The blockbuster book “The Pillars of the Earth” will probably become a blockbuster miniseries, if the promise of the first episode continues.

The plot of the book has it all: A king without an heir, whose son was probably assassinated when his boat was sabotaged, a wicked bishop who is trying to manipulate things to get his candidate chosen as the next king, a King’s daughter who as a proto-feminist resents that she cannot be the next monarch, and the horrors to common folks of a civil war that will hurt the innocent more than the nobility.

Against the forces of anarchy and greed stand a prior who wishes to build up his monastery, the local economy, and a cathedral (in that order), with Tom Builder and his stepson, eager and willing to build a beautiful church to inspire all who visit. Add to this a local dispossessed noble woman who is fighting to get back her land, and a sexy “witch”, and you have a story that has been enjoyed by millions.

Ah, but will the novel translate to screen?

Episode one suggests that it will. The first episode includes the introduction of most of the main characters, a problem that makes all “first episodes” confusing. However, the emphasis on the family of Tom the Builder helps keep the plot line stable, and the presence of the educated “witch” Helen allows the story to contain some PG sex and let us identify with her when her very modern skeptical opinions confront the medieval faith and superstitions of the others.

So if you like a good old fashioned story, with lots of good men, beautiful heroines, righteous churchmen, ambitious queens and evil villains both lay and clerical, I suggest you find the station in your area where it will be shown and put it onto your viewing schedule.

I give it a 4 out of 5 Stars.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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