e Yesterday my French friend Sandrine had a headache Italians don t like to take Aspirin because it will destroy your liver, but Sandrine is French and has no problem with taking meds, so I offered her an Aleve If you don t want medicine, be Italian and kiss this, I said to her, holding up my pocket rosary Anyway, great book, totally fascinating, very different from Pillars of the Earth, and written by a guy who truly is a master writer.
Whether I ve been good or bad, I don t think God will be fooled by a last minute change of heartWorld Without End is the second installment in Follett s Kingsbridge series and what a world it is.
Set during one of the most turbulent times in European History, amidst the beginning of the Hundred Years War and the nightmare of the Black Death that swept over the continent causing the deaths of an unthinkable percentage of the population, it is one example of why Historical Fiction is the Genre of the Genres when done right And who can write better than Ken Follett who owns the crown in this field In my opinion, what differentiates his writing is the focus he places on the characters He doesn t perform a History lecture, but builds his protagonists around the depicted era with compassion, respect and immense skill His descriptive passages and the way he composes the dialogues throughout the novel should be the example for any writer who d like to make a foray to the tormented Historical Fiction genre So, World Without End is no exception to the rule He paints with words and even the readers who have little knowledge of the era and the events that shaped it will find themselves captivated and immediately drawn to the action However, in my humble opinion, there is a difference that places it in a significant distance behind The Pillars of The Earth and this is the characters Hence the 4 stars.
The main couple, Caris and Merthin, are nowhere near Aliena and Jack Especially Caris seems like an average copy of Aliena and her character failed to attract my sympathy Same thing happened with Merthin and don t even get me started on Gwenda, Ralph and Godwyn The way I saw it, they came across like badly drawn versions of The Pillars of the Earth protagonists and they were the only reason that prevented me from fully enjoying the novel Caris is not Aliena, Merthin is not Jack, Thomas in not Philip, Godwyn is not Waleran, Ralph is not William, no matter how much they tried to be The only characters that attracted my attention were Mattie Wise and Mother Cecilia The book was made into a TV series in 2012 but was nowhere near as successful as The Pillars of the Earth Tom Weston Jones portrayed Merthin and Charlotte Riley portrayed Caris I ve seen a number of their roles and they both seem to have the same expression in every role they ve played Namely, the I only have one expression with my googly eyes because I can t act for the life of me style and they managed to make the tormented lovers even boring than their novel counterparts so kudos to them.
I think A Column of Fire , the third novel in the Kingsbridge series, has been sitting quietly in its place in my TBR fortress since October, waiting for its turn It ll have to wait until Easter but I am sure that it won t disappoint me.
My reviews can also be found on World Without End Takes Place In The Same Town Of Kingsbridge, Two Centuries After The Townspeople Finished Building The Exquisite Gothic Cathedral That Was At The Heart Of The Pillars Of The Earth The Cathedral And The Priory Are Again At The Center Of A Web Of Love And Hate, Greed And Pride, Ambition And Revenge, But This Sequel Stands On Its Own This Time The Men And Women Of An Extraordinary Cast Of Characters Find Themselves At A Crossroads Of New Ideas About Medicine, Commerce, Architecture, And Justice In A World Where Proponents Of The Old Ways Fiercely Battle Those With Progressive Minds, The Intrigue And Tension Quickly Reach A Boiling Point Against The Devastating Backdrop Of The Greatest Natural Disaster Ever To Strike The Human Race The Black Death Here s a book that completely copies the first book in the series Here s a book that follows the same sense of narrative progression, character development and resolution as it predecessor It is one who s characters bear a striking resemblance to their ancestors in terms of individual personality and their place within the story yet, for all the repetition, Follett churns out an equally as engrossing story as that of The Pillars of the Earth.
