About a week ago, I finally finished reading The Pillars of the Earth. My initial intention was to review each part as I got through it but soon after I realized that it wasn’t such a good idea. Once the story picked up, I could not put it down and regretted not being able to take the book around with me. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Don’t be discouraged by the size.
The Pillars of the Earth is an incredible story full of intrigue, romance, history, and architecture. The novel is set in the middle of the 12th century and centered around the building of Kingsbridge’s cathedral. It follows the lives of several characters, particularly those of Prior Philip, Tom Builder, Ellen, Aliena, Jack, Waleran Bigod, and William Hamleigh. The stories of the characters are intermingled as their lives are affected in one way or another by the construction of the cathedral. Most of the characters were driven by ambition, pride, love, and/or promises.
Among the things that I enjoyed about this book was that most of the female characters were not damsels in distress. Although they were victims of injustice and tyranny they were also survivors. The women of the story were clever and were not only able to recover but also succeed. I am not sure how historically accurate their success is for the 12th century. On the other hand, most of the men in the story seemed dependent on women helping them out or telling them what to do, particularly Richard. Richard’s character was actually rather annoying.
My favorite characters were Prior Philip, Ellen, Aliena, and Jack. Ellen seemed to belong to another time period. Her independence, boldness, bluntness, and sense of justice seemed at times slightly out-of-place. Both, Prior Philip and Jack, shared an innocence about the world that was endearing but were quick to figure things out.
I decided to read The Pillars of the Earth after watching the Starz TV adaptation. I have to say that I liked the ending of the Starz TV adaptation a little better. But the ending of the book was satisfying.