Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: The Pillars of the Earth & Prison Break

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
Genre: historical

Calling this an unusual book is a bit of an understatement. Ken Follett was already immensely popular for his political thrillers. And then he changed tracks, bringing everything about his previous books (fast-paced suspense, a deep understanding of human nature, unflinching violence, intricate political and family intrigue) to a book about building a 12th century cathedral. It's been on bestseller lists ever since. Who would have thought?
I’ll quote the Goodreads description:
This book tells the tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.

Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time—the twelfth century; the place—feudal England; and the subject—the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters—into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.

At once a sensuous and endearing love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age, The Pillars of the Earth is without a doubt Ken Follett's masterpiece.

Prison Break
Genre: television

Lincoln Burroughs, already a felon with a lengthy record, is accused of murdering the vice president’s brother and incarcerated at Fox River Penitentiary. The evidence is clear (fingerprints on the gun, surveillance video, bloody clothes), and his execution is fast-tracked through the system. His younger brother, Michael Scofield (a brilliant, successful, and squeaky-clean structural engineer), believes Burroughs is innocent and is being framed for the murder of someone many high-powered people wanted to kill.
So Scofield comes up with an elaborate plan to break his brother out of prison, has the plans (and the blueprint for the state penitentiary) worked into a tattoo that covers his entire upper body – and then holds up a bank and discharges a weapon, to ensure that he ends up in the same place as his brother.

Because one can't have too
many pictures of
Wentworth Miller. :)
This show has some of the best antagonists/villains I’ve ever seen. I love John Abruzzi the crime boss (played by Peter Stormare), and Robert Knepper does an amazing job as Theodore “T-Bag” Bagwell. I love how Scofield’s ridiculously well-laid plans keep taking left turns as he meets up with real-world complications, and as the number of people breaking out of prison with him gets larger and larger.
This show has many things I eat up in fiction – ensemble cast, politics, intrigue, humor, wit, and super-smart people on opposite sides of the same issue. It won a stack of awards while it was on air. The second and third seasons were filmed in Texas. Lots of celebrity sightings around here. J


  1. I LOVED Pillars of the Earth when I read it - it has been a few years now, but your review made me want to read it all over again. It is so amazing how he managed to keep readers interested in a book about the building of a cathedral. Really a testament to how good writing with solid characters and conflict can make just about anything a page turner.

    I haven't seen Prison Break - might have to check that out. :)

    1. Pillars of the Earth is so different - I wonder if it would even have gotten a publisher if it had been a debut novel. Did you read World Without End?

      I highly recommend Prison Break - unique premise and excellent execution!

  2. Wow, Pillars of the Earth sounds like an excellent read! I'll have to check it out.

    1. It's an awesome book. After the A-Z Challenge is over I might read it again...

  3. Holy cow! I just gave this book to my mom as a present. I think I'll be taking it back so I can read it. You make it sound so much better that the blurb, and the blurb is good but not like you. Go girl!

    Thanks for the advise.
    From Diary of a Writer in Progress