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Sunday, February 22, 2009

In a time of civil war, famine and religious strife, there rises a magnificent Cathedral in Kingsbridge. Against this backdrop, lives entwine: Tom, the master builder, Aliena, the noblewoman, Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge, Jack, the artist in stone and Ellen, the woman from the forest who casts a curse. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.


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The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett happened as the last millennium dawned when Europe didn't amount to much. Illiteracy, starvation and disease were the norm.

In fact, Europe in the year 1000 was one of the world's more stagnant regions—an economically undeveloped, intellectually derivative, and geo-politically passive backwater.

Three short centuries later, all this had changed dramatically. A newly invigorated cluster of European societies revived city life, spawned new spiritual and intellectual movements and educational institutions, and began, for reasons both sacred and profane, to expand at the expense of neighbors who traditionally had expanded at Europe's expense.

Ken Follett has filled memorable details as he unfolds this story.

The novel treats medieval society: the warrior aristocracy of knights, castellans, counts, and dukes; the free and unfree peasants whose work in the fields made the existence of medieval society possible; and the townspeople, the artisans and merchants who represented the newest arrivals on the medieval scene.

It examines the intellectual and religious history of early medieval Europe. You study monks and the monastic life, charismatic preachers, and theologians. You examine the lives of those who found themselves outside the religious mainstream, especially the heretics and Jews of early medieval Europe.

Also it discusses partly the major political developments and events between 1000 and 1300, including the First Crusade, the Norman Conquest of England, and the granting of Magna Carta.

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