Set in twelfth century feudal England, The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett takes us to a time when life was hard for the “regular” people as rivals fight for the rule of England. The story is told mostly through the lives of three families; Brother Philip, a simple man of God who has a modest soul, but high aspirations and a cunning mind; Tom Builder who, as a master stone mason, wants to build a cathedral; and Aliena the high-born daughter of a once powerful earl. This era in history is brutal as might is always right and rulers care more about how their decisions benefit them rather than justice and religious men often accept that the ends justify the means.
This novel was recommended to my by my brother-in-law and it took me a while to get to it. It is hard not to compare this book to George Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice books and there are similarities though this was published 25 years ago. While Pillars contains plenty of tragedy there is often hope which is too often absent from the Martin books. This story, though long, reads very fast and I found the tale to be extremely interesting and entertaining.