Student Review by Jordan S.: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet

Pillars of the EarthTitle: Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follet
Publisher: NAL Trade

Published: 2002

Summary (from Goodreads): As a new age dawns in England’s twelfth century, the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral sets the stage for a story of intrigue and power, revenge and betrayal. It is in this rich tapestry, where kings and queens are corrupt – and one majestic creation will bond them forever.

Jordan’s Review: The book Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett, is definitely not a book for everyone. It is set in the 1100s and follows the family of Tom Builder. They must roam around England, trying to find work for Tom and his son Alfred while also trying to feed his pregnant wife Agnes and their daughter Martha. While this book seems to be very historically accurate, some parts can be extremely dry, especially when the author deviates from the plot and explains a historical event that took place at the time, or when he explains about something pertaining to the time period. I enjoyed learning more about how it was like then and the conditions people had to deal with. It was definitely easy to see how people could become corrupt and immoral even in a world where religion was the most important thing. The characters have to deal with making decisions that can affect everyone, even if it’s the right thing, but more often than not the wrong thing. The author shows how family values do not always apply, and one must do things that make them happy, though they may be selfish.

I can say that I did enjoy this book, but it was very difficult for me to get through. The author was able to expand the plot and draw it out over a very long period of time, and this was good for explaining everything that was happening to each character (there were quite a few characters that had stuff going on), but this also confused me in some parts. In order to really understand what was going on, I had to read slowly and make sense of it all before I moved on. There were some dynamics of the book, that were only confusing because they do not apply to the world now, that I had to figure out because they were unknown to me until that point. Another thing that may be a problem about the book is that it’s very disturbing in some parts. If you don’t like books that deal with graphic things, then you shouldn’t read it. At the end of the book I felt like I had accomplished something because of the length and also because Follett was able to wrap up the plot very well. Almost every single one of my questions was answered, and I knew what happened to all the characters and where they ended up in the future.

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