March 5, 2011

Review : The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Title : The Pillars of the Earth
Author : Ken Follett
Reading Dates : 1 Feb - 12 Feb 2011
The Pillars of the Earth [Mass Market Paperback]
Books in the series include :
  • The Pillars of the Earth
  • World Without End
From goodreads :
A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, this historical epic-a twelfth-century tale of the building of a mighty Gothic cathedral-stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity

Book Review of The Pillars of the Earth.
Although The Pillars of the Earth was a good story, I still felt more than a bit let down. There are 2 main reasons for this.

The first being the difference with what I expected from the story and the actual tale being told. Here I was expecting some grand epic about the building of a cathedral, prepared to be swept away by the main characters’ extraordinary dream and enthralled by the struggles involved in achieving it. Instead, the building of the cathedral while being the cause of many of the characters woes, is just the backdrop to the story. In fact, the feeling I got was that any other reason for the conflicts between the protagonists and antagonists would do. It just happened that the cathedral was one of the points of contention.

The other reason was the prologue and ending which I found puzzling. The prologue seemed to indicate a tale of conspiracy and vengeance. But the mystery is just touched on occasionally throughout the book and when resolved just ends with a whimper.

The above and Tom Builder are the reasons why the story has a slow start. As the person who first dreams of the building of the cathedral, Tom is unexpectedly rather boring. The explanation for why he’s so determined to build the cathedral and what spurred him to sacrifice his family’s security for it never seems all that compelling. For someone who has a supposedly grandiose dream, he seems rather sorely lacking in imagination.

What I did enjoy were the maneuverings of Phillip and Jack to get what they want. How they outwit their enemies, whether by fair or foul means, were often ingenious and exciting. The twists and turns often had me reading on with baited breath. Which is why the middle part of the book is my favourite. And the reason I’d re-read the book.

My conclusions :
  • Would I re-read the book ? Maybe, but not often.
  • Would I want to read the next book in the series ? Since I already bought it, yes. But if I didn't own it, probably not.
  • Would I want to own my personal copy if I didn’t already own it ? No.
  • Who would I recommend this too? Historical fiction fans.
  • For those looking to read the book, would I recommend buying or borrowing the book? I'm reserving judgement until I finish the final book.

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