Convince me to carry on with Ken Follett's Pillars Of The Earth.

(63 Posts)
Showy Sun 19-Jan-14 22:39:20

So many people rave about it and I started it with gleeful anticipation. It is so badly written. Does the story distract from the clunky prose at any point? I'm about 100 pages in. 800 or so to go.

SinisterSal Sun 19-Jan-14 22:40:22

I won't - clunky, sluggish, iffy gender politics... Pity, it could have been great.

Stick to his earlier books which are proper, don't take themselves to seriously thrillers and way more fun.

gracegrape Sun 19-Jan-14 22:47:41

Hmmm, I read this recently and it wasn't as good as I had anticipated. Certainly not very well written and from a very male point of view, I felt. I did get to the end though as I thought the subject matter was interesting.

I know lots of men who really enjoyed it!

I thought that the writing was poor but that the story was, on the whole, interesting enough to keep me going. The follow up was worse, imho.

Showy Mon 20-Jan-14 20:47:41

I wasn't expecting such lukewarm sentiments. Everybody I ask in RL raves about it but it is so poorly written, I can't find myself interested in the characters.

I'm giving it another 50 pages this evening and if it doesn't get ridiculously interesting and quickly, I might abandon a book for the first time ever.

AGoodPirate Mon 20-Jan-14 20:49:50

Oh no I had people rave about it too so bought it for myself at christmas! Where were all you naysayers then? sad

Oubliette0292 Mon 20-Jan-14 20:50:29

I didn't manage to finish it - I took it with me on a business trip and ended up reading work stuff instead!

Methe Mon 20-Jan-14 20:56:21

I really enjoyed it smile

Interesting to see that it's classed as a mans book. I've always liked more masculine stories - I used to read a lot of Wilbur Smith for example. I couldn't real one of the chic lit type books for more than a page without my eyes glazing over.

I guess it depends what type of book you like.

I'm a 'man's book' sort of person overall too, I think. Chick lit makes me want to drown the writer, and then myself.

It's a very long time since I read it, but I enjoyed all the architectural stuff. It's just too long.

If you want long and gripping try Shogun

Chit lit drives me nuts too

Showy Mon 20-Jan-14 21:04:56

I've never read 'chick lit' in my life either grin. I have three degrees, all in literature and linguistics. I read vociferously and never before have I given up but my goodness, it's turgid isn't it?

Showy Mon 20-Jan-14 21:07:39

I don't mind masculine narratives at all btw. Follett is just a poor writer.

TheNightIsDark Mon 20-Jan-14 21:09:58

The two released in the century trilogy are really good.

I'm on my third attempt at pillars and still haven't got even 1/4 into it without wanting to gouge my eyes out with boredom hmm

I read the first of the 'Century' trilogy and found it all rather wearing. He and George R Martin both seem to think that a writer's worth is measured by the pound, and both would be far more effective with some v serious editing.

HooNose Mon 20-Jan-14 21:12:29

I liked it. Another one who enjoys reading male dominated stories though. Women don't interest me at all, I'm ashamed to say.

I do agree though that the sequel is not worth bothering with even if you end up enjoying Pillars. It felt like he was churning up the same story again only with less interesting characters.

kalidasa Mon 20-Jan-14 21:13:29

I too gave up, I can't remember how far in, it was the Kindle edition. I thought it was meant to be trash actually, but apparently not? Oddly sub-Hardy I thought, so I gave up and read some actual Hardy instead.

AGoodPirate Mon 20-Jan-14 22:57:20

How can anyone say they aren't interested in reading about women!? What a bizarre stance to take!

I liked it.
I liked the stuff about architecture and where different cathedral building techniques came from - I don't have RL application for that stuff, but I did like it.

But I agree the writing is not great - I got sucked in enough to get over that aspect of it.
I did not like or tolerate any other Ken Follett books btw.

Shogun is good.
Or try David Mitchell? The 1000 Autumns of <some Dutch name> (sorry, cannot remember) or Ghostwritten or, or course, Cloudatlas?

DramaAlpaca Mon 20-Jan-14 23:04:13

Nope sorry, I won't even try to convince you to carry on reading it. It was so dull it was like reading the phone book. Ditch it. Life's too short to struggle through a book you don't enjoy.

Showy Mon 20-Jan-14 23:14:34

I have read most David Mitchell smile.

Not wanting to read about women IS bizarre. Like we're a homogeneous, squirming mass.

I'm SO disappointed. Have read another 50 pages and clunk, clunk, clunk. Even my friend with impeccable taste said she's read it three times. I can only presume she was that drunk on no less than three occasions.

Theonlyoneiknow Mon 20-Jan-14 23:15:49

I REAllY liked it

PixelAteMyFace Mon 20-Jan-14 23:19:36

I enjoyed it, the subject matter made a change from the.usual kind of stuff I read, I found it interesting - but then I've always been fascinated by how cathedrals were built wink

Showy Mon 20-Jan-14 23:21:29

The subject matter is fine. I was excited by the synopsis. It's the dreadful writing I can't tolerate. grin

BillyBanter Mon 20-Jan-14 23:24:08

I enjoyed it. It was a good story. But if you're not enjoying it don't read it. There are too many good books out there to waste time on ones you don't like.

FriedSprout Mon 20-Jan-14 23:31:01

This is one of the few books I have I given up on too.
Made it to chapter 3 when it made me so cross that I wrote my one and only book review and put the book out for charity.

I read it about 20 years ago and really enjoyed it, not sure if I would now though.

Elsiequadrille Mon 20-Jan-14 23:48:23

My husband bought both books for me. I haven't finished the first, and not sure I will. Though I'm afraid the TV series was partially responsible for putting me off.

glammanana Tue 21-Jan-14 07:43:27

I read it first time around years ago and will always remember going to work on the train when everyone was reading it,they where so engrossed you daren't say good morning in case you put the readers off their place in the book,I still have that copy and am now going to read it again I really enjoyed it.

HooNose Tue 21-Jan-14 08:12:14

How can anyone say they aren't interested in reading about women!? What a bizarre stance to take!

It's not a stance! It is just how it is. Women bore me. Men excite me. <shrugs>

Name me a book in which a female character will not bore me and I am prepared to give it a go.

Never really thought about it, but when I was youngerI read almost entirely male oriented books (I liked Frederick Forsyth, Alastair Maclean, Arthur Haley, Ken Follett, John Grisham etc). Somewhere along the line I've changed and read much more female oriented books, I don't follow particular authors so much any more, but most books I read have female main characters now.

TheNightIsDark Tue 21-Jan-14 09:21:28

Game of Thrones. There's no way Arya or Cersei could bore you.

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Tue 21-Jan-14 09:34:11

Unusual for me to see a tv adaptation before reading the book but I have to say the misogyny put me off buying a copy. Rape, rape and more rape. It all felt pretty gratuitous so I shan't bother with the book itself.

highlandcoo Tue 21-Jan-14 09:47:20

Hoonose - a challenge for you! Try The Observations by Jane Harris and see if Bessy bores you or not. I really liked her as a character.

HooNose Tue 21-Jan-14 09:58:02

Game of Thrones. There's no way Arya or Cersei could bore you

Are they women behaving as men by any chance? I keep meaning to give Game of Thrones a go, but I have been told all the characters you become attached to die which is a bit of a stumbling block for me. Plus, glimpses of the tv series look unremittingly grim.

Try The Observations by Jane Harris and see if Bessy bores you or not.

Thanks, I'll look out for that.

I am like a previous poster. As a teen, I read books by Alastair Maclean, Raymond Chandler, Alexandre Dumas, that sort of thing, and now I like reading Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O'Brien (well, not him particularly but I like naval stories), stories about men in brutal times. Pillars of the Earth seemed quite a fluffy read to me.

TheNightIsDark Tue 21-Jan-14 10:05:13

Slightly like men in the ruthless vengeance quest but Cersei uses her womanly ways to be a power mad nutcase succeed.

Some good characters die but IMO the best ones are still alive.

Do I love him/does he love me?

ODFOD, let's have a good thriller with a male lead and get on with the bloody story!

Interesting, exciting and entirely non-boring female characters -

Anne Elliot
Elizabeth Bennet
Hester in Philip Reeves' Mortal Engines series
Holly Golightly
Susannah in King's Dark Tower series
The woman whose name I have forgotten in the Tales of the Otori series
For starters...

Game of Thrones is rather gripping, but the writing is hardly first class - as said upthread, could've done with rather vigorous editing grin.
And I made my way through ALL the books last summer, to only realise in the end that it was not flipping finished. And the next instalment out in 2015. Maybe... shockangryhmm.
Brienne was a great female character though - I hope she survives the remaining books grin.

tobiasfunke Tue 21-Jan-14 17:50:54

I have got to that stage where if a book is too much trouble to read by about 50 pages I give up. Life is too short and there are too many good books out there. I couldn't be doing with Wolf Hall at all- Mantell's third person present tense just jarred. Some book's are just not good fit.

tobiasfunke Tue 21-Jan-14 17:51:24

That should be books without the apostrophe obvs before some pedant jumps on it.

Oh no, I've just bought Wolf Hall for my kindle grin

TheNightIsDark Tue 21-Jan-14 18:16:55

I can't get into Wolf Hall. Which is annoying as I love that period.

Yy to the annoyance of GoT not being finished. I'm on the second rereading cycle!

amyshellfish Tue 21-Jan-14 18:22:38

I wouldn't bother with game of thrones. The female characters are poorly written and cliched.

Op have you read the assassin series by robin hobb?

The present tense stuff drives me bonkers. I finished, 'Wolf Hall' but the writing style irritated me all the way through. I am now reading Morrissey's autobiography...it is also in the present tense...it is also doing my head in. I might have to throw it out of the window.

Doshusallie Tue 21-Jan-14 18:28:34

Is it Part of the century trilogy? I just finished fall of giants, really enjoyed it.

