Review: Pillars of the Earth

Title: Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follet


In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age. (Taken from here)

Positive Elements

The story line is compelling. The author is so vivid with the details reading this book makes you feel like you are part of the 12th century. You empathize with the characters and their plights. It is a classic good vs evil saga. This book has elements in the story that would appear to variety of readers; a love story, war, medieveal history. It is a long book, 900 pages, it moves very fast. It almost like watching a good movie.

Sexual Content

There was more sexual content in this book than I imagined there would be. Early on in the book there is a rape scene between two of the central characters of the story that sets the stage for the entire storyline. There are also several vivid descriptions of sexual encounters between the characters. Some, I believe a little to gratitous and not necessary to the overall story.

Violent Content

The setting of this novel is 12 century England otherwise known as the Dark Ages. A term you will understand much more after reading this book. This time in history was known for its savage wars, unmatched cruelty and desperate means of survival. There are many paticularly violent scenes. The book open with the hanging of a thief. This sets stage for more savage acts including rape, murder and torture. I was a little disturbed by the amount of violence in the book. Some of the violence was central to the storyline in helping the reader understand the conditions of 12 century lifestyle. I often skipped over detailed descriptions of fighting and the war as I thought it was unecessary to the plot of the novel.

Profanity Content

I do remember several instances of profanity. It would seem to appear in random points through the book. Much of the profanity is related to the degradation of women.

Drug Content

None that I recall.


This book covers two generations and their quest to survive one of the most brutal periods of history. I would give caution to those readers who are sensitive to violence, as Follet spares no details in their description. The plot of this novel revolves around the building of magnificent cathedral. However, I would not call this a religious or Christian book by any means. The priests and the bishops portrayed in the book are the most ruthless and corrupt characters of the entire book. The novel certainly doesn’t provide a reader with a very positive view of the early times of the church. I thought that the story was well written and the characters are well developed. This book is well over 900 pages. So it will take some time to finish this book.


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