Pillars of the Earth: Book summary and reviews of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Pillars of the Earth

By Ken Follett

Pillars of the Earth
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Aug 1989,
    973 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Ken Follett had long been a staple of the bestseller lists for his novels of intrigue and espionage. Then came The Pillars of the Earth, a grand novel of epic storytelling that readers and critics quickly hailed as his crowning achievement.

In 12th-century England, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral signals the dawn of a new age. This majestic creation will bond clergy and kings, knights and peasants together in a story of toil, faith, ambition and rivalry. A sweeping tale of the turbulent middle ages, The Pillars of the Earth is a masterpiece from one of the world's most popular authors.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"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." - Publishers Weekly.

"This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction." - Library Journal.

"The vigor and intensity of the first half of the book may bring The Pillars of the Earth popular success. But half a book isn't good enough, especially at these prices. repetitious." - New York Times.

The information about Pillars of the Earth shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by J B Brush
Sensational history?
If you are interested in this historical period, the Great Anarchy, you should read the Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters. Her 20 volumes are mysteries set against the war between Maud and Stephen, but Peters' work is much more intelligent, and well-written.
One can suspect that Ken Follett benefited from Peters' meticulous research of the period. But his book is history sensationalized for the mass market.
I don't think I'll manage to read "Pillars of the Earth" all the way through.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Erin
Wonderful!
I think this book is wonderful. One should definitely not judge a book by it's cover, or even the first 60 pages... This book has been a page turner through and through, which I didn't expect and still don't understand how it is possible being so long. I definitely recommend it.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Rich
The Pillars of the Earth
I have to admit, I'm a bit mystified by the hype. Only 60 pages in, but may pass this to the trash heap. Passages like (loose quote) 'a cathedral is just like a church, but it's where the bishop lives' or 'a cathedral has three parts, a head, shoulders and a body.'
Well, no kidding. Thanks for explaining what a cathedral is. And no, it's not a head, shoulders and body, it's a cross.
And, again, only in the first 60 pages, it seemed like the daughter, Martha, was more like the Kenny character from the Comedy Central series "South Park." I mean, she was almost run down by a war horse and then clubbed by a mutilated thief.
I realize I perhaps have not read enough, but I keep saying to myself "Oh come on, please!"
I hate putting books down, so maybe a few more chapters.
If you want a better book of the same period, a true masterpiece, read 'Narcissus and Goldman" by Hermann Hesse.
It wasn't selected for Oprah's book club, which may be a good thing. Only read one of other book on that list and it was junk. The only other I heard about was a fraud.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Betty
Loved it.....all 900 pages
I can't believe there are so few reviews of this novel. Don't let the thickness of this book scare you away. At first I thought it would take me forever to finish it. The story and characters captured me right away and I had a hard time putting it down. It is now one of my all time favorite books.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Beth
I can't believe.....
There isn't one reader review? This is one of my all time favorites! A must read!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Ken Follett Author Biography

Photo by Barbara Follett

Ken Follett was born on 5 June 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector. He was educated at state schools and graduated from University College, London, with an Honours degree in philosophy (he was made a Fellow of the college in 1995).

He became a reporter, first with his home-town newspaper the South Wales Echo and later with the London Evening News. While working on the Evening News he wrote his first novel, which was published but did not become a bestseller. He then went to work for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director. He continued to write novels in his spare time. Eye of the Needle was his eleventh book, and his first success. Around 100 million copies of his books have been sold worldwide.

He ...

... Full Biography
Link to Ken Follett's Website

Name Pronunciation
Ken Follett: fohl-ette

Other books by Ken Follett at BookBrowse
  • The Hammer of Eden jacket

9 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Take This Man
    Take This Man
    by Brando Skyhorse
    "A chorus of six men calling me Son might sound ludicrous to you, but to me it's the sound of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"


    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  133Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.