Badkittyuno’s #CBR5 Review #66: The Pillars of the Earth (The Pillars of the Earth #1) by Ken Follett

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“Having faith in God did not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It meant believing you would find success if you did your best honestly and energetically.”

This book has been sitting on my “to-read” shelf for probably a year. I’ve been waiting for the right time to tackle it and its equally enormous sequel. Maternity leave seemed like an appropriate time. I read its thousand pages in big gulps while the baby napped, and eagerly began the sequel the moment I finished. For such a large tome, it moves rapidly and I found it difficult to put down.
The Pillars of the Earth takes place in the twelfth century, primarily in an English village called Kingsbridge. The main focus is the building of a cathedral, but its scope is much larger, encompassing all of the many people who must be involved in the project, which takes place over decades. Follett teaches the reader about Gothic architecture as his characters fight and scheme to make it happen (or not). Of course, it is a Ken Follett novel, so expect a lot of violence, including some rapes. I did love that he included some strong female characters though, especially the high-born Aliena. And his prior Phillip is a wonderfully interesting and sympathetic character.
In many ways, The Pillars of the Earth reminded me of Game of Thrones. It’s expansive, contains many characters and a lot of backstabbing. The focus here is church politics, but the royalty definitely play into it. I wouldn’t say Follett’s writing is as good as Martin’s, but if you enjoy Game of Thrones, I’d suggest picking this up as well.

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