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The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
An enticingly fat book (nerd alert), you know you're about to read something epic when the book in question has inspired not only a TV series, but also a video game. Written in the 1970's, to add to its illustrious accomplishments this book has been on various best seller lists for long stretches of time.
The writing itself reminded me of traditional male story writing - Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan etc, though there is no sign of sci-fi or fantasy in this book. Part of the fiction genre, its the first installment of the Kingsbridge trilogy that narrates the building of a cathedral superimposed over the trials and tribulations in the lifetimes of several protagonists - Prior Philip; Aliena; Ellen and Jack; Tom Builder and the despicable William Hamleigh.
The central topic of the book is the building of the cathedral at the Kingsbridge Priory and the lives of many characters are indirectly impacted by its construction. I would imagine that Follett must have researched the architectural trends of that time (12th century) in great depth as the most poetic descriptions in the book are about the architecture of various buildings and most centrally, the cathedral itself.
This book deepened the dark rings around my eyes as I could not put it down, its reputation as one of Britains great reads well worth the honour. Its succeeded by World Without End, and most recently, A Column of Fire.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan