Meanwhile, Richard's outlaw army succeeds in humiliating William. It is not until the army stops William from raping a miller's wife that he realizes Richard is their leader. Determined to kill Richard, William asks Waleran to use his connection at Kingsbridge to find Richard's hiding place. That connection, Remigius, baits Jack's daughter Sally to find out where her uncle Richard is hiding. Remigius, who wants to become prior of Shiring's new cathedral, leaves Kingsbridge and intends to never return.
When William arrives to attack Richard, he finds only Ellen, who informs him the army has left to fight for Henry.
King Stephen starts peace talks with Duke Henry. They agree to return all lands to those who owned them under the first King Henry. That means Richard would rule Shiring, but the compromise might not take effect until after Stephen's death.
Aliena then devises a plan to seize Shiring while William is at court. Using her relationship with William's wife, Aliena sneaks into the castle. She makes her way to the countess, who welcomes her immediately and agrees to her plan. Elizabeth surrenders, and Richard rides in to reclaim the castle. Aliena is finally free from her father's promise.
Not everyone is happy with Richard's new position. Richard no longer allows Philip rights to the quarry because that was not the way things were done in the first King Henry's time. Jack tries to talk to Aliena about it, but she has other things on her mind. Now free from her father's shadow, she decides she must be free of Jack's. Because they cannot marry, she reluctantly decides to leave him.
After the coup, William retires to Hamleigh. He is haunted by nightmares of his mother after he is forced to stop work on the church. Waleran then arrives with news that the sheriff is dead and says he can ask Stephen to appoint William the new sheriff. As sheriff, he could move back to Shiring and have enough money for the church.
Philip and Jonathan travel to appeal the quarry issue to the sheriff but leave when they find out the new sheriff is William. On their way home, they stumble upon Remigius, whom William left in the cold after Richard's takeover. Philip gives him food and says he can return to Kingsbridge as a monk.
On a visit to Kingsbridge, Aliena lights into Richard about the quarry. Angry and wanting to be alone, she leaves the children with Jack in the village and heads to his house. She finds the door open and Alfred inside. With building halted in Shiring, Alfred is broke. Aliena refuses to give him money, and he attacks her. As Alfred tries to force himself on her, Richard bursts in and kills him.
At the funeral, William lays a trap to jail Richard for murder, and Richard seeks sanctuary at the monastery. Philip refuses to give Richard to William and creates a compromise the king accepts—Richard will do penance by fighting a crusades in the Holy Land. Aliena rules Shiring in his absence.
Despite the drama, Part 5has a happy ending—the marriage of Jack and Aliena.
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Part 5 reading questions
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 6
More from the complete reading guide to The Pillars of the Earth.