Written By: Ken Follett

Narrated By: John Lee

Date: October 2007

Duration: 40 hours 56 minutes


If you liked the Century Trilogy, you’ll love the “extraordinary . . . monumental masterpiece.”—Booklist, that changed the course of Ken Follett’s already phenomenal career. 

“Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner,” extolled Publishers Weekly on the release of The Pillars of the Earth. A departure for the bestselling thriller writer, the historical epic stunned readers and critics alike with its ambitious scope and gripping humanity. Today, it stands as a testament to Follett’s unassailable command of the written word and to his universal appeal. 
The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known . . . of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect—a man divided in his soul . . . of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame . . . and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state, and brother against brother.
A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett’s historical masterpiece.


  • Bekah

    I don't often write reviews, and I even more rarely give 5 stars. But, in this case, it is definitely warranted. I have been thoroughly enjoying listening to this book. I am about to start the third set of CDs; my only complaint is that I wish there was no interruption between finishing one set and having to wait for the next set to arrive in the mail! Now, a warning to the faint of heart, there are some explicit and vulgar details in the book, so if you are easily offended, this may not be the right book for you. For all others, I would highly recommend you embark on this journey with the characters!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful.

  • Heather W.

    What an incredible story! Don't be intimidated by the number of pages/length of audiobook. You'll wish it had more once you near the end. The sequel is equally fantastic.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful.

  • Naomi K.

    I absolutely loved loved this book. I was a little intimidated by the number of pages but once I started reading it, I could not put it down. Our book club is meeting tonight and will interesting to hear what others thought.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I have truly enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the following book, World without End.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Anonymous

    I am writing this review only because I wish someone had written a similar caution before I rented it. There are quite a few extremely explicit sexual and violent rape details in this book that causes me to shutter even as I write this. If you are at all sensitive to this kind of material, I would suggest that you NOT read this book. It is a very interesting and engrossing story line, but not worth some of the horrific visual details that come along with it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Mads L.

    This reads as a perverts wet dream of forcing himself on women

  • paisleynoel

    I was so hesitant to start this series because, I’m a 20 year old girl, what business do I have reading this? BOY WAS I WRONG! I loved this series and learned so much that has actually made me take some history courses at uni! Love love love

  • Sbruner27

    Awesome book. I was intrigued at how a book can be so long and still keep you captivated but this one does just that. Great detail in the points that matter. Yes, there are some explicit parts but it was a dark time for humanity. It doesn’t go so far to be as completely smutty but it does make you hate the bad guys even more. I am already getting the 2nd book in the series and starting that soon.

  • Patrick S.

    The author is pretty damn good

  • Anonymous

    So interesting and so well narrated.

  • Anonymous

    I can never get enough of Ken Follet‘s books. And Jon Lee as the narrator is incredible. This is my fourth Ken Follet book, and I’ve loved every single one of them. Not for the faint of heart, Follett’s stories amaze, haunt, enthrall, sadden, educate, inspire and revive the reader. Absolutely brilliant work!

  • Anonymous

    Love this book what a beautiful story, Although it was very long it was hard to put down

  • Sandra F.

    Best read of my life...couldn't put it down save a glass of water and bathroom visits.

  • Desire W.

    slow start but definitely one of the best books i've ever read

  • Katherine L.

    Excellent story!

  • Stephanie W.

    One of the top 5 books ever! Loved it!

  • Perry C

    An excellent historical and captivating story. The narrator was excellent in pitch and tone as he brought all the characters to life. Can’t wait to start the next book in the series.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent book! I'm sure it tells the story of how it really was in those days. The author did an amazing job of telling a story about a belief system that he himself isn't apart of. The narrator did an great job. It's fitting to have a male voice telling this story.

  • Carol M

    Listened to the boom prior to joining Audiobooks.com so not sure if the narrator is the same. The story is interesting mix of history and fiction, adding some details about architecture and religion. Very good.

  • Amber H

    I thought his book was delightful. Filled with all the villainous and heroic characters that a great book needs. I was inthralled in parts and had a hard time putting it down. The narration was impressive. John Lee did a fine job.

  • Vickie M

    The best book ever!! The only book I have ever read twice. You won't be able to put it down.

  • ANNA S

    Took me about a quarter of the book to really get into it, mostly due to the narration. It seemed at first like listening to a news anchor speaking; his inflections seemed too rigid for the story, and for me, this actually was very distracting from the actual substance. But I guess I got used to it, since after that first quarter of the book the well-developed characters took over and the oddities in narration dissolved...I was fully absorbed til the end. Great story, loved it.

  • Timothy C

    The best book I have ever listened to and the narrator is my favorite male narrator - the best.