TheNightIsDark Tue 21-Jan-14 18:35:20

No the other century is winter of the world (I think blush). Next one due out in September.

myitchybeaver Tue 21-Jan-14 18:42:54

OP I agree with you. I also agree that it is clunky and badly written. I think it's comparable with 'dick-lit' in that it's as poor as chick-lit but somehow more worthy because a bloke wrote it.

Life's too short to read anything you don't enjoy by 50 pages in and there are so many fabulous books to choose from!

I don't think it is as bad as chick-lit tbh (although liking the phrase dick-lit!). It has been properly researched and the stuff about architecture adds interest and depth in a way that would not be done in chick-lit (in which 'interest' means sex and 'depth' means descriptions of which brands are being worn by various bloody irritating women).

Showy Wed 22-Jan-14 10:27:33

grin @ interest = sex

DH did wander into the bathroom the other night and ask 'how's the new book?' I explained that a recently (as in hours ago) bereaved man had just left his baby for dead on his wife's freshly filled grave and was now having malnourished fever sex with a random woman who lives in the forest.

amy, I read Hobb over Christmas after dh recommended the Assassins series.

I've officially given up. I'm reading The Snow Child instead.

Showy Wed 22-Jan-14 10:30:12

Game Of Thrones is quite good but the tv show is atrocious. I still prefer Wheel Of Time but you can file that under the 'needs editing' header too.

wiltingfast Wed 22-Jan-14 13:23:21

Ah, I have this and am also struggling to get into it. Like all sorts of books I do including well written chick lit but I just can't get interested in the characters.

My friend raves about it though so I much try harder. Am currently pretty engrossed in the Game of Thrones series though so it will have to wait another while <guilt>

Actually I lied, I read no crime. A thriller yes, (think Frederick Forsyth and Thomas Clancy), crime no. I just find them boring. And I hate the gorey detail. Even in GoT I skim those bits!

Jaskla Wed 22-Jan-14 13:30:24

I really enjoyed Pillars of the Earth and went into it not having any expectations. I had actually never heard about the rave reviews and picked it up in a hotel library.

I really didn't like Wolf Hall though which others have mentioned. It's the only book I can recall giving up on completely.

Bubblegoose Wed 22-Jan-14 15:58:38

"Are they women behaving as men by any chance?"

What a weird thing to say. How do men behave then? Going out and doing interesting stuff while the simpering women sit at home and sew samplers?

Guess I must be guilty of behaving like a man then.

Plenty of strong female characters in fiction. Hester Prynne, Scarlett O'Hara, Becky Sharp ... just off the top of my head.

LornaGoon Thu 23-Jan-14 11:40:49

Yes, I found Pillars of the Earth was a bit long so I found myself skim reading after a while. I think his style might be euphemistically called 'populist' - hit a wide enough audience and it'll stick with someone.

The story and historical period are what interested me, which is why I read The Return by Victoria Hislop. Again, much skim reading, dull female characters and very badly written. Not sure how something this bad gets printed.

Margret Atwood does much better female characters and has written from various historical periods.

The Name of the Rose?
An oldie but goodie IMO.

Brienne in GoT is a female character that does all sorts of 'manly' stuff - as is Arya (I want Arya to be my daughter blush)

TheNightIsDark Thu 23-Jan-14 12:32:44

I want to be Arya. Failing that I'm pinning my hopes on DD having some of that spirit!

Arya was on my name list for DC3 blush

pointythings Fri 24-Jan-14 10:56:05

I liked Pillars of the Earth, but only as a bit of mindless trash reading. Read the sequel too, it was easy reading on the train and pacy enough, but I did get annoyed with the clunky writing and anachronisms - I mean, someone in Medieval times describing someone as 'their girlfriend'? hmm

I haven't read GoT at all yet, love the television series though. I'm keeping the books for when the series is finished. If the author doesn't conk before he finishes it.

I gave up on Wheel of Time after book five and still feel like slapping myself for giving it that long. Turgid, repetitive drivel and a story tat could be told in a total of three boks max.

AGoodPirate Fri 24-Jan-14 16:01:08

Hoonose actually I truly imagine that for you to say women (in books) bore you, you must have some sort of issue thing going on.

What do you enjoy about fiction? Women struggle, just like men, in novels. They prosper, fail, love, kill, hate, explore, fight, grow, learn, nurture, are jealous, they discover, they invent, know, change, they have feelings, they make mistakes, they're spoiled by power, they lose everything, redeem themselves, they are wicked and kind and funny. Like in real life!

BigBoPeep Sat 01-Feb-14 18:03:07

I found PotE absolute mindless trash. Like it was written by a 12yr old with rape and violence thrown in to show how grown up he was hmm. The bits that attempted to be written from the main woman's POV particularly grated on my brain. Rubbish rubbish rubbish.

Nothing to do with male orientated, I like male orientated stuff.

My friend described PotE as a cross between a cathedral building manual and soft porn. Which I think is a fairly good summary grin

BigBoPeep Sat 01-Feb-14 18:15:39

yer, soft, rubbish, implausible porn!

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