Greetings. A few weeks ago I was at my local bookstore and was pleasantly surprised
to find a copy of Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth.” I had heard great things about
the book and wanted to read it for years. Like a clueless rube I bought it and looked
forward to losing myself in the massive tome.  
However, I did not find it ejoyable and struggled to finish it.
Now this Sisyphean task has finally come to an end, and my analysis can be
condensed to: What a load of horseshit!!!

What’s this? Why attack a book that has been voted one of the most beloved in
the UK, sold millions, got great reviews, and been featured on Oprah Winfrey's
book club (remind me not to join)?  Why not live and let live, if so many love it?

Reasons:

1) The modest and sensible author does not need to lash out at others
- A distasteful and cowardly concept.
All creators of inferior material must feel the lash, and twice the serving to
those who dare praise such pigswill.

2) On the front cover it actually says: “The classic masterpiece”
What gall! If an author/publishing company puts that on the cover they
should deliver just that: A flawless work of excellent quality, a tome
of prefect prose, plot, setting, character development etc etc.
If this isn’t a case for the Better Business Bureau, I don’t know what is.  



3) If it was an average book of inferior craftsmanship I wouldn’t
have bothered reading/commenting on it. But as I was taken in
by all the hype and wasted my time and money on this 1080
pager, I do think it needs to be knocked of its pedestal. 

4) The sheer mystery of it. How can it be so loved and get good reviews? 
 


In all honesty – I want to like Pillars. I love history, the Middle Ages,
English culture and cathedral architecture etc.
The basic idea is great. But I found the book to be badly written and mediocre
at best.  I don’t like to criticize another author’s work and was uncertain if I
should post this or not.
Hey, I am an unpublished author and will probably need to write for
years/decades before/if I become good at my hobby. So who am I to
criticize Mr. Follett? I don’t have anything against him or the book,
and I wish him nothing but continued success for the rest of
his writing career. But I do think that praise should be warranted, especially
when there are so many great books that seem to slip into oblivion.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this “mass psychosis” or “Emperor’s New Clothes”
scenario.  I can understand if people like, or even love this book - tastes differ.
But anyone who claims that Pillars is a well written book or a masterpiece needs
to get their head examined – annually for the rest of their lives.


 Spoiler alert!!! Well, not really, as I don’t think it’s worth reading.
Why this “masterpiece”should be downgraded to the status of toilet roll:

1) Simplistic Writing.
 “Tom opened the door. Tom sat down. Tom ate some porridge.
Tom took a shit” What happened to - show, don’t tell? 
The book often repeats itself or makes things overly clear.
“Tom took of his jacket because it was hot. Then wiped his brow because
he was warm.” 
We already know it’s hot for fucks sake!!! Everybody makes mistakes
like this, and it’s the editor’s job to point them out.
But in pillars it is on every other page. A post online said
that this is what happens when an author gets too famous/powerful to listen to
his editor, if he had one, and I agree.
The use of adjectives is another thing. Everything is Terrifyingly, joyously,
priestly, churchly,  overwhelmingly etc etc – the use of one word to express
what is going on is just lazy. 
Sometimes I thought that I was reading a children’s story. And maybe it is?
Call me old fashioned, but if this is the case, I’m not sure that all the
graphic sex and rape scenes are appropriate.  


2) Unrealistic plot. 
Ex.a) Tom’s wife dies in the middle of winter. He has no problem in digging
her grave in the frozen ground, and then has sex with a woman who just chooses
this moment to show up out of  the woods, naked but for a cape(in winter).
Both their children are mysteriously absent or asleep.  

b) Tom the humble mason
  singlehandedly designs a cathedral.   


c) The naked lady, nowclothed, publicly pisses on a bible, runs off in the woods,
is forgiven after a year and then comes back. Later she interrupts a wedding
by cutting off the head of a hen and curses the wedding, now she lives in the
woods for many years butis kind of forgiven in the end.
Come on!! This is supposed to be the Middle Ages where people could get their
tongues pulled out, eyes put out and gettheir noses or ears clipped for the
slightest infraction. 
 
d) A woman leaves England with her baby and travels (alone in the middle ages)
all over France and Spain to find her lost lover. Naturally they find each other
and on the way back they stumble (by chance) upon his grandparents in a
random village, an event that conveniently solves one of the great mysteries of
the novel.

e) A guy is imprisoned in a cell, but of course there is a lose stone
in the floor, so he immediately escapes.   

It just goes on and on. Ridiculous plot turns and quick fixes.

3) Unrealistic/unconvincing dialogue  
This is supposed to be the Middle Ages, and I can’t help but cringe
every time he uses modern slang or modern sayings in dialogue or narrative.  

4) One-dimensional characters 
Either they are very good or very bad, often with no real explanation.
And there is virtually no character development, save a few bad guys who
repent at the end and turn super good. 
 
5) Historical inaccuracies  
 
6) Graphic sex and rape scenes

I’m usually all for sleaze. But the graphic sex and rape scenes in this book
seem out of place, and is used to sensationalize, more than being convincing
parts of the story. Especially during the explicit rape scenes I get the feeling
that Ken is typing with is left hand and pulling himself off with the right. 
 
Some of the above quotes are made up to illustrate my point 

On amazon.com - kindle, a whopping 67% of the readers gave it a five star.

They rave:
“Beautifully written, historically rich”
“Utterly mesmerized by every page”
“Possibly the best book I have ever read”
“My Favorite All-time Book”

Are these people on crack, or simply glue?
Or perhaps they are from a parallel universe where Pillars is actually good?

I am usually against censorship, but as I neared the end of this 1080page practical joke
I began longing for a “Fahrenheit 451” society.  

And for those who still think it’s good – you’re wrong!!!
And that goes for you as well - mum.

I’d love to hear your views. So come on, shoot !!!

Adeus
 
 
A friend of mine asked: “why compromise” as a reply on facebook and it gave me the idea for this long overdue entry.

Well it’s not all about compromising.
All authors benefit from having an editor comment upon their work – noob or pro.
Sure we might not agree on all things, but you can’t expect a publishing house
to spend both their time and money on a novice writer and not have a say. There
is also the reader to think of, they must find the book interesting and easy to
read. If I would only think about myself then why try to get published? Then I
might as well write for my own amusement and let the manuscript collect dust. As
a writing noob I’ve learned tons these last few months. It very easy to become
blind to certain flaws errors in the text – until someone points them out, and
you go: “What a dummy I’ve been, I can’t believe I missed that” ;)

A book can contain thousands of lines and hundreds of jokes, and if and editor what to cut a few, it really isn’t a big deal. Ok - honestly? Sometime it is ;)
“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” –William Faulkner.
In my experience, however, you have to rape and mutilate your darlings. Killing is the easy part.

I am halfway through Ken Follett’s 1080 page “Pillars of the Earth”and I have to agree
with what a guy wrote online:
“This is what happens when an author gets too famous/influential to listen to his editor – if he even had one.”  

The book has been described as a modern masterpiece, sold millions,
and has been voted one of the most loved books in the UK. Personally I find it
awful, and will post a review when I’ve finished.   

Ta-ta