What have I to complain about This is one of those rare occasions when of the same isn t necessarily a bad thing And the sense of familiarity also helped to solidify that this is actually the same location, Kingsbridge, just a few centuries later Instead of focusing on building a new cathedral, after the dramatic burning down of the first one, the citizens are focusing on re building the town bridge after the other was destroyed by a stampede of angry witch burners And here s one of the things Follett does better this time round he explores social issues regarding femininity with greater depth In Pillars of the Earth he looked at injustices such as women being paid less for the same work and having to stay married to violent husbands In the fourteenth century here he looks at the fear and hysteria that surrounded women with knowledge If a woman had an idea or if she was moderately successful, it was a logical assumption that she must be a witch It s unthinkable that she could have done such a thing based upon her own merits And if this wasn t bad enough, men were always seen as right even when they were so clearly wrong The response to the Black Death that sweeps across Kingsbridge shows this The monks have some very backwards ideas to medicine such as applying dung poultices to wounds and then wondering why they become infected The sisters of the priory recognise the folly of this and argue for a modern approach to treatment The practicalities of their ideas are ignored simply because they are women they must be wrong or witches The men in the book are either suffocating brutes or paragons of kindness and decency There seems to be no middle ground The women though, they have many chances to prove themselves and rise above restrictions of the church and society A strong romance against a backdrop of war and terrorIt was an odd relationship, but then she was an extraordinary woman a prioress who doubted much of what the church taught an acclaimed healer who rejected medicine as practised by physicians and a nun who made enthusiastic love to her man whenever she could get away with it If I wanted a normal relationship, Merthin told himself, I should have picked a normal girl As well as enduring the Black Death, Kingsbridge finds herself at the centre point of a massive court intrigue Decades ago Edward II was deposed by his own wife and her secret lover Now his son Edward III has his armies marching towards Kingsbridge due to some very disturbing rumours about a wayward knight Follett explores how such tumultuous actions affect the lives of the everyday people of the realm, of the builders and the nuns, who simply wish to live in happiness and peace Central to this story is a real human element of drama Everybody is out for themselves and despite the fact that they have known poverty and hardship, when they are placed in a position of power they only help to cause for those less fortunate There s a certain lack of empathy and self involvement that only serves to destroy communities The bridge though, and the building of it symbolises something much greater it symbolises strength and human spirit If the people can come together and re build it, in the midst of death carnage and misery, then they can survive anything Love, friendship and society will endure This book is over a thousand pages long, but for all that it is completely griping, entertaining and thoroughly dramatic This is my favourite historical fiction series, I recommend it most highly.
World Without End BY KEN FOLLETT There are books that you read, with vaguely interesting stories, that sometimes within less than a month have been forgotten, ignored, barely recollected except for title, author and a minor recall of plot Then there are books that change your mind on life, that give you a thrill as you read them and think about how much you re loving to read this particular book, and how it s making such an impression on you, and how you re going to remember it for a long part of your life I don t need to tell you which kind of book World Without End is I m also not going to give you a formal, regurgitated plot summary that you can find in just about any review of this book I am however going to try to convince you why you should read this book with the intention that it will have the same pivotal impression on you as it did on me.
While I have never been a fan or proponent of the seemingly omnipotent Oprah and her book club, she nevertheless has the power to make a considerable number of Americans do, and importantly, read whatever she tells them In January of this year, Oprah nominated Ken Follett s Pillars of the Earth for her book club and overnight people of all different kinds, and of unexpected types, picked up this lofty paperback tome set in the Middle Ages and documenting the fascinating building of a giant cathedral with immense architectural detail It s one of my favorite books, and to see so many people buying it and reading it made me happy Naturally, once these people got to the last page of Pillars of the Earth, and assuming they enjoyed it as much as Oprah said they would, they would then turn to World Without End Follett s new book has been labeled as the sequel of Pillars of the Earth, which is not exactly correct, for none of the original characters are in the new book, and it is set in a later period, however it involves descendants of the main family in Pillars of the Earth, and there is the memory and impression left by characters both in historical record and physical form, such as the cathedral But World Without End takes many giants leaps further forward as a deeper and complex book than Pillars of the Earth ever did, equivalent to an ant making its way along a path, while a person looks down upon the ant as they walk by Perspective is the key here, and if one has some knowledge of the fourteenth century, one will enjoy the book all the.
Don t look for the good guys to always win out, and the bad guys to fail in World Without End because, like real life, this world does not reward those who do good and punish those who do bad it s a harsh world that gives opportunity to the survivors of the fittest You must also remember that this is the fourteenth century, the time of the peasant and noble, a time where class distinction was at the most severe and was a defining character of every person Though while there is all this suffering, one cannot help but think at some point it must get better for the characters you like, and worse for the characters you hate, and this is after all a novel, but don t expect Follett to do anything you might predict.
The fourteenth century had a lot going on throughout Europe, and what makes World Without End an incredible novel, is that Follett uses the monumental and catastrophic events in microcosm focused on couple of small towns in England There was a cooling of temperatures, which led to crop failure and starvation for many peasants, known as the Great Famine coupled with this was the uprising of peasants against their noble overlords, who had subjugated and oppressed them for so long, known as the Peasant s Revolt There was the growing guild system, where anyone wanting to become skilled in a trade would have to be invited to become a member of a guild Then there was horrific plague that was estimated to wipe out half the population of Europe, known as the Black Death There was also the moving of the papacy from Rome to Avignon, France, which created a fission in the Christian faith and led to questioning and critique of the absolute religion Finally there was the seemingly never ending Hundred Years War.
Follett skillfully uses these events in World Without End, weighing in at 1024 pages, but never overtly calls out any of them for what they are, partly because a lot of the terms and names for the events were not yet in existence, and because he seeks to be less overt and obvious, but to have these events occur in most cases beyond the scope of these small towns, to be events occurring far away that have little importance and effect on the citizens of the town much like the Iraq War is for the American people today At least this seems the case at first, and then the subliminal effects come into play, where men head off to war, craftsmen have to fight to get into guilds, peasants are suffering and in some cases starving, the church is overbearing in its control and being questioned, and finally with the arrival of the plague, the people s lives and the towns are changed forever.
World Without End takes you on a journey through the fourteenth century, but not via a history lesson, but in the important and complex lives of some ordinary townspeople of varying classes, their loves and losses, their hopes and dreams, their despair and suffering It s a moving and some might say depressing book, but as I mentioned, the fourteenth century was a tumultuous time to say the least But when you get to the last page, you ll wish it had never happened, you ll wish for story, for characters, you ll wish to remember this incredible story for a long time.
FOOTNOTE Just as World Without End has 1024 pages, conveniently and maybe with a little effort on my part these review has 1024 words For book reviews, and author interviews, go to BookBanter.
World Without End is written in the third person but isn t choppy like some third person books are I loved that we get to see the characters grow up and mature They all encounter hardships war, death, disappointed hopes and dreams, the black plague but never stop fighting and never give up hope I really enjoyed reading about the advances in medicine and what people believed to be cures bloodletting, poultices made with dung, balancing the humours of the body Physicians believed that diseases could be transmitted by looking at a sick person because the eyes have feelers that touch things in order to see them Isn t that wild When the black plague befalls the country, one of the nuns wants to wear a mask over her nose and mouth to prevent transmission of the disease and this is treated like heresy I also enjoyed reading about the politics of the church There was definitely corruption in World Without End than there was in The Pillars of the Earth Of course, the fact that The Pillars of the Earth s main character was a humble and worthy prior may have something to do with that I am in awe of Follett s plot He weaves the stories together in a way that they all make sense and seem cohesive The last thing I enjoyed reading about was the architecture Now, the descriptions were hard to read, which they were but they were also really informative and practical to the story I m not a fan of architecture, but reading about how they had to build things back then was pretty fascinating to me.
When I finished the book, I was left with a feeling of hope I think the ending is totally appropriate It s not so perfect that it s unrealistic I think that s the special thing about Follett s writing he makes you feel what his characters are feeling.
Set two centuries after Pillars of the Earth, the people of Kingsbridge are at it again The cathedral built in Pillars is in disrepair after part of the roof caved in, the bridge collapsed, and the prior is dead Also, the constant maneuvering continuesSo, I fell into a trap with this one After devouring Dinocalypse Now in a morning, my girlfriend asked if I managed to read an entire book in four hours I said I had and she slammed me with this, saying it shouldn t take me than a few days Sighing, before I knew it, I was engrossed and asking her if Ralph was going to be the asshole rapist bully in this one I still hate that Will Hamleigh Much like Pillars of the Earth, World Without End follows the lives of a number of characters Merthin the carpenter, his brother Ralph the squire, a poor girl named Gwenda, Wulfric the laborer, Godwyn the monk, and several others As I predicted, Ralph was the asshole rapist of the book What a nun mugger that guy was As with Pillars of the Earth, twists abound and the 14th century is not a good place to be a woman Hell, it doesn t sound like that great of a place to be a man either, but the women get the short end of the stick for the most part There s just as much scheming as in the first book and just as many people making decisions that would later bite them in the ass While World Without End happens years later, it very much picks up the style and flavor of The Pillars of the Earth So much that it s very nearly the same book with slightly different characters As near as I can tell, Follett s master plot generator goes something like this 1 Things are going good2 A problem arises3 Problem solved, leading to unforeseen results4 Goto 1It s still a fun read that messes with your emotions but some of the magic is gone once you catch the rhythm of the plot Kind of like how M Night Shyamalan s movies aren t as fun once you start trying to figure out what the big twist is going to be as soon as the movie starts It was exhausting to read at times, not because of the prose, which is breezy and accessible, but because of plot twists every 6.
