The Pillars of the Earth is an international best-seller, having a huge amount of copies sold all over the world. The historical novel written by Ken Follett was translated to over 30 languages and there are more than 150 million copies sold until now. The book was appreciated by critics and also by readers in the whole world and it actually became a “must” of today’s literature. Even Oprah Winfrey chose it as to be read in the 60th edition of Oprah’s Book Club, but it was also selected among Exclusive Books’ “1001 Books to Read in a Lifetime”. Even more, the book was adapted as a mini-series of 8 episodes created by BBC and nominated at the Golden Globes. There were also at least three board games created on the topic of the book and a video game will be released in 2017.
In a world of civil war, of hunger and religious fights, the amazing Kingsbridge cathedral raises. And here, in this land, some destinies encounter each other and influence a whole world: Philip, a devoted abbot who wishes to raise the biggest cathedral of them all, Tom Builder, the mason who became an architect, a man with a broken heart … beautiful and mysterious Lady Aliena, who has a dirty secret. There’s also a fight between the good and the evil that will turn church against the royalty and man against man. An amazing story of ambition, anarchy and supreme power, in the England of the 12th century, a great masterpiece signed by Ken Follett.
The Story of The Pillars of the Earth
Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel written by Ken Follett and published in 1989 and the action is described around the building of a cathedral in the imaginary city of Kingsbridge, in England. The action happens during the 12th century, in an atmosphere of anarchy, between the sink of the White Ship and the murder of Thomas Becket. The book talks about the development of the Gothic architecture and the fortune owned by the Kingsbridge’s abbot that struggled raising while all in England was falling.
The book was number 33 in BBC’s Big Read and Follett also published a follow up for this book in 2007 – World Without End.
Tom Builder, loosing his rights to build a home for Percy’s Hamlegiht son, William, walks with his family to the South of England to find some work. After he looses his wife at the birth of his child, he meets mysterious Ellen and her son, Jack in the forests. So Tom decides to remain in Kingsbridge, where he was supposed to build a cathedral for Philip, the abbot. Searching for money for the building, Philip talks to King Stephen and gets the land and the right to extract stone from the Shiring quarry that belongs to the new count. In order to get the king’s favors, Percy wants to kill as soon as possible the count of Shiring, Bartholomew, because he finds out that the count wanted to get rid of Stephen and make a queen of his cousin, Maud, a descendent of Henric who died in strange circumstances. Daughter of Bartholomew, Aliena refuses to mary William Hamleigh.
Bartholomew was prisoned and sentenced to hanging and Aliena and her little brother, Richard remain prisoners in their own castle, that is now property of Percy Hamleigh. William finds them both in the castle, he rapes Aliena and cuts a piece of Richard’s ear. Without a home, the two leave to meet King Stephen but they are not received and instead, they get to see their father in jail. Bartholomew asks them to swear they will take back the Shiring domain from Hamleigh. Aliena struggles to help her brother become one of the King’s knights and fight in the civil war against Maud to get the domain back. Richard finally manages to get the King’s attention after he defends him in the Lincoln Battle.
During all these Events
Tom starts building the cathedral and lives together with his children, Martha and Alfred and his woman, Ellen and her son, Jack. Alfred hates Jack and beats him on and on and once, Alfred tells Abott Philip that his father and Ellen are not married. Hating the life with the monks, Ellen takes Jack and goes back in the forests. Tom argues the abbot and when Ellen returns, after one year, he tries to convince the abbot to forgive her and allow them to get married. Now both builders, Alfred and Jack fight again. Even if he is a better worker and sculptor, Jack is not allowed anymore to work for the cathedral, but he is given the right to become a young monk in order to stay in Kingsbridge.
After Percy dies, William and Richard fight for the Shiring domain, which is now broke. To regain his fortune, William burns Kingsbridge and kills lots of people, among them even Tom Builder. Aliena got to make a great fortune after selling wool, but she looses all in the fire and she’s once again left on the streets. She sees herself forced to marry Alfred who promises to sustain Richard with money, even if she and Jack were in love. Aliena and Jack spend together the night before the wedding, but she still marries Alfred.
Jack Travels to France
He proves to be a gifted man, but he doesn’t know Aliena is pregnant. In Kingsbridge, Alfred convinces the abbot to replace the wooden roof with one made of stone. The building crushes during the first service and kills lots of people, but Aliena is shown after she gave birth to a little boy with red hair as Jack’s so she is sent away from home. She leave to search for Jack and she finds him in Spain. They return to Kingsbridge, but Abbot Philip cannot marry them as Aliena was still married to Alfred.
After a lot of years, the Kingsbridge cathedral is finished, thanks to Jack’s ideas, but the conflicts go on.
Some readers said this is the best historical novel they read after Henryk Sienkiewicz’s “Quo Vadis” and even Homer’s “Iliad”.
Top 6 Characters
Even if the book is more than 1.000 pages long, people can’t take their hands off it once they start reading. The characters are very complex and have great described personalities. Even when reading, you can actually see all of them in front of your eyes and the author described them and their actions so great that you can even imagine the way they talk or act. So here is a list of reader’s favorite Top 6 Characters in Pillars of the World.
- Top 6 Character in Pillars of the Earth 6th-4th Place
- Top 6 Character in Pillars of the Earth 3rd-1st Place