The Pillars of the Earth

The most expensive part of building is the mistakes.

The Pillars of the Earth is not what I expected. As the blurb said, it’s a book full of intrigue, action, and romance , but it’s also a giant of a book, set in the twelfth century, following the life and times of several families in a Middle Age English town through everything from daily life to the decades long building of a cathedral to a civil war.

It’s a brutal book at times, with vicious depictions of violence, war, and rape. Bad things happen to good people–and bad people; and just everyday people. If you’re looking for a happy book, this is not it. If you’re a younger reader, this is probably not the best to read. But if you want a book every bit as beautiful and intricate and impressive as the cathedrals described therein? Give it a try.

The characters really do make the book. You have a whole host of religious men, from good but powerless, to good but flawed, to power hungry but trying to do the right thing, to downright corrupt. You have earls and kings, little worried with the little people–until they lose everything. You have poor poor, some narrow minded and afraid, some willing to help in what little way you can. And they all feel real. For better or, often, for worse.

I very rarely read books set in the ‘real’ world, strongly preferring science fiction and fantasy. But every once in a while, I’m reminded that perhaps the real world can be every bit as real and magical as a fantasy.
Aside: It’s interesting how polarized the top reviews for this book are. And often loving or hating it for the same reasons. For each their own. Personally, I’d say give it a try.

Edit: This is actually my 100th book for the year! I’m a bit behind because of NaNoWriMo (wish me luck!) but it’s the most books I’ve read in a year since 2015! Onwards!

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