5 pages It doesn t really build toward anything besides the next iteration of the good guys getting screwed over and the bad guys having good things happen to them.
Since it s hard to review a book of this size without revealing too much, here are some closing points 1 The late 1300 s were just as rape y as the 1100 s of the first book.
2 I wanted to smack Merthin silly Then again, we men tend to do stupid things when sex is on the table Or bed, floor, car hood, etc3 Godwyn, though one of the good guys at the beginning, is still a tool.
4 Accusing women of being a witch is some serious shit.
5 Ken Follett and George R.
R Martin both went to the school of screwing over characters as much as possible.
6 Getting flayed would suck.
7 The blurb mentions the Black Death but it doesn t make an appearance until after the halfway mark.
8 Every time someone mentioned the bishop, I thought of a certain Monty Python sketch.
9 My favorite line was Sleeping next to her was like lying with a dead cow Three stars I think I m Folletted out for the time being.
5 stars to Ken Follett s World Without End One of my favorite books of all time I was just mesmerized by the characters and everything they went thru It is a MUST read.
It s a long read, and it takes place hundreds of years ago, but if you can handle the primitive nature of the timeline, the various plots and subplots will astound you Amazing.
I kept getting angry at all the tragedy thrown at the two main characters How could they suffer so much And for years I ll stop there as I don t want to give it away, but please read this one FAVORITE BOOK
Put some towels down because I sense a fully formed gush geyser about to spill all over this review This book was fantastic and really did it for me I loved it, all 1000 pages, and I wouldn t have minded if it was considerably longer TWSS After than loving The Pillars of the Earth that s right, I lurved it , I had tall hopes for this sorta sequel and let me tell you it was than up to the task I was parched and hungry for a good meaty read Well consider me gorged and my story thirst completely slaked Now before I continue operation lick spittle on Mr Follett for his 2nd delightfully voluptuous epic, let me shine some context on this review so it will better help you decide whether this book is right for you 1 As I mentioned above, I thought The Pillars of the Earth was pure, uncut awesome I my satisfaction gauge red lined while I was reading it If you had similar feelings for Pillars, than World Without End is going to make you happier than Alternatively, if heaven forbid you thought Pillars was a Meh filled bore fest or it just didn t push your joy buzzer, I see no reason why this book will be any different as the books are almost identical in tone and structure Thus, you might look want to go elsewhere 2 Assuming you haven t read Pillars which is certainly not a prerequisite for this book , if you get through the first 100 pages or so and find yourself anxious for something to happen, again this may not be your kind of book In my opinion, the book should grab you roughly and carry you away and if that doesn t happen or if you find yourself disconnected from the characters, then this could be a real slog for you 3 I listened to the unabridged audiobook all 45 hours of it read by the incomparable John Lee who also narrated Pillars John s narration is masterful and definitely enhanced my happy with the story I don t know if I would have had quite the level of appreciation, but for John s involvement If you are a fan of audio books, I would highly recommend this one or anything else read by John Lee Okay, I just wanted to get that out there, because the rest of the review is pretty much a Ken Follett, fanBOYatic extravaganza so let the man crushing begin This story is prodigious, sprawling and addictive than caramel covered crack This is big, bad historical soap opera at its full on finest complete with everything that makes a great period piece politics, intrigue, alliances, betrayals, fortunes won and lost, life long grudges, loves, jealousies, deaths, plot twists, unspeakable crimes e.
, rapes, murders, etc , conflict between major powers, reformers versus status quo, good vs evil and a mysterious letter the contents of which could shake the foundations of the Monarchy itself.
