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  • The Pillars of the Earth

  • The Kingsbridge Novels (abridged), Book 1
  • By: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: Richard E. Grant
  • Length: 10 hrs and 3 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (165 ratings)

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The Pillars of the Earth cover art

The Pillars of the Earth

By: Ken Follett
Narrated by: Richard E. Grant
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Summary

Abridged edition, narrated by Richard E Grant (Withnail and I)

An epic, spellbinding tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, The Pillars of the Earth is Ken Follett's historical masterpiece.

A Mason with a Dream

It is 1135 and civil war, famine and religious strife abound. With his family on the verge of starvation, mason Tom Builder dreams of the day that he can use his talents to create and build a cathedral like no other.

A Monk with a Burning Mission

Philip is the church prior of Kingsbridge. A resourceful man, he knows that if his town is to survive at all, it must find a way to truly thrive. He decides, then, to build Kingsbridge the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

A World of High Ideals and Savage Cruelty

As the prior recruits his mason, so begins a journey of ambition, anarchy and the struggle for absolute power. Facing enemies that would thwart them, they will stop at nothing to fulfil their grand plans of Kingsbridge. Soon build tensions between good and evil, turning church against state, and brother against brother...

The Pillars of the Earth is the first in The Kingsbridge Novels series, followed by World Without End and A Column of Fire.

© Ken Follett; (P) Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Critic reviews

"Richard E. Grant's virtuoso vocal characterisation is a shortcut to establishing the colourful variety of the enormous cast. If you become addicted, you can follow it up with the just-released sequel, the even longer World Without End, also read by Grant." Christina Hardyment (The Times Books)

What listeners say about The Pillars of the Earth

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely absorbing

I had always meant to read this book, but never quite got around to it. The size of the volume might have had something to do with it. I even hesitated to purchase the audiobook when I saw that it required four separate downloads. However, I am really happy it did. I couldn't put it down. What a great story. It was Ken Follet's passion and it shows. Richard Grant does a fabulous job of narration. Not only is his voice a pleasure to listen to - he handles the various characters beautifully. Buy this book. You won't regret it.

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17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Its so short that the storyline has been killed off. I should have never bought this & the sequel. Stick with the good old book and read the full story.

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12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

not as the author intended

firstly let me say that I love this book! in fact, I would say its up in my top 5 books that i have ever read. also let me say that I don't doubt that Grant's naration is superb.

it is hard however to think of this long masterpiece cut to shreds for a 9 hour audio book. Its particularly hard to accept given that there is an unabridged version available over on audible.com that, as another reviewer points out, we can't have. I'd love to know why, particularly as some of his other books are available in unabridged format. I can only hope that audible will see fit to sort out the rights issue and allow British readers the chance to have the unabridged version of this modern classic... wonder if they'll let this be published?

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8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Too many cuts

I always prefer unabridged books and this abridged version confirmed that view. I had read this book many years ago and wanted to refresh my memory before reading the sequel ?World Without End?. I loved the book when I first read it, the images it conjured up and the emotion it stirred in me. I was so disappointed in this rather butchered substitute. A colourful epic novel has been turned into a short sharp narrative that almost seems to want to get the story over too quickly. There?s no time for real character development or to understand feelings and relationships. I was looking forward to listening to ?World Without End? ? but not unless there is an unabridged version.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A true masterpiece

This book is an amazing piece of historical fiction. It's set against the background of the civil war between the followers of King Stephen and Empress Maud (with the murder of Thomas Beckett thrown in), and follows the situations surrounding the building of Kingsbridge Cathedral.

It's a bit of an unusual book in that there's no particular hero - the book follows various people over the time from before the building of the cathedral, to after it was completed many years later.

I was a bit worried about the narration, as I'm not a fan of Richard Grant's, but he did a fantastic job. I didn't want to stop listening to this story. I'm looking forward to getting 'World Without End' (the sequel) and hope it's as good as Pillars.

If you like historical fiction, you MUST get this book!

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3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great read

Was very absorbed with this story. Not the average storyline and a great subject matter, and I can highly recommend anyone wanting to understand more about this unusual topic.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A really enjoyable listen

I’ve never really listened to audiobooks or been much of a fan of them but I wanted to try to listen to books due to how little time I have in a day to read physical copies, especially because of work and other commitments. I have to say that I was really impressed by the narrator and how he read this epic.
Any critiques I have are more for the story itself, I found myself unsatisfied with the ending but on the whole I have a positive opinion of the book and the characters, which were portrayed wonderfully. I would definitely listen to the sequel!

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant

So interesting. History and fiction make a great read. Narration was well done. Thanks.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent!

This story is so captivating and well written, only excelled by Richard E. Grant's fantastic work narrating. I have thoroughly enjoyed this purchase and looking forward to the next book. The weekend is set for sure!

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Historically interesting but lacklustre narration

I have greatly enjoyed other works by this author, but for some reason this book failed to captivate. Partly I think because the narration was rather flat and partly because I found the jumps in time a bit jerky. Worth the listen, just not one of his best.

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