I recently bought this novel and read all 983 pages in a week. This is one of the greatest books I've ever read and I can't even begin to describe how good it is. Many people over the years have told me to read it but I didn't want to until I was ready to take on such a big book (I like shorter novels). As soon as I started I couldn't put it down.
I've always read more "literary" novels, and THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH has shown me that I've been missing out; that I've forgotten how fun it is to read. Spanning roughly fifty years in 12th Century England, the novel is about the construction of a Gothic Cathedral and the political / emotional / social implications of the lives of those involved. There are civil wars, raids, bloody battles, corruption, evil bishops and earls, brave and noble knights, religious brutalities, famine, love, sex, death and murder--all the goodies of life.
I was totally and utterly absorbed in this novel and I feel as though I've lived in the Middle Ages alongside these characters for their entire lives. Sometimes they would look back on their lives and I knew their memories as though they were my own, and I was sad to see these people growing old.
Ken Follett is brilliant. As a writer, this reading experience has opened my eyes to the art of storytelling, and I'm going to read more of Ken Follett to help me learn how to tell a better story.