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World Without End by Ken Follett

World Without End (original 2007; edition 2010)

by Ken Follett

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8,169238383 (4.03)1 / 392
Title:World Without End
Authors:Ken Follett
Info:Signet (2010), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback, 1024 pages
Tags:historical fiction, 14th century England, female protagonist, mothers and sons, disturbing

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World Without End by Ken Follett (2007)


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English (203)  Spanish (8)  German (7)  French (7)  Catalan (3)  Italian (2)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hungarian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (237)
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
My mom's review was succinct and dismissive: "Pillars was better, and there's a lot of sex in it." Stubborn as always, I read it anyway and had some fun. This sequel follows the character template set out by "Pillars of the Earth": noble heroes wrestling with morals, and delusional jealous villains who don't have any. The author does the neat trick of turning the template on its head, where it is now the cathedral that mostly houses the antagonists as it symbolically decays. There's the same mix of monks, architects, artists, merchants and knights, with Oxford grads starting to appear. Also a similar assortment of petty intrigue, violence and sex. The plot's nastiest events turn upon manipulating backwards mores and laws of the period as if to clearly demonstrate why they were abandoned.

I picked up a lot of medieval knowledge, assuming I can trust it, and cared enough about the characters to stay interested. It seems well researched, and the author clearly knows how to follow the ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships. But a bridge isn't as epic a project as a cathedral, and it doesn't suffice to hang all the rest on. A number of small things irritated me, too numerous and unimportant to mention. Its worst crime is that while Ken Follett has a sharp talent for keeping rapidfire sequential events interesting, they aren't aimed towards achieving anything except the 1000-page quota. In other words, Pillars is better. And there's definitely a lot of (male fantasy) sex in it. ( )
  Cecrow | Nov 27, 2015 |
Not quite as attention-grabbing as Pillars, and found quite a bit of repetitiveness. A worth-while read nonetheless. ( )
  JessLJones | Sep 10, 2015 |
  rouzejp | Sep 2, 2015 |
I so enjoyed Pillars of the Earth that when I heard about this book I knew I had to read it ... I was not disappointed. It is a BIG book and I think I worked on my bi-ceps just carrying it around, but so worth the read. Anyone enjoying historical fiction both of these books are great. Although World Without End does seem like the sequel to the first, I believe the order of the reading does not matter.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
Not a good as Pillars of the Earth, but nevertheless a compelling read. The characters are worked out beautifully, but because of the large numbers (4 main characters seems a lot), there are too many gaps in their individual stories.

Wonderful however to get so entrenched in the wonderfully described medieval setting.

Truly great book! ( )
  bbbart | May 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
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Please distinguish Ken Follett's original 2007 novel, World Without End from any abridged audio edition of the complete work. Thank you.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0525950079, Hardcover)

Ken Follett has 90 million readers worldwide. The Pillars of the Earth is his bestselling book of all time. Now, eighteen years after the publication of The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett has written the most-anticipated sequel of the year, World Without End.

In 1989 Ken Follett astonished the literary world with The Pillars of the Earth, a sweeping epic novel set in twelfth-century England centered on the building of a cathedral and many of the hundreds of lives it affected. Critics were overwhelmed--"it will hold you, fascinate you, surround you" (Chicago Tribune)--and readers everywhere hoped for a sequel.

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 crossroad 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.

Three years in the writing, and nearly eighteen years since its predecessor, World Without End breathes new life into the epic historical novel and once again shows that Ken Follett is a masterful author writing at the top of his craft.

Questions for Ken Follett

Amazon.com: What a phenomenon The Pillars of the Earth has become. It was a bestseller when it was published in 1989, but it's only gained in popularity since then--it's the kind of book that people are incredibly passionate about. What has it been like to see it grow an audience like that?

Follett: At first I was a little disappointed that Pillars sold not much better than my previous book. Now I think that was because it was a little different and people were not sure how to take it. As the years went by and it became more and more popular, I felt kind of vindicated. And I was very grateful to readers who spread the news by word of mouth.

Amazon.com: Pillars was a departure for you from your very successful modern thrillers, and after writing it you returned to thrillers. Did you think you'd ever come back to the medieval period? What brought you to do so after 18 years?

Follett: The main reason was the way people talk to me about Pillars. Some readers say, "It’s the best book I’ve ever read." Others tell me they have read it two or three times. I got to the point where I really had to find out whether I could do that again.

Amazon.com: In World Without End you return to Kingsbridge, the same town as the previous book, but two centuries later. What has changed in two hundred years?

Follett: In the time of Prior Philip, the monastery was a powerful force for good in medieval society, fostering education and technological advance. Two hundred years later it has become a wealthy and conservative institution that tries to hold back change. This leads to some of the major conflicts in the story.

Amazon.com: World Without End features two strong-willed female characters, Caris and Gwenda. What room to maneuver did a medieval English town provide for a woman of ambition?

Follett: Medieval people paid lip-service to the idea that women were inferior, but in practice women could be merchants, craftspeople, abbesses, and queens. There were restrictions, but strong women often found ways around them.

Amazon.com: When you sit down to imagine yourself into the 14th century, what is the greatest leap of imagination you have to make from our time to theirs? Is there something we can learn from that age that has been lost in our own time?

Follett: It’s hard to imagine being so dirty. People bathed very rarely, and they must have smelled pretty bad. And what was kissing like in the time before toothpaste was invented?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Two centuries after the building of the elaborate Gothic cathedral in Kingsbridge, its prior finds himself at the center of a web of ambition and revenge that places the city at a crossroad of commerce, medicine, and architecture.

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