiction, Follett generates an exquisite novel.
The battle between Queen Maud and King Stephen is a pivotal inclusion. Religion had to rely heavily on the acceptance and following of those in power. If one king rose who did not follow a certain faith, priests were faced with difficulties. The political nuances that Follett includes generate an underlying tension surrounding each decision the characters make.
The intricacy of the story line perpetuates interest, making it difficult, almost impossible, to stop reading. It is one of those rarely-found novels that keeps a reader interested and entertained through all 1,000 pages.
Don’t be intimidated by the length, because this is one of the few books that does not insert petty information or random, useless tangents. Each piece of information is incorporated later on and is an essential piece to the entire struggle.
Follett also emphasizes the importance of religion in that era. The struggles that reigned over religious positions, as well as between religious figures over certain areas were a large influence. Follett reveals the corruption that was sometimes found in the hierarchy, and emphasizes the damage that could be wrought by jealousy.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.