The Pillars of the Earth Review
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Iíll admit that I was a bit frightened when my friend hefted this book and handed it to me, saying, ďYouíve got to read this book. Youíll love it.Ē After all, itís about a thousand pages long, and itís about historical stuff. This isnít an edge-of-your-seat, thousand-page Stephen King thriller. But my friend caught my attention when he added, ďItís about the priest who was killed in Canterbury -- and a bunch of other people.Ē

Say no more. Iíve been fascinated by Canterbury ever since I had the pleasure of visiting a couple of years ago. So I took on the challenge to read the book -- and I wasnít disappointed.

Let me make one point clear before I go on, though. When my friend said that it was about Thomas Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, who was martyred in the cathedral, he wasnít telling the whole story. Thomas plays a very small role in this book. But he does, however, make an appearance or two.

  
 
The book itself is about a number of characters -- so many characters, in fact, that it reminded me of the advice that my eighth-grade English teacher gave the class when she assigned The Hound of the Baskervilles. ďKeep an index card in the book as you read, and make notes of all of the characters, so you wonít forget who they are,Ē she told us. And that might be good advice for this book, too.

Itís difficult to go into too much detail about the plot of this book -- there are so many characters and intermingling stories. The main story, however, focuses on the fictional 12th century English town of Kingsbridge -- and on its battle to build a beautiful cathedral, despite the efforts of an opposing bishop, who uses the earl of a nearby town as a pawn in his selfish battles. Meanwhile, in Kingsbridge, a young, new prior is fighting to strengthen the town and its monastery, and a poor builder just wants to fulfill his dream of building his very own cathedral.

The Pillars of the Earth is a fascinating historical novel -- one that captured me right from the beginning and refused to let go until Iíd turned the last page. Follett weaves believable fictional characters and the occasional bit of fact into one of the most captivating books Iíve read in a long time. If youíre the least bit intrigued by English history -- by the castles and the cathedrals and the civil wars for the monarchy -- youíll enjoy every page of this book (even the gruesome battle scenes). And if you never gave a second thought to English history -- to the castles and cathedrals and the civil wars for the monarchy -- you definitely will after reading this book.

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