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World Without End (TV tie-in) PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: World Without End (TV tie-in)
Author: Ken Follett
Publisher: Published August 2nd 2012 by Pan (first published October 4th 2007)
ISBN: null
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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TV tie-in edition of Ken Follett's worldwide bestselling epic masterpiece

30 review for World Without End (TV tie-in)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    We who are born poor have to use cunning to get what we want. Scruples are for the privileged. I must confess-- I am addicted to these Ken Follett novels. I finished World Without End and had to pick up A Column of Fire immediately. I'm also going to get to his Century trilogy at some point. These books are bloodstained historical soap operas and I just can't get enough. Follett knows how to create exactly the right amount of drama and set it to the gory backdrop of history. I've always loved b We who are born poor have to use cunning to get what we want. Scruples are for the privileged. I must confess-- I am addicted to these Ken Follett novels. I finished World Without End and had to pick up A Column of Fire immediately. I'm also going to get to his Century trilogy at some point. These books are bloodstained historical soap operas and I just can't get enough. Follett knows how to create exactly the right amount of drama and set it to the gory backdrop of history. I've always loved being taken back to times that I've only read about in passing and here we see the horrors of the Black Death up close. It is one thing to read a textbook about the illness, its symptoms and its wide reach - wiping out up to 60% of Europe's population - but it's another thing entirely to be taken into the lives of characters we come to love and seeing it firsthand. Knowing at any minute that they or their families could be next. It was a truly horrific and frightening disease, and I think the author captures that really well. Follett once again utilizes a technique that worked very well for him in The Pillars of the Earth - the plot is often driven by our hatred for certain characters. In the previous book, it was William Hamleigh. Here, there are a number of candidates competing for our hatred; namely, Ralph, Godwyn and Philemon. It's pretty effective to despise a character so deeply that we absolutely must read on to see them get their just desserts. It's also just a fascinating portrait of everyday life in 14th century England. Two hundred years after the events of The Pillars of the Earth, Kingsbridge now has a nunnery (which makes for some interesting politics as the monks try to control the nuns, but they are some seriously badass women) and the Guild plays an important part in decisions for the town, as well as the Priory. It's hard to explain - between the deaths, disease and war - how much enjoyment there is in the everyday lives of these people, as we live with them through romance, poverty, heartbreak and betrayal. AND these books are so so easy to dip in and out of. I rarely feel ready to commit to a thousand-page book, but I can easily read this alongside other books and return to the story and characters without a problem. So much fun and drama. Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    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 more 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 more than up to the task. I was parched and hungry for a good meaty read. Well consider me gorged and my story 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 more 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 more 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 more 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.g., 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 more 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 more and more influence. On a side note…how cool is it to have a main nemesis named….RALPH. 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 more human…and thus all the more 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.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    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 severa 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.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookdragon Sean

    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 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 terror “It 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 more 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.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amalia Gavea

    “Whether I’ve been good or bad, I don’t think God will be fooled by a last-minute change of heart.” ‘’World 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 more example of why Historical Fiction i “Whether I’ve been good or bad, I don’t think God will be fooled by a last-minute change of heart.” ‘’World 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 more 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 more 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 https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Dana Ilie

    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 di 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 more 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.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dan Schwent

    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 continues... So, 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 more than a few d 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 continues... So, 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 more 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 good 2. A problem arises 3. Problem solved, leading to unforeseen results 4. Goto 1 It'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, etc... 3. 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.

