Reynolds Essay

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Book Review of The Pillars of the Earth. Ken Follett. New York: Signet, 1990. 983pp.. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is unlike the majority of his suspense and thriller books. This work of fiction is set in the 12th century in England, and intertwines historical fact throughout. The story revolves around the trials and tribulations of building a grand cathedral in the nonexistent village of Kingsbridge over a period of approximately 50 yrs. It involves love, greed, passion, violence, and faith. The main characters all have dreams and goals. The novel describes in amazing detail to what lengths each person will go to achieve their goals. Throughout this period England was in a state of chaos. Prior to the prologue the author tells the reader that King Henry I died without an heir to the throne, after his son died when the White Ship sank in 1120. The heirless king’s death in 1135 caused a power grab for the monarchy. King Stephen quickly seizes power, and King Henry’s daughter Maud fights to take back the crown. This struggle is felt throughout. Alliances were made, and broken on a whim, as a result the people suffered by not having strong leadership accepted by all. The prologue sets the reader up for the reality of the time period. It revolves around the hanging of a thief. Violence is a way of life and widely accepted by all. In great detail the reader learns of the violent times, and how the townspeople including little boys see the execution as a grand old time. On this particular day the people are not enjoying the festivities as usual. The thief was charged with stealing a jeweled chalice. The working man did not have the time or need for such things as a jeweled chalice. It would hold no value because it could not be eaten, planted, or even sold. The town cannot fathom why anyone would steal such a thing, and since

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