During his youth, orphaned thief Faris was flogged at the pillar in the town square and left to die. But a kind old man saved him, gave him a home, and taught him a profession. Now Faris is the herbalist for the town of Zidar, taking care of the injured and ill. He remains lonely, haunted by his past, and insecure about how his community views him. One night, despite his reluctance, he saves a dying slave from the pillar.
A former soldier, Boro has spent the last decade as a brutalized slave. Herbs and ointment can heal his physical wounds, but both men carry scars that run deep. Bound by the constraints of law and social class in 15th century Bosnia, Faris and Boro must overcome powerful enemies to protect the fragile happiness they’ve found.
A couple years ago, I read Brute, by this same author. The Pillar is similar in tone, but as much as I enjoyed Brute, I loved The Pillar even more. Kim Fielding has a way of taking characters that are imperfect - some by their pasts, or circumstance, some because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some just because they are so very human - but she tells us their stories and when I read them, I'm transported to another land or time or maybe to somewhere that doesn't exist at all outside her head, and now mine. And what a journey. The Pillar was an absolute delight to read.
Faris is the herbalist for his town. Many years ago, when Faris was a child, he was orphaned and left to fed for himself. Desperation to survive drove him to steal, and he got caught and sentenced to being chained to the town pillar and whipped until he was nearly dead. He was rescued and nursed back to health by the town herbalist and, later, taught as an apprentice. Faris knows he is very fortunate to have been taken in and cared for and he spends his life doing the same for others.
One night, Faris rescues another man, who had been chained to that same pillar and flogged until he was near death. Boro is a former soldier who had been taken and sold into slavery a decade before. But now, he is no longer a slave because he was left to die. Faris nurses Boro back to health and they grow closer until they become lovers.
The Pillar is a story of second chances. Of sacrifice. Of love and acceptance. It's historical to a degree, but it's also timeless in a way. I devoured it in one sitting and would definitely read it again. I know The Pillar isn't a new story, but if you have not read it, but you have read and enjoyed Brute, read this one. You won't regret it.
Review copy of The Pillar was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Get the book: