the ordinary blog
Overall – Really enjoyable historical epic with plenty of action, sex and violence. On audible it represented fantastic value for money giving 40 hours of listening to John Lee’s easy on the ear narration for a single credit!
Whenever I go on holiday I always see someone reading a Ken Follett novel, mainly blokes and he has sold over 160 million books worldwide. Popularity is never the most precise judge but over time it is more consistent and Ken has been selling books for half a century. But which to read first? I broke my Lee Child duck last year and as they all involve Jack Ryan I figured the first book was the best place to start, but for Ken I wanted the best and the overwhelming internet opinion was that Pillars was the fan favourite.
Written in 1989 meant that the introduction was of reflection from the author which reminds me of directors commentaries which I got addicted to in the bonus features age of the DVD film. He described taking a big gamble from a profitable career in the thriller genre and how the book gathered momentum from word of mouth rather than critical success. The other thing I clearly remember is his talk of cathedrals and going across the country to visit them and spending 2 days going round them!! They are central to the book and he described having to read books and speak to experts to enable him to describe effectively .
From the opening scene of the hanging there is always drama just around the corner and some of the rape and torture scenes are not for the faint hearted. Life was hard and could be brutal in the 12th century and the book does not shy away from this reality. The characters have plenty of chapters to develop and Phillip perfectly links them all together. I couldn’t help wonder whether Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones was inspired by arch villain William Hamley. Just when you think the plot line might be starting to calm and drift a change in direction and usually location brings fresh energy and impetus which is the genius of a master story teller. No better example is Jacks adventures in France and Spain.
The cathedral is given star billing from Tom’s initial obsession very early into the story and the authors enthusiasm is infectious. They were the skyscrapers of their time and they are significant to most of the characters for a variety of reasons including faith, power, money and for their beauty and craftmanship. There was no finer dedication to God.
Christianity was central to life but this is not a religious book like Jordon M Petersons 12 Rules. The abuse and hypocrisy especially by Bishop Waldron is countered by the genuine caring Phillip but thankfully there is no sermon from the author and he doesn’t need to. For an author of many words he knows what to omit too.
Great books like ice cream come in many different flavours. Some like Wolf Hall and The Song of Achilles may appeal to critics more for their sophistication but others like The Hunger Games, Moneyball and I am pleased to Pillars of the Earth are popular because they just as fun to read. It may take me a few years but I will be finding the time to finish The Kingsbridge Trilogy.
Audiobook - 40 hours - Narrated by John Lee
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies