The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett Book Summary

#1 New York Times Bestseller

Oprah's Book Club Selection

The “extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece” (Booklist) that changed the course of Ken Follett’s already phenomenal career—and begins where its prequel, The Evening and the Morning, ended.

“Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner,” extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett’s unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal. 
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect—a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother.
A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s historical masterpiece.

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett Book Reviews

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- A Masterpiece5 star

Congratulations Mr. Follett, you’ve written a classic book of American literature. It’s easy to bond with the characters and the history of that era is eye opening. Brutally and beauty combined into a book you read well into the night. A job well done sir.

- Ok so listen you have to just try.5 star

I seriously can’t believe i’m reading this book. By no means a story set In the 12th century about the building of a cathedral interest me whatsoever, at first glance. But I must say this is probably the most compelling book I have ever read. I’m 12% in..

- Outstanding!5 star

I read this book 11 years ago for the first time and have reread it again. I didn’t think I’d like the time era for this book but there were so many twists and turns that I couldn’t put the book down. My friend was obsessed with this book so I purchased a copy and send it overseas to have the author sign it as a birthday gift. His sincerity made me love the book even more!

- Pillars of the earth4 star

Long read but worth it. .

- The best book I have ever read.5 star

This is the most riveting books you will read in your life. The story ensnares you until the very last page. Highly recommend!

- Excellent5 star

One of the best books I ever read.

- Excellent5 star

This is an excellent novel. I loved the plots, twist and turns and the historical information. I loved this book and I didn’t want it to end. Do read this book. This is Ken Follett at the top of his story telling. He is one of the greatest writers of all time.

- Captivating4 star

Really loved how everything is connected and every character is linked. The entire plot is really well planned it is aesthetically pleasing. The ending attempts to discuss bigger topics but feels a bit out of place. Overall, a great read.

- Great idea....drivel writing1 star

Wow. I had hoped for something truly extraordinary and epic, but this was filled with cliches and felt that the author was envisioning a predictable Mel Gibson schlocky movie while writing it. Big disappointment. There are far more intelligent pieces of works out there.

- I’m just going to say this — he is an amazing author!!!!5 star

I absolutely love all of his work, and appreciate all the details he puts into it.

- Nice easy read!5 star

Great historical content!

- Absolutely couldn’t stop reading.5 star

In my top ten favorite books all-time.

- Pedestrian writing and plot3 star

Too plodding and predictable—I felt like each paragraph was religiously written from an outline. I got halfway through and just decided I didn’t care anymore.

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

Superb! Wonderfully strong heroines. Enlightening.


I have read thousands of books. This will forever be my favorite.

- Didn't want to put it down5 star

Just an excellent read. Follett really knows how to develop his characters in such a way that you feel as if you know them. Very interesting information on building a church during the Middle Ages. I'm looking forward to reading the next in this series.

- Highly recommend5 star

One of my favorites of all time - a tale of intrigue, romance, faith, endurance, betrayal, and so much more. Do yourself a favor and give this one a shot.

- Terrific read5 star

I loved this book, a summer read, engaging, action packed and full of great details about people of the time. Recommend!

- Breathtaking!!!5 star

A master piece done by the author. I couldn't stop reading...I love it. It's a book with a lot emotion; sometimes I can feel the pain while I was reading some sad passage so the book. A fantastic book.

- Captivating !5 star

Remarkable saga of the Middle Ages, the church, the culture of corruption, the deplorable living conditions of the 1100's England. Fascinating study of the period and the building of great cathedrals, woven around the lives of a few flawed but dedicated individuals. Highly recommend.

- Spectacular!5 star

One of the finest books I have ever read. Brilliantly crafted over the course of decades with characters full of depth. The frustrations and triumphs during the build of the cathedral and the trials and tribulations of those involved in it's construction kept me deeply invested in this novel from beginning to end. Utterly incredible read!

- All time favorite book!!5 star

I could read this a million times and will still love it!!

- Absolutely wonderful5 star

Loved this book and its sequel is just a riveting!

- Loved every page5 star

This was my first Ken Follet book and I loved every second of it.

- A very looong story2 star

I like Ken Follet's writing, but this story is just waaaay to drawn out. And the worse thing about it is that it doesn't seem to go anywhere! If you are an architect with keen interest in cathedral design then i would suggest this book, otherwise steer clear..

- Epic5 star

Best book I have ever read. Couldn't put it down. Totally worth every penny.

- Unbelievable, astonishing, remarkable5 star

This world and the people in it will become part of you. Once the story ends you will want to begin again and live among your friends again and again. Love, hate, heartache and life happen in this book. Do yourself a favor and get lost in THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH. My favorite book of all time.

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

One of the best books I've ever read along with the following in this series (and I have read thousands of books). I don't think Ken Follet could write a book that you would be able to put down easily. He is a most impressive writer. His details are meticulous putting you right into the story along with his characters. You are there!

- Outstanding historical novel5 star

Well written and captivating. A great account of human character and good vs evil told through the lives of various people living in Southern England as Europe emerged from the Dark ages.

- Entertaining - a great way to learn about Medieval England4 star

I am happy this is the first Follett book I read as he seems to have some poor reviews on his earlier works. From the first page I was engrossed in this book. The way Follett takes characters in the 12th century and makes seem as real as if I spoke them yesterday is quite impressive. The book was almost too entertaining to be a novel labeled as historical fiction, so I began fact-checking. As near as I can determine, Follett appears to do his research. When you complete this book you will put it down wanting more, and luckily you can get that with the next book "World Without End." Also, you will find that you have actually learned history. You will know what it meant to be an Earl, the lands he managed, and the importance and power of the church. You might also find you suddenly know something about architecture in 12th century England. This will become more true after reading World Without End. Even if you only mildly enjoy history, chances are you will find this book entertaining.

