The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect – a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.
Beginning with a grim scene of a hanging and a curse, the book is off to a flyer. Set in the 12th century this medieval saga will probably appeal to anybody who enjoys Game of Thrones. (based on the War of the Roses in the 15th century) with plenty of violence, sex, treachery, religion and politics as well as somebody saying ‘winter’s coming’ and a bit of soap opera thrown in for good measure.
Pillars is a beast of a book in terms of size and being from a thriller writer you can expect it to be pacy which it is for the most part, with pivotal events turning up regularly and plenty of struggles of various kinds along the way. It’s also a love letter to architecture and an interesting glimpse into the building of such majestic edifices which provide a great backdrop to which the storylines orbit around,
The reader is introduced to a world where security is a rare thing and mortality is a very real concern. Life is hard with so little freedom, being at the mercy of the powerful landowners, an odious bunch manoeuvring for their own gains. Everybody is vulnerable to the whims of these few for which loyalty is just the rumour of a concept. It’s for this reason that the book felt a little gruelling to begin with and not the read itself which is bestseller fare and isn’t a challenge to read but initially I cared for the characters wanted the best for them which of course didn’t happen.
After reading through several hundred pages, aspects of the plot were becoming predictable and in some parts a bit too repetitious. It was all a bit predictable, I found myself gauging the long-term rather than being concerned for the characters in the immediate pages and it wasn’t particularly challenging to guess correctly where the character arcs were going. I found I could appreciate the character’s journey better if I treated it as inevitable rather than waiting for something spectacular ro happen.
It felt vaguely cyclical at times for some characters – then again that is true through family generations in real life – but also events which were more jarring as it’s unoriginal to repeat the same things in the same book. The protagonists were a bit uninteresting as well, there wasn’t much to them, two-dimensional for the most part and once they were established they adhered rigidly to their values which was a shame, we needs a Gollum type figure to mix things up and keep things dramatic. Read the rest of this entry »