The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

800 pages about monks building a cathedral were some of the most entertaining historical fiction I’ve read.

1) “The edge of the town was downhill from the center, so the refuse from the wealthier neighborhood was washed down the streets to lodge beneath the walls.”

This reminded me of the Parasite scene.

2) “‘Hunger is the best seasoning.’” – Agnes

Never go to the store on an empty stomach.

3) “‘Stephen needed only one more thing to make his victory secure: the support of the Church. For until he could be crowned at Westminster by the archbishop he would not really be king.'” – Francis

One of my favorite themes in the book was the power struggle between the crown and the church.

4) “‘A man may just as easily frustrate the will of God through excessive humility.'” – Cuthbert

Extreme humility is even more annoying than extreme overconfidence.

5) “‘Let them watch Remigius blunder and bungle from day to day while your image remains shining and perfect in their minds.'” – Milius

This is the Biden strategy. If you don’t do anything, you can’t do anything wrong.

6) “A bridge was a means of access for attackers, and the more readily it fell down, the safer the castle was.”

I inadvertently continued my castle series.

7) “‘I’ve bought it from her. And I’ve sold it to you.'” – Philip

As I read this most English of stories, I couldn’t resist the urge to tie its themes to PPE (Philosophy, Politics, Economics).

8) “Drawing always seemed a miracle to people who could not do it.”

I recently rediscovered my absolute lack of drawing skills during a “sketching” session.

9) “‘Tradition says a man will spend a third of a day walking to the market, a third of a day at the market, and a third of a day walking home.'” – Waleran

900 years later, a man spends his full day scrolling through Amazon.

10) “‘Pray for miracles, but plant cabbages.'” – Peter

Is this the medieval version of shoot for the stars and land on the moon?

This book felt like Game of Thrones without the dragons. The characters are very well written and mostly memorable. More impressively, the author made masonry and church architecture interesting. The next time I visit a cathedral, I might take a few more minutes to admire how it was built. I’m not surprised that this was made into a TV series, as it’s drama at its best. The action is fast-paced, and the plot twists are just surprising enough to keep intrigue high, until the very end when the good guys had the perfect ending.

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