The Pillars of the Earth: Book Review

Reviews Mar 3, 2019

Pillars is arguably the best fiction I have ever read and a book that I keep recommending to my fellow bookworms. Set in a historic background, it is almost an epic of romance, religion, politics and architecture narrated in the captivating style of a thriller.

The story is set in a medieval, politically unstable period in England historically known as ‘The Anarchy’. With the untimely death of the crown-prince in a ship accident, civil war breaks between the factions of two royal relatives. Without a king in the throne, administration and justice have been seized by barons. Among this political turmoil, a magnificent cathedral is being built, an architectural marvel, one like which England has never seen before. A new style architecture (Gothic) emerges with stunning beauty and engineering difficulties. As the cathedral rises, the tiny village around it slowly evolves to a town, resisting injustice and cruelty of neighbouring barons. In such an epic background, a long story of family drama of three generations unfolds.

On another dimension, Pillars is the story of two friends: a theist and an atheist. Philip, an ambitious yet humble Christian monk who gets appointed as the new prior (father) of Kingsbridge priory (town church). With old church burnt to ashes in an apparent accident, he is determined to build a new cathedral and reform the chaotic, corrupted church. Jack, a prodigy architect, inspired by the gothic architecture, starts designing the cathedral. The novel is a feast to the right reader: the tight webs of power games, the cathedral architecture: a stunning mix of delicate art, challenging engineering, wars, raids, politics among the church and the state, together make it one of the best historic fiction one could read.

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