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Summary

Set in the turbulent times of 12th century England where civil war, famine, religious strife, and battles over royal succession tore lives and families apart, The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of the building of a magnificent cathedral.

Against this richly imagined backdrop, filled with intrigue and treachery, Ken Follett draws the reader irresistibly into a wonderful epic of family drama, violent conflict, and unswerving ambition. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, the dreams, labours, and loves of his characters come vividly to life. The Pillars of the Earth is, without doubt, a masterpiece, and has proved to be one of the most popular books of our time.

© Ken Follett; (P) Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Critic reviews

"Richard E. Grant's virtuoso vocal characterisation is a shortcut to establishing the colourful variety of the enormous cast. If you become addicted, you can follow it up with the just-released sequel, the even longer World Without End, also read by Grant." Christina Hardyment ( The Times Books)

What listeners say about The Pillars of the Earth

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely absorbing

I had always meant to read this book, but never quite got around to it. The size of the volume might have had something to do with it. I even hesitated to purchase the audiobook when I saw that it required four separate downloads. However, I am really happy it did. I couldn't put it down. What a great story. It was Ken Follet's passion and it shows. Richard Grant does a fabulous job of narration. Not only is his voice a pleasure to listen to - he handles the various characters beautifully. Buy this book. You won't regret it.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Its so short that the storyline has been killed off. I should have never bought this & the sequel. Stick with the good old book and read the full story.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

not as the author intended

firstly let me say that I love this book! in fact, I would say its up in my top 5 books that i have ever read. also let me say that I don't doubt that Grant's naration is superb.

it is hard however to think of this long masterpiece cut to shreds for a 9 hour audio book. Its particularly hard to accept given that there is an unabridged version available over on audible.com that, as another reviewer points out, we can't have. I'd love to know why, particularly as some of his other books are available in unabridged format. I can only hope that audible will see fit to sort out the rights issue and allow British readers the chance to have the unabridged version of this modern classic... wonder if they'll let this be published?

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too many cuts

I always prefer unabridged books and this abridged version confirmed that view. I had read this book many years ago and wanted to refresh my memory before reading the sequel ?World Without End?. I loved the book when I first read it, the images it conjured up and the emotion it stirred in me. I was so disappointed in this rather butchered substitute. A colourful epic novel has been turned into a short sharp narrative that almost seems to want to get the story over too quickly. There?s no time for real character development or to understand feelings and relationships. I was looking forward to listening to ?World Without End? ? but not unless there is an unabridged version.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A true masterpiece

This book is an amazing piece of historical fiction. It's set against the background of the civil war between the followers of King Stephen and Empress Maud (with the murder of Thomas Beckett thrown in), and follows the situations surrounding the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral.

It's a bit of an unusual book in that there's no particular hero - the book follows various people over the time from before the building of the cathedral, to after it was completed many years later.

I was a bit worried about the narration, as I'm not a fan of Richard Grant's, but he did a fantastic job. I didn't want to stop listening to this story. I'm looking forward to getting 'World Without End' (the sequel) and hope it's as good as Pillars.

If you like historical fiction, you MUST get this book!

3 people found this helpful

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A really enjoyable listen

I’ve never really listened to audiobooks or been much of a fan of them but I wanted to try to listen to books due to how little time I have in a day to read physical copies, especially because of work and other commitments. I have to say that I was really impressed by the narrator and how he read this epic.
Any critiques I have are more for the story itself, I found myself unsatisfied with the ending but on the whole I have a positive opinion of the book and the characters, which were portrayed wonderfully. I would definitely listen to the sequel!

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Brilliant

So interesting. History and fiction make a great read. Narration was well done. Thanks.

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Excellent!

This story is so captivating and well written, only excelled by Richard E. Grant's fantastic work narrating. I have thoroughly enjoyed this purchase and looking forward to the next book. The weekend is set for sure!

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    4 out of 5 stars

Historically interesting but lacklustre narration

I have greatly enjoyed other works by this author, but for some reason this book failed to captivate. Partly I think because the narration was rather flat and partly because I found the jumps in time a bit jerky. Worth the listen, just not one of his best.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Unexpectedly Brilliant

I did not really know what to expect but I was hooked and loved every moment of this book. I have just discovered to my joy that there are 2 further books in the series so I have downloaded them straight away! Well done Ken best book I've read/listened to in a long time!!

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Michelle
  • 29-11-08

poorly abridged

No doubt a good book but spoiled by being poorly abridged - and of course no unabridged version available in my geographical location!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Colin
  • 22-03-08

Cinematic

Ken Follett writes with such vivid prose it's impossible not to drop into his world as he projects the story directly onto your imagination. Whilst the ending is a little rushed it is a deeply satisfying tale full of adventure, courage, loss, retribution and the full melodramatic palette. There is also screeds of fascinating information of time, place and matters architecture.
Highly recommended.


1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-10-18

brilliant and engaging story

Ken Follett is a master...vivid story telling and brilliantly pieced together tale. Also, this narrator is phenomenal! it was hard to tear myself away

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Margaret Murray
  • 25-06-10

Pillars of the Earth

A great author that took me along the journey of hardship, sadness, relief, anger, cruelty, self obsessed people, generous people, heartache, determination and survival. The book ending was a slight anti climax and seem to end before it should have but I think that about good movies I want them to go on forever.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • DIANA GILLATT
  • 01-08-09

Long and heavy

Well this certainly killed time in the car, but how it drags on. Not my best read of the year.