- William Hamleigh blames the decline of Shiring on the growth of Kingsbridge and Prior Philip. How much of the blame is to be placed on Kingsbridge, and how much of it on his own family's mismanagement?
- Otto Blackface once refused to fight for the quarry. When William's men invade, he leads the defense against them. What made Otto change his mind? What were the stonecutters really fighting for?
- Jonathan turns five years old in Part 3. He dresses like a monk and continues to be raised at the monastery where Philip loves him like a son. Do you think staying at the monastery is in Jonathan's best interest?
- As a squire, Richard impresses King Stephen and the court as a brave, strong fighter. What are his weakness? Is his financial dependence on Aliena based on a lack of ambition or simple necessity? Is he helping Aliena keep their promise to their father to reclaim Shiring?
- What are your impressions of King Stephen as a ruler? Is he the right choice to rule England, or would Maud bring more justice?
- Was it right for Philip to pray for King Stephen's defeat? Is he overstepping his role as a man of God by taking sides in the country's civil war?
- Prior Philip wants Jack to become a monk. Does he want Jack for selfish reasons, or does he really think it's Jack's best path? How much control does Jack really have over his future? Would he have had more or less freedom if he and his mother had remained in the forest?
- Why is Ellen reluctant to tell Jack the truth about his father? Is she trying to protect Jack or herself?
- William Hamleigh's savagery leaves Kingsbridge in limbo at the end of Part 3. How has Kingsbridge risen from the ashes before? Is fire a tool of destruction or cleansing? What do you think the future of Kingsbridge holds?
- Read the first scene in Chapter 10 and think about the prose style. Why do you think the author writes this way? Compare the last scene of the same chapter—the number of words of one syllable; the length of sentences; the length of paragraphs; the adjectives used. What is different about the author's purpose in these two scenes?
Part 3 Plot Points
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
More from the complete reading guide to The Pillars of the Earth.