From the outset, Pillars of the Earth gripped me. My imagination was captured by the day to day lives of some of the most real characters I have met between the pages of a novel. Each character evokes a response: compassion, respect, revulsion or even lust. The story spans many years, yet gives remarkable detail concerning the changing politics, lifestyle and even architectural and building practices of the day. I was given the book by a friend several years ago, and have given copies as gifts several times. My own copy is so battered from being read, reread, lent and returned that I'm now needing a replacement.