Mild spoilers ahead.
After finding out that one song on the recent album of my favourite band Schandmaul was based on Ken Follett's 'The Pillars of the Earth', and after having been told repeatedly by one of my professors that it's the most widely read book in Germany (followed up by Lord of the Rings and some other book ... maybe the Bible?) I decided to give those 1000 pages a try. I never throught that a story that evolved mainly around the building of a medieval cathedral could interest me, but it did. There were a lot of repetitions, especially when characters had a closer look at each other, so the book would have probably profited from some more editing, but the vivid descriptions made up for that.
You believe Ken Follett when he tells his story. It's dark, it's cruel and it's realistic - not a fairytale. Similar to George R. R. Martin's 'The Song of Ice and Fire' there is no guarantee that your beloved characters will survive or come out of the trouble unharmed (which, again, is realistic, considering that the story spans over several decades). This is what's partly appealing about the book, even though the endless suffering is maybe a little too overdone, with too many tries to corrupt the building of the cathedral. Ken Follett also isn't very kind at all to his characters (which is good) - peasants get killed gruesomely and their wife's get raped, and the main couple of the whole story almost splits up because she can't bear anymore to not be able to live with her lover. But in the end, it's a book and the cause of this inability gets killed. So maybe it is a little bit of a fairytale after all.
I guess sometimes you just want books to tell you the truth. You want them to give you answers and solutions. Instead, you get miracles. And those are no good.
Of course, most of the time you want them to lie to you. You want them to tell you that everything is alright, and you want them to show you all those miracles and magicks.