I’ve been sitting here staring at the blinking cursor helplessly trying to come up with a way to begin this review. No full sentences come to mind… expect for isolated words desperately scrambling around to make some articulate descriptions: emotionally exhausting is the first one that comes to mind. I’m not sure if it’s a good kind of exhausting feeling. Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth is a thousand pages of intense character development in a plot with prolific historical references and mood. I don’t think this book should be read in bits and pieces – which I did – and I think it would’ve made a more positive difference if I read it in a single setting.
Although the book is extremely lengthy, the writing style is uncomplicated and easy to follow. I’m not a big fan of historical books but this one was quite intriguing from the beginning. The novel takes place in the 12th century in a small town called Kingsbridge, England. There is a rundown church that eventually burns down, and it is this conflagration that begins to unfold the lives of the characters trying to survive the changes of the power struggle between church and state, and a civil war to determine England’s new monarch. At the center of the church restoration is each character’s desires and frustrations to build a bigger, better life. It’s a bit hard to believe (keeping in mind the time & setting) what the characters are willing to do to get whatever it is they want. There are many characters throughout the book, and most of them eventually cross paths for unexpected and melodramatic reasons.
There are many brutal, violent scenes, and not to mention, vulgar sex scenes which didn’t really seem relevant to me for plot development. It’s a suspenseful espionage slash historical saga with lots of complex character relationships and unpredictable twists and turns. This is actually my boyfriend’s favorite book but I don’t think it’s going to be added to mine (and I’m pretty sure he won’t take offense.) It’s worth reading if you like heavy historic dramas, and if you have a big chunk of reading time.
dee’s recommendation: 3.5/5