“The Pillars Of the Earth” by Ken Follet
Title: The pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follet
Editor: MacMillian Publisher Ltd.
Price: 10.80 €
Wandering through London it is possible to bump into the most beautiful cathedrals in all over Europe: from the Saint Paul’s Cathedral, passing by the Southward Cathedral, to the renowned Westminster Cathedral.
In these buildings we can find people praying, people thinking about their life problems or more simply people visiting them.
But what’s the historical background of these buildings? Why did men build them?
This novel by Ken Follet tries to give us another way to observe these buildings.
Using an effective writing style, the author draws us towards a story of love, hatred, passion, ideals, treasons, trick, power and political struggle.
Set in the 12th century, during the period of King Stephen and the Anarchy, the story tells of Tom Builder, a penniless master builder, who was dismissed from his previous commission by Hamleight family, who has a hidden dream: building a cathedral.
After being fired Tom and his family start wandering to find a new employment but his wife Agnes dies in the forest giving birth to their last son, leaving him alone with his son, Alfred, and his daughter, Martha.
Here he meets Ellen, his future wife and previously a nun who left the monastery after falling pregnant, who lives in the wood with her son Jack, a clever and shy boy.
Subsequently they settle in Kingsbridge, where Prior Philip, serious and devout monk, runs the monastery and struggles against the thirsty of power of the Bishop Waleran Bigod.
In this town, facing troubles, betrayals and political competition, Tom begins the building of his cathedral.
Follet uses his characters to emphasize human behaviour.
On the one hand we can talk about the positive feelings: Tom Builder represents passion and devotion; Jack, Ellen’s son, represents stubbornness, bravery and determination to succeed; Aliena, Earl Bartholomew’s daughter who rejected Hamleight’s son, represents independence and willingness to solve the predicaments of life and Prior Philip represents strong faith in ideals and morals.
On the other hand we can identify the negative feelings: William Hamleight represents arrogance and obsession, he fervently desires Aliena after she refused his offer of marriage, and violence, which is used to achieve his whims; Waleran Bigod, continuously thirsty of power, represents the political ability to cheat and obtain more power from any situation.
A well-written book, a masterpiece, which observes the Middle Age from a different point of view allowing us to understand what lies behind buildings and which stunning power plots they can hide.