  8. 4 out of 5

    James

    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 wa 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!!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    La Petite Américaine

    In all practical theory, this book should be on my 'Sucked' shelf. It's a tale of the Middle Ages, the gross injustices of the time, and it truly amounts to a thousand-page Medieval soap opera. It hasn't got much to do with it's predecessor The Pillars of the Earth , except that it's in the same location 200 years later, with characters that are "descendants" of the Pillars characters. There's none of the complex building and architectural aspects found in Pillars, the graphic sex and violence In all practical theory, this book should be on my 'Sucked' shelf. It's a tale of the Middle Ages, the gross injustices of the time, and it truly amounts to a thousand-page Medieval soap opera. It hasn't got much to do with it's predecessor The Pillars of the Earth , except that it's in the same location 200 years later, with characters that are "descendants" of the Pillars characters. There's none of the complex building and architectural aspects found in Pillars, the graphic sex and violence has been toned down, several aspects of the plot are predictable, and the dialogue seems strikingly modern for a novel set in the 14th century. So, why is this book not on my 'Sucked' shelf? ... Because it KICKED ASS. With all of the above-mentioned problems in the book, it takes on hell of an author to pull off this kind of novel. Kenn Follett just plain rules. The story goes at a breakneck pace, the descriptions of the feudal system are fascinating, and the characters are complex and multi-faceted. For every (small) predictable plot twist, there are a million little shockers, and at the end, there are a few questions about the truth lingering. Frickin great. I also found Follett's descriptions of the complete powerlessness of women and the ultimate authority of the nobles described with total intensity, and they are displayed over and over again through the stories of the characters. Equally interesting were the power struggles between the church, the people, and the nobility. Conflict everywhere! Love it! Another great aspect of this book was the concentration on Medieval ideas about health and medicine, especially during the time of the plague. Given that monks are the only physicians, the best cures are blood-letting and applying goat-shit to open wounds to form a "healthy" pus. If you sit closer to the altar in the church hospital, you'll heal faster. [Although slight scientific advances are made in the book, the lingering affects of the church's bogus medical ideas seem to have transcended the centuries to live on in modern Italy: cover your stomach to avoid catching a cold, wait 3 hours after eating before you swim or you'll drown, sunflower oil is good for the flu, humidity causes low blood pressure, and canker sores are caused by indigestion. A complete aversion to all forms of medicine are also fundamental in this society. (i.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. KICKED ASS.

  10. 5 out of 5

    James

    Follett finally completed the sequel to his evergreen historical novel, The Pillars of the Earth, and although I was compelled by the story enough to read all 1024 pages in a week, I was saddened at how poorly the book compares with its predecessor. It is interesting to consider the nearly 20 years between the first book and this sequel. Many things have changed in our culture since then, leading Follett to inject even more egregious anachronisms into this book than the first. For example, the ch Follett finally completed the sequel to his evergreen historical novel, The Pillars of the Earth, and although I was compelled by the story enough to read all 1024 pages in a week, I was saddened at how poorly the book compares with its predecessor. It is interesting to consider the nearly 20 years between the first book and this sequel. Many things have changed in our culture since then, leading Follett to inject even more egregious anachronisms into this book than the first. For example, the characters at one point fret over the self-esteem of a teenage girl. There are many further examples but I will spare you. More telling is the apparent shift Follett has undergone in what he believes we want to read about. For example, the first book avoided homosexuality, despite the many opportunities to explore it in a monastery. The second, now twenty years deeper into the gay rights movement, explores gay relationships with a frank openness more consistent with San Francisco circa 2000 than the Britain of the 1300s. I am most personally disappointed that the author did not again craft a thoughtful and multi-dimensional portrayal of a man of faith. The character of Prior Philip stands as the hallmark achievement of the first novel. Prior Philip was a man filled with the desire to do what is right by God and by his fellowmen but sometimes unable to know what would be right and what cost was worth bearing to do it. This is my personal experience of what most spiritual leaders are like. In contrast, the religious figures in the sequel are all one-dimensional sycophants or toadies, ingratiating themselves with higher ups for their own personal gratification, betraying their own principles regularly, and considering faith a stepping stone rather than an end in itself. The one sympathetic, intelligent, and thoughtful religious character is a woman who is technically an athiest, and only joined a convent to avoid being tried as a witch. She is consistently smarter and more capable than all other religious figures and her athiesm is continually cited as the engine behind her industriousness and her unique interpersonal gifts. I've met athiests like that, but I've also met religious people like that and you'd think that a novel that spans fifty years of religious life in a town where all activity centers on a cathedral might include even one intelligent, sincere devout person? Just one? The differences between these two books tells us much about ourselves and the kinds of things authors and editors believe we want to read. I wonder what a third book, written 20 years from now, would say about us?

