Tuesday, October 19, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 69

This is an ongoing series looking at books that influenced me as a fantasy author.

The Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

The Pillars of the Earth, [Hardcover] by Ken FollettThe Pillars of the Earth is one of those novels I picked up because the copy on the back of the paperback sold me on the story. Set in the 12th Century, this epic novel revolves around the building of a cathedral in England, which might sound boring to anyone who isn't a history buff (which I am). The truth is, this novel is exciting, though-provoking and just downright interesting.

As I said, the construction of the cathedral is a key element, almost the center point of the tale, but the lives of those around the cathedral or somehow related to the cathedral are what brings this novel to life. The book covers roughly a century of time, with a strong focus upon certain periods within that century. There are historical figures to be found here, as well as at least one quite important historical event in the history of England and Europe, but I won't go into that for fear of giving away too much.

I first discovered this novel in a bookstore in the late 1980s, and as I said, it was the back copy which brought about my purchase. I had never read this novelist before then, but this particular book opened my eyes to how good a writer Ken Follett is. Since then I've read some of his other material, but I've yet to read World Without End, which is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth. I'll get to the sequel, I'm sure.

Fantasy writers, specifically those who are interested in epic tales, could do far worse than reading and studying this novel. There is much to learn here, including how to tell interesting stories about common working folk in a Medieval world.

Up next: Lightning


Charles Gramlich said...

I may have read a Follett many many years ago. Not this one though.

David Barron said...

Just read it, actually. Reminds me of parts of "Sarum" (Edward Rutherford), one of my all-time favorites. So that's a good sign.