  • Courtney Rearick

    This book was excellent. It was longer than an average book but I still didn't want it to end. The characters were well-developed and not generic. The plot was amazing and kept me entertained for the full 40 hours. Warning: There were some graphic scenes including two rape scenes and a few very detailed love making scenes. So this book is not great for listening to within earshot of others necessarily. The narrator was lively but did not focus the attention on himself; the book and his narration were seamless. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

  • Dahlia Black

    Excellent! Very well done. The narrator conveyed the emotion and suspense described in the book.

  • Ayela Mujeeb

    I loved this book. Some details were too graphic for my liking but the characters are really brought to life. I found myself listening constantly. The narrator is fantastic.

  • Paula Bertuccini

    A real journey......and it has an unusual characteristic of tying up all the loose ends and leaving no questions unanswered.. Very satisfying read

  • Linda Edmond

    Great book! I loved the characters and hated for it to end!

  • Kaitlin Walsh

    A great book told by a great narrator. It took me 2 months to listen to it in its entirety, and now I'm sad it's over. Can't wait to check out World Without End.

  • Robin Kuhn

    I love when am author takes his time and tells a great story.

  • Anonymous

    One of those stories you hate to see end! Can't wait for the rest of the story!!

  • Anonymous

    Starts out a little so and has some violent scenes. But overall draws you in and really makes you think. Things were so different back then and it's incredibly fascinating because these things could've been true.

  • DeAnna

    This book will be one of those that I never forget. I loved everything about it. I listen on my way to and from work everyday and like a little kid, I could hardly wait for the next installment and at the same time didn't want the story to end.

  • Albert

    Pillars of the Earth is a classic historical-fiction novel of late 20th Century. I have read it and I have listened to it. In both cases, it was a distinct pleasure. The narrated version is superb. The narrater has the knack of projecting the story into your head without calling attention to himself. Of the many audio books I've enjoyed, I rate this one tops and truly the masterpiece of the Simply Audiobooks collection.

  • Anonymous

    This book started a bit slow & was long but well worth it!!! Was sad to "say good bye" to the characters when it completed... Would recomend for sure!

  • Katrina Cozzi

    Not an entirely horrible story - predictable & heavy-handed with foreshadow, but Follett's heart was in the right place. He tried too hard to write fiction around history & in doing so loses the thread of his narrative. And if you've ever asked yourself how many times the word "realized" could possibly be used in a book, Follett answers with every 3rd sentence.

  • Anonymous

    Can't say enough about this book. Please listen and you will not be disappointed!

  • Lorin

    I just don't get it. I tried, but I just don't get what the hype is all about. Silly predictable one dimensional characters doing predictable things. Bad bad bishops, earls, and kings doing bad, bad things. And good, good humble monks, and peasants doing good good things. And btw, all the good women are beautiful and all the bad women are ugly. You know the dilapidated church will burn because Follett, out of nowhere, tells us Jack has a flint. You know Tom will be with Ellen the minute Agnes looks at Ellen jealously. You know everything because Follett is heavy handed with his hints. Time lines are screwed up, medieval speech is wrong, it is all just wrong. There is no depth to these characters. Nobody is all bad or all good. It is just one big soap opera. But most of all I hated the self congratulatory prelude Follett inflicts on us, telling us it is the perceived as the greatest book ever written. I loathed this book. Stick with James Michener.

  • mconmee

    The details were amazing and the storyline riveting. I was somewhat skeptical when a friend suggested I read this book, however I was reluctant to get out of the car everytime I arrived home from work. You will be happy you rented/downloaded this title.

  • trheyer

    The best he has ever written and or may write. Everything was put in order. Country/region/characters/events and history. You just didnt read this, you were IN IT. I felt terror, happiness and sadness like I was part of the town. I learned so much about those times and the way they lived (and died). I am a Catholic and probably learned more about the Church here than in any k-12 parochial education I have had. The best. Period.

  • Mandi Scott Chestler

    The Pillars of the Earth towers over most novels in the historical fiction category. Only a master story teller like Ken Follett can accomplish keeping readers interested hour after hour in a book essentially about the building and structure of medieval gothic cathedrals. His characters are engaging, the plot fast-paced, and research exacting. By making the jump from penning suspense thrillers, to crafting page-turning historical epics, Follet has proved he is a pillar among modern best-seller writers.

  • Andy

    I can't get over just how good this book was. The characters feel completely real, and the story is heart-wrenching, uplifting, and unflinching. The narration is wonderful, I've gone back and added several books I never even would've thought to look at, just because they're read by the same person. I'd recommend this book to anyone. Brilliant.

  • Texas Listener

    At times it gets boring and right when you want to move on to something else, it picks back up. Overall not bad.