- A bit slow at the beginning...5 star

But give it a chance. There are characters that will outrage you and others that will empower you. You'll fall in love. Any book that can create such strong emotions in its reader, whether negative or positive is a must-read in my eyes.

- A good read4 star

This was a good book that several people had encouraged me to read. I thought it started slowly but definitely picked up as the story unfolded.

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

Ken Follet has done it again! A long book with intriguing interplay of history and fiction and characters that always make one want MORE!

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

What an excellent read/adventure! True Ken Follett storyline and multiple character imagery.

- The Pillars of the Earth5 star

Great book loved the characters great ending cannot wait to read sequel.

- My introduction to Ken Follett and Kingsbridge Priory5 star

Loved this book even better than its sequel, World Without End. Wish there was a third book. I would like to visit Kingsbridge Priory another 100 or 200 years later. Hooray for Prior Phillip who remains true to his ideals and his God to the end while battling the force of evil and corruption in the church and nobility. Several great love stories here, too. Learned a lot about the 12th century England.

- Greatest ever5 star

Simply the greatest piece of literature ever read. Masterfully written by an author that continues to come better and better materially. You fall in love with some of the characters and you thoroughly hate some characters. Hands down favorite book ever and that's saying lot... Of course I just started reading World Without End and so far very impressive. I have never commented on a book but I felt like if one deserved it, it's this book right here.

- A Very Good Yarn!4 star

I read this book a couple of years ago. I could not put it down on bit. Though bulky, it was mesmerizing, astonishing, exhilarating, sensual, sorrowful, adventurous, and most importantly, masterfully written. Nii Gakpo-Ghana

- One of th best bolis ever written.5 star

A masterpiece! Enough said!

- Amazing!5 star

This was one of my most favorite book! I recommend it to any of my friends.

- Thoroughly enjoyed this book!4 star

This book was great. Got a little tedious in the last chapter. Otherwise, I would have rated it five stars.I am getting ready to read the "sequel" to it. Thought "Fall of the Giants" was better.

- Get it.5 star

I'm not even a Ken Follet reader. I was browsing around, bored of everything in my library. Read the reviews here. Downloaded a sample. After realizing I read the first two hundred pages and wanted more I knew I had to download. I'm a Ken Follet reader now! Engrossing, seamless storytelling. Well worth reading.

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

Couldn't put it down. The descriptions of the people and places made you feel like you were living with the characters. Can't waitnto see the miniseries.

- Overrated3 star

An easy read that won't tax you too much. POTE does not belong on the same shelf as other of Oprah's picks like The Poisonwood Bible, Middlesex, etc. Follett creates compelling characters in Prior Phillip, Tom Builder, Aliena, Jack and Ellen, but seems to tire of using them well from time to time and instead resorts to extreme stereotypes of Genius, Hero, Villian, Coward, Schemer, Victim. The book is long, and Follett resorts to trite soap operatic coincidences to propel his characters from one historical tableau to another. There is ample information here about Medieval craftspeople and commerce which is fascinating, but as a piece of writing, it's no cathedral.

- Pillars of the Earth5 star

The best book I ever read. Epic. I felt like I lost my best friend when I finished it.

- Highly recommended5 star

Absolutely wonderful storyteller! I downloaded a sample on iBooks and couldn't stop reading!

- Readable5 star

A GREAT book. A simple tale that thoroughly embraces you and draws you in, to the extent that you don't even realize how incredibly long the book is. To me this book, and it's sequel, are must-reads on everyone's list. I only wish Follet had made it into a trilogy.

- Epic5 star

This is one of the most amazing stories ever written. I rate Pillars, and it's sequel, World Without End, as second only to Lord of the Rings. Buy it - you won't be disappointed!

- Perfect book for iPad5 star

This is an awesome book- one of Favs of all time! Love the iPad as a reader and this book is great for the built in search. I looked up the areas and cathedrals the author wrote about and it added a lot of great background and history to the story. Buy it now you won't be disappointed.

- Not a page turner3 star

An ok tale with much description about cathedral building. I bought this for a vacation and was only moderately entertained.

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BallusWallup - Pillars of the Earth is amazing5 star

Years ago I bought a copy of this novel in paperback form. I read it, my mother read, then my visiting grandmother read it. She returned to England with it and my aunts and uncles and cousin read it. It travelled to Spain for more relatives to immerse in the historical fiction of Tom Builder and the people of Kingsbridge. The novel has made a crusade through many minds and captured many hearts with its indelible story of good versus evil.

2 Sticks - The Pillars of the Earth5 star

Great ended WELL... In that time in history there is no GOOD to end with.... So well is good.

devonsage - Surprisingly engaging5 star

Rarely does one find a book of this length so difficult to ever put down. Not only was the plot so engaging but the prose was so literary without being stilted.

Tkburke - Great read5 star

This story is a great read. I couldn't stop reading! I look forward to reading more of this authors books.

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Ken Follett - The Pillars of the Earth Comments

About Ken Follett Wiki

Kenneth Martin Follett, (born 5 June 1949) is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels who has sold more than 160 million copies of his works. Many of his books have achieved high ranking on best seller lists. For example, in the US, many reached the number 1 position on the New York Times Best Seller list, including Edge of Eternity, Fall of Giants, A Dangerous Fortune, The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, Winter of the World, and World Without End.
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