this book came to me with nicknames like "the brick" and warnings that I could skip over any overlong descriptions of boring things like buildings or breaking bread. I was mentally prepared for page long sentences and descriptions of city neighborhoods like in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but that's not what I found in The Pillars of the Earth at all.
The beginning was not what I expected, and was decidedly more "Nora-Roberts-esque". I repeatedly wondered to myself where this was all going, but found myself coming back to it again and again as a comfortable thing to read. It felt like an adult version of "David Macaulay's Cathedral" book, which I loved as the PBS television story of a town's cathedral building. Through all the setbacks and disasters the story was ultimately about the cathedral. The similarity to the Macaulay work made it a comfortable and easy thing to read even if I wasn't drawn in by the story.
Eventually, however, I was totally absorbed by the novel as a story about privilege. Who has it, and who uses it to what end? I'd never read something like this before that looked at a Medieval society with this degree of realism, and the ways that privilege can frustrate justice as we know it now. Naturally, our own time comes to mind and I have to wonder, for all our institutions that guarantee justice, to what degree do each of us use our privilege to get what we want and subjugate others?