Boo Yah Set approximately 200 years after the events of The Pillars of the Earth in the same fictional town of Kingsbridge, England, this story is set against the backdrop of, and incorporates into its narrative, the beginning of the Hundred Years War and the outbreak and spread of the Black Plague These events intersect with the lives of the inhabitants of Kingsbridge in significant ways and Follett does an amazing job painting a credible and highly entertaining portrait of life during the period.
Follett introduces and weaves into his vast tapestry dozens of well drawn, intriguing figures who each play a critical role in the outcome of the epic However, the narrative flow centers primarily on the lives of four key people The first of these is Caris, a strong, intelligent, enlightened woman who is the primary proponent for change in Kingsbridge and the main enemy of the old guard status quo represented by the Kingsbridge monastery and Prior Godwyn Caris strongly desires to be a healer and treat the sick at a time when only men may be physicians and the remedies supported by the Church are as bad as the illnesses they seek to cure Caris is out to change that Merthin is a smart, extremely talented architect whose innovative and radical designs are instrumental throughout the story Merthin and Caris are deeply in love but events and their own personal integrity constantly conspire to keep them apart Next is Gwenda who is a favorite character of mine Gwenda suffers unimaginable heartache and grief than any other character in the story and yet remains unbowed by what life throws at her Sold by her destitute father for a cow yes, a cow , Gwenda finds herself on her own early in life and ends up thriving through her wits and huge reserves of inner strength She goes through some horrendous events as part of the story Finally, we have Ralph, Merthin s younger, stronger brother and main though by no means only villain of the story A rapist, a sadist and a murderer, Ralph is as devoid of empathy as it is possible to be He is the Lord of Scumbaggery and the epitome of callousness and abject cruelty Some of the things he does throughout the story are truly shocking and get worse as he gains and influence On a side note how cool is it to have a main nemesis named.
Joining the above is a stellar cast of supporting characters that all engaging and complex Follett has a real knack for showing us villains through there own eyes and making them seem human and thus all the evil As for the writing itself, Follett really gets the hat tip from me on this point Not for its poetry or majestic beauty though I thought his prose was excellent Rather for its incredibly engaging, breezy readability Despite being over 1000 pages long and having almost the whole story take place in a single small town, I was hooked from the very beginning and never had a moment in which my attention wanted to stray Follett s prose is like a strong but gentle current that just picks you up and carries you through the story until you eventually reach the end and realize how very far you ve traveled It was a greatly impressive feat World Without End is sublimely entertaining and I have rarely been this completely snatched and cloistered inside its narrative as I was from the very outset of this I don t know that I liked this quite as much as The Pillars of the Earth, but that s trying to discern gnat crap from pepper and is due completely to the fact that I read Pillars first Given how similarly both books are structured it makes sense that this one wouldn t feel as fresh and new.
That said, Mr Follett PLEASE don t go messing with the formula because it is working like a charm This is quintessential story telling and a masterful piece of historical fiction More please 5.
0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION.
This companion novel to Follett s 1989 classic The Pillars of the Earth is set in the same community, 200 years later I d been excited about it ever since I heard it was coming out this fall Maybe too excited, because it just didn t live up to my expectations.
The first half of the book seemed a sort of ho hum retread of Pillars In place of Jack Builder, we have his look alike great great great many times over grandson, Merthin Instead of Aliena, we get Caris who I wanted to slap several times during the course of the story Instead of Big Villain William, we get Ralph, Merthin s knightly but less than chivalrous brother And a bridge building project stands in for the cathedral construction of the first book As if anything could The only character I found remotely original was the first one we meet in the book, a little girl reduced to pickpocketing by her starving parents, who grows up to be hopelessly in love with a handsome, honest young farmer.
I missed Prior Philip, from the original book, who was a character who at least had some integrity and depth to him All the clergy in World Without End seemed to be corrupt including the ones we re supposed to like.
Something big happens about halfway through, to change the book s course and it doesn t get resolved as quickly as I thought it would but the big payoff from the opening scene never materializes That s IT I wanted to say when I read the explanation of what happened There are some good scenes, showing how war and pestilence affect ordinary folk but the heroes in this book talk and think too much like people from the 21st Century to make the setting really believable If you loved Pillars , you might as well try this one, but it s not any great shakes.