  • Seaweed

    I first read this book over 20 years ago and remembered liking it a lot. I rarely read anything twice (there's so much NEW to read!) but I took a chance on the audio version and I am so glad I did. I have a two-hour round trip commute daily, and the last month in the car passed in a flash thanks to this book. Fascinating story, fascinating history. Not quite a 5-star, but really good.

  • Anonymous

    Although the story does en excellent job in showing why they were called the dark ages, the level of explicit detail around the acts of sadistic violence and erotica was much more then necessary or comfortable, to the point of my wife abandoning the read mid-book and me contimplating the same for most of the book.

  • Anonymous

    i absolutely loved this book. i am not finished yet but planned to listen to it again ASAP

  • Anonymous

    What a gift. I learned so much about life and people. Remember that stuff the teach in school about feudalism as balance of church, king, and manor system-- well it came to life. I get it now. The story was dynamic, as the powerful worked against and sometimes with each other. The characters were rich intricate people whose lives I cared about deeply. In every way, this book was engaging and meaningful (and at times real fun).

  • Wendy

    I LOVED this book. It is not the kind of book I normally choose but a friend recommended it and it was riveting! Full of beautiful detail, rich characters and fascinating action I never wanted to leave the car. You may be discouraged by its length at first, but once you start listening to it you will wish it were longer. I can't say enough about it and am excited to start the sequel, which is even longer!

  • Steve

    I was reluctant at first to get this audio because of its length but I kept hearing word-of-mouth how this was a great book. I had to admit I was amazed that the story never lagged and I wanted more. This book is simply incredible. What an epic story of incredible characters and their struggles of good versus evil. Simply one of the best book I have read.

  • Anonymous

    The scope of this book was amazing. Author was able to weave historical events with excellent character development. A bit hard to get into, but stick it out. You'll be rewarded. Some parts are hard to listen to because it was graphic.

  • Anonymous

    This is a long book,. but I LOVED it. It is a saga, but in the end it stays with you and the story is great.

  • ToniL

    Long long story but kept me engaged from the first cd to the last. I loved every bit of this tale.

  • Don L W


  • Melanie

    I do not generally review BUT this was AMAZING! NEVER would I have thought that I would want to listen to 30 hours! I am SO HAPPY to see that there is a sequel!

  • Sherry

    Pillars of the Earth is one of the best books I have ever read. Ken Follett is a master story teller that weaves several different plots into one amazing story. I love this book and would highly recommend to anyone.

  • christine

    very long, but worth every last minute. kinda brutal, but that's what makes it so good!

  • Bill of Chattanooga

    this is a must listen book! It confirms my choice to belong to Simply Audio Books a very wise choice. The plot and reader are an awesome team!! the only thing wrong with this audio book is I will so miss not listening to it when I am through!

  • Anonymous

    If you enjoy historical fiction this is a must. A modern classic.

  • Ray N Atlanta

    One of the best books I have ever read. Well worth your time to listen to.

  • Chap

    Very good. You feel transported back to the 10th Century.

  • Anonymous

    I found this book painfully addicting. Be prepared... you will find yourself sitting in your car just wanting to get to a good stopping point. Be warned that the there are some graphic scenes... but they are made so much more powerful because of the attachment you end up having toward these characters. I highly suggest spending the time with this book. The reader is fantastic and the story is a memorable one.

  • Mrs. PAW

    This is such a great book - I started reading it, then listening...Now I'm definitely a fan of Ken Follett. I would recommend this to any and all who ask.

  • Anonymous

    Loved this book so much I bought the sequel read by the same performer (36 cd's!) The performer is awesome, cannot rave loud enough!!

  • Anonymous

    This has become my new favorite book. A truly great story with incredible characters. This is truly a classic. After listening to it, I went out and bought the book just so I could reread it at anytime. Also bought the sequel and can't wait to start it.

  • St. Simons Sheila

    AMAZING STORY!!! I couldn't wait for the next cds to arrive. I checked it out of my library so my "Pillars" fix could be satisfied immediately.

  • Exeter

    I generally do not think books should be abridged. In this case a little editing or abridgment would have been appropriate. I must admit that on more then one occasion I said enough and advanced to the next track. I do not think I missed that much. Having said that I am glad I slogged through all 32 CD's. The characters are appealing and the story and subplots well told. The reader is very good. The ending is satisfying. If you have a long commute and want some company for a month or so then this book is worth a listen.

  • Paula

    A wonderful story that I didn't want to end, full of richly drawn characters, fast paced storyline, and excellent narration. If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would....highly recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.

Pillars of the Earth

by Ken Follett

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Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
This title is due for release on October 9, 2007.

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