Corine Cabrera

Corine Cabrera

Published: 27 Sep 2023


The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is a captivating historical novel that takes readers on a journey through 12th-century England. Set against the backdrop of the construction of a grand cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, this epic tale weaves together the lives of various characters as they navigate political intrigue, love, and the pursuit of power in a time of uncertainty.

In this article, we will delve into the world of The Pillars of the Earth and explore 20 astounding facts about the book that will captivate both fans of the novel and those who have yet to discover its brilliance. From the inspiration behind the story to the historical accuracy of its setting, these facts will reveal the depth and complexity of Ken Follett’s masterpiece.

Table of Contents

Bestselling Novel

The Pillars of the Earth, written by Ken Follett, is an internationally acclaimed bestselling novel that has captivated readers all over the world. It has sold millions of copies and has been translated into multiple languages, solidifying its place as a literary masterpiece.

Historical Fiction

The Pillars of the Earth is a historical fiction novel set in the 12th century, during the tumultuous time of the Anarchy in England. It vividly depicts the struggles, conflicts, and triumphs of the characters against the backdrop of medieval architecture and political unrest.

Epic Storytelling

Follett’s novel takes readers on a sweeping journey spanning several decades, weaving together the lives of different characters whose fates become intricately intertwined. It is a testament to Follett’s skill as a writer to create such a compelling and intricate plot.

Lengthy Tome

The Pillars of the Earth is a hefty novel, with the paperback edition running at around 1,000 pages. Despite its length, readers eagerly immerse themselves in Follett’s richly detailed storytelling and find it hard to put the book down.

Television Adaptation

In 2010, The Pillars of the Earth was adapted into a miniseries, bringing the epic story to life on the small screen. The miniseries gained critical acclaim and further solidified the novel’s popularity among a wider audience.

Complex Characters

Follett’s characters are multi-dimensional and deeply human, each with their own unique motivations, flaws, and aspirations. Readers are drawn into their lives, investing emotionally in their journeys and eagerly following their arcs throughout the novel.

Themes of Power and Corruption

The Pillars of the Earth explores themes of power, corruption, and the struggle for control. Follett delves into the dark underbelly of medieval politics and the insidious influence it has on society, adding depth and complexity to the narrative.

Meticulous Research

Follett is known for his meticulous research, and The Pillars of the Earth is no exception. The novel is filled with authentic historical details, from the architecture of the cathedrals to the political climate of the time, making it a rich and immersive reading experience.

Architecture as a Central Theme

A prominent theme in the novel is the construction of cathedrals. Follett explores the intricacies of medieval architecture, highlighting the dedication, skill, and craftsmanship required to build these majestic structures that stood the test of time.

Emotional Rollercoaster

The Pillars of the Earth takes readers on an emotional rollercoaster, with moments of triumph, heartbreak, love, and betrayal. Follett’s ability to engage readers on such a deep emotional level is one of the reasons why the novel remains so beloved.

International Recognition

The Pillars of the Earth has garnered international recognition, receiving awards such as the German Corine Literature Prize and the Italian Giovanni Boccaccio International Prize.

Sequels and Prequel

Follett continued the epic saga with two sequels, “World Without End” and “A Column of Fire,” as well as a prequel, “The Evening and the Morning.” These books further expand on the world of The Pillars of the Earth, delighting fans with more captivating stories.

Cultural Impact

The Pillars of the Earth has had a significant cultural impact, inspiring readers to delve into the history of medieval Europe and sparking an interest in architecture and the Middle Ages.

Book Club Favorite

Due to its engaging storytelling, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes, The Pillars of the Earth has become a popular choice for book clubs around the world. Its rich material provides ample opportunities for discussion and analysis.

Enduring Popularity

Since its publication in 1989, The Pillars of the Earth has continued to capture the hearts and imaginations of readers. Its enduring popularity is a testament to the lasting impact and universal appeal of Follett’s masterful storytelling.

Translated into Many Languages

The Pillars of the Earth has been translated into numerous languages, allowing readers from different cultures to enjoy this epic tale. Its widespread availability has only contributed to its global success.

Critical Acclaim

The novel has received widespread critical acclaim, with reviewers praising Follett’s richly textured writing, compelling characters, and meticulous research. It is often hailed as one of the greatest historical fiction novels of all time.

Inspiring Generations of Writers

The Pillars of the Earth has served as an inspiration for many aspiring writers, encouraging them to explore historical fiction and delve into the complexities of storytelling on a grand scale.

Unforgettable Saga

Follett’s novel is an unforgettable saga that leaves a lasting impact on readers. Its epic scope and engaging narrative make it a book that is often revisited and cherished by fans.

Continuous Discovery

With each read, readers discover new layers and nuances within The Pillars of the Earth, making it a book that continues to surprise and captivate even after multiple readings.


In conclusion, “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett is a remarkable piece of historical fiction that captivates readers with its vivid storytelling and intricate plot. Through this epic tale set in 12th-century England, Follett transports us into a world of political intrigue, religious turmoil, and the relentless pursuit of power.With its meticulously researched historical backdrop and well-developed characters, “The Pillars of the Earth” weaves a compelling narrative that keeps readers on the edge of their seats. From the grandeur of the cathedral construction to the personal struggles and triumphs of the characters, the novel offers a rich tapestry of emotions and experiences.Follett’s masterful storytelling and attention to detail make “The Pillars of the Earth” an unforgettable read. Whether you are a history buff or simply enjoy immersive and engrossing stories, this book is sure to leave a lasting impact.So, dive into the world of “The Pillars of the Earth” and prepare to be swept away by its grandeur and complexity. It is a journey you won’t soon forget.


Q: Is “The Pillars of the Earth” based on real events?

A: While “The Pillars of the Earth” is a work of fiction, it is heavily grounded in historical events and settings. Ken Follett conducted extensive research on medieval architecture, politics, and social dynamics to create a realistic backdrop for the story.

Q: How long did it take Ken Follett to write “The Pillars of the Earth”?

A: Ken Follett spent more than three years researching and writing “The Pillars of the Earth.” The book was published in 1989 and became an international bestseller, solidifying Follett’s reputation as a master storyteller.

Q: Are there any sequels or related books to “The Pillars of the Earth”?

A: Yes, “The Pillars of the Earth” is the first book in the Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett. The series includes two sequels: “World Without End” and “A Column of Fire”. These books continue the saga of the fictional town of Kingsbridge through different time periods.

Q: Is “The Pillars of the Earth” suitable for young readers?

A: “The Pillars of the Earth” contains mature themes, graphic violence, and explicit content, making it more suitable for adult readers. Parents and guardians are advised to assess the content and themes before recommending it to younger readers.

Q: Is it necessary to read the preceding novels in the Kingsbridge series before reading “The Pillars of the Earth”?

A: No, “The Pillars of the Earth” can be read as a standalone novel. While it is the first book in the Kingsbridge series, it serves as a prequel to the subsequent novels and can be enjoyed independently.