Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

I am not normally a reader of historical fiction; nor am I usually a reader of very long books. Nevertheless, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett turned out to be one of the best books I have read in several years. The story begins in the year 1123 in England and continues to span fifty years and three countries, encompassing major historical events. Despite this vast scope, the plot centers around the building of a single cathedral in a small village called Kingsbridge. What delighted me most about this story is the way the author draws the reader into the mindset of the time period in which one’s social status—be it craftsman, merchant, monk, priest, knight, noble or royal—determines one’s destiny. The major characters come from different social classes, and the reader gets to know them intimately, despising some, loving others despite their human weaknesses. While medieval society’s literal Christian faith and sense of family honor may seem foreign to contemporary sensibilities, Follet portrays his characters’ so motives convincingly that their decisions seem natural, even necessary. Another enthralling aspect of the story is the political intrigue; maneuvers by rivals constantly shift the balance of and power, keeping readers on edge over the fortunes of the characters who claim their sympathies. For this reason, I recommend this book for fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones series. And this book also has a love-story component. Readers will cheer for star-crossed lovers to unite despite circumstances that mount against them. The pages of this book will fly by as you root for the characters you love to find success in the end.

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