I put this book of for so long that I'm angry I deprived myself of a good read for so many months. This is a book you can sit down, wrap yourself up in and exclude the rest of the world for a bit.
Follett is not a historical author, he usually writes thillers and this reflects in his style of writing. The sentences are short and almost clumsy, which after a while can be grating on your nerves. He has this habit of explaining everything to you as if you couldn't understand a pretty clear concept. Maybe this is the mistake of an author, unfamiliar with writing for this kind of audience, underestimating their ability to actually read and process information at the same time. It is rather annoying but I ended up scanning past those parts.
That sounds rather damning, doesn't it? Normally that would have irritated me so much I'd have tossed the book aside. But to me, there is a tipping point in how I enjoy a book. A good story vs. great writing. Well, great writing this is not, but it is a fantastic story with an excellent cast of characters all whom you find yourself either loving (and wanting to bash them around the head at some point too) and hating so much you want to do nothing more then see them burn in a vat of acid.
That tipped the scales for me. The writing is at least unpretentious, it is plain and without grace. But Follett doesn't try to be something he is not. He is a great story teller and he manages to captivate the feeling and atmosphere of the medieval era in your imagination without the use of flowery adjectives or the over use of description.
The Pillars of the Earth, once you are sucked in you cannot remove yourself very well, it's a bit of a train journey. There are the many criticisms (the constant rocking of the pram where good things happen followed by bad, followed by good and so on...) but in the end I really enjoyed reading this book, every page of it and I can't wait to continue with [b:World Without End|4835392|World Without End|Ken Follett|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DR5-Gt03L._SL75_.jpg|2845518] even though it is set about 200 years after Pillars.
I'm glad to have finished this book though. It wasn't one which had me turning the last page over and being disappointed there was no more on the other side. You feel satisfied when you finally finish it and take your bookmark out, closing the covers for the last time... unless you want to re-read it of course. I think it does have re-readability but I don't think I will any time in the future. Maybe the far future I will want to re-visit this.