Length Of Time In Possession : 10 months
If I could summarise The Pillars Of The Earth plot wise in one sentence, that sentence would be
"A monk attempts to build a cathedral"but in many ways this belies the novel, and makes it sound simplistic and dull of which it is neither. It is over 1,000 pages long yet I read it very quickly. It moves along at quite some pace. Though the goal to build the cathedral is the central task, the novel also focuses on the lives of those caught up in the process. Firstly there's Philip the monk, whose intelligence outwits every attempt to thwart him, Tom Builder whose lifelong dream has been to build a cathedral and his children, as well as Aliona and Richard the orphaned children of a displaced earl.
It is set so long ago that I had little knowledge of its history, beginning post the Battle Of Hastings and taking place entirely in the 1100's under Norman rule. I liked the fact that this place in history was totally unknown to me, it has not often been written about, unlike other areas of history like World War 2, or the Tudors both of which have been somewhat overmined.
With its element of human drama there comes a certain level of ridiculousness and soap opera moments; relationships that occur too quickly, relationships that are thwarted in silly ways or in one case a hazardous, lengthy, journey with a newborn baby including two treks over the Pyrenees on horseback that is pulled off quite easily and without incident. Despite this the characters are very easy to like, care about and enjoy.
The other flaw comes from the direction of the two main villains of the piece Waleran Bigod and William Hamleigh. The machinations of these two foes and their various attempts to thwart Phillip and friends become repetitive in style and approach "Damn that pesky monk"
This problem feels very minor though as it doesn't impede the overall entertainment factor of the book which is historical fiction at its best. 8/10
Destination : ebook storage