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    After a lengthy hiatus Ken Follett returns to the series with a second epic tome, (if you pardon the pun) building on the Kingsbridge Cathedral theme laid out in Pillars of the Earth. It is now the mid-1300s, two centuries after Tom Builder, Jack, Aliena, and Prior Phillip helped shape this community. Their presence is felt through ancestral breadcrumbs and mentioned throughout the complex narrative that seeks to breathe new life into Kingsbridge. The narrative develops early with the emergence After a lengthy hiatus Ken Follett returns to the series with a second epic tome, (if you pardon the pun) building on the Kingsbridge Cathedral theme laid out in Pillars of the Earth. It is now the mid-1300s, two centuries after Tom Builder, Jack, Aliena, and Prior Phillip helped shape this community. Their presence is felt through ancestral breadcrumbs and mentioned throughout the complex narrative that seeks to breathe new life into Kingsbridge. The narrative develops early with the emergence of four children in the forest: Gwenda, Merthin, Philemon, and Caris. These four come from their distinct social, economic, and ancestral ties to Kingsbridgeons of old, but whose appearance will prove important throughout the book. While hiding, the children witness the torture of a knight, Thomas Langley, who is able to escape, but not before burying a secret document, which might be the reason he has been chased and tortured. Langley seeks to enter the priory and become a monk, where he will be protected from the outside world and able to devote himself to a new life. With the Cathedral casting a daunting shadow on the town, the economic stability of Kingsbridge seems less stable, as the Fleece Fair may suffer without a new bridge to transport much needed items from outside. The town of Shiring might profit, though locals are not yet ready to admit defeat and put off any construction for the time being. That gamble is foreboding, as there is chaos when the bridge does collapse and hundreds are caught on it, killing them in various forms. The Priory must take action, but the need for a new Prior takes precedence. Politics meets religion in this election as barters and bribes see young Godwyn assume the role, whose iron-fist is supported by his controlling mother. The new bridge commences, but not only after thorough examination and potential architectural analysis is done. Saving a few coins over stability becomes a strong issue, though the symbolic nature of the bridge, connecting economic stability to the town that seeks to link itself to new life, becomes apparent throughout the narrative. As time passes, those aforementioned children grow as well, finding themselves looking to take on trades or turn to the Church for solace. It is here that the drama of the novel builds and social interactions turn to lust and sexual dominance. Forbidden love is tested and sexual control is exerted, sometimes against the will of one participant. Much is asked about that document that Thomas Langley hid away, but there is more on the horizon to keep the locals concerned. After a time away, Merthin returns with an ominous gift from abroad, leaving Kingsbridge under the cloud of plague. No one is entirely safe and, like the bridge, many perish. Families are decimated and yet Prior Godwyn espouses that this is an Act of God, forcing some to swallow the hard pill of religious retribution. Follett illustrates this well throughout, as the sobering clash of complete devotion to God is weighted against the early understanding of disease transmission. Will prayer save you, or might precautions prevent infection? Even as Kingsbridge suffers, the Cathedral stands firm, though there is a need to revisit its foundations, at least in part. The symbolism of a renewed strengthening of part of its body parallels nicely with the constant rejuvenation of the populace and those who can trace their ancestral lines from the early founders of the town. Plague and general injury fuels a discussion about building a new hospital to treat the injured in one location and isolate those who are contagious in another, though this becomes a new religious and political discussion. What awaits Kingsbridge on the horizon is anyone’s guess, but there is surely no stagnancy when it comes to dramatic development, as scores of plots emerge throughout. Follett has emerged to develop another stunning piece that adds to the drama of his opening novel, yet leaves much room for further development, answered with the most recent (and final?) instalment in the Kingsbridge saga. Fans of Pillars will likely enjoy this piece, though there is still a need for patience and determination to sift through a much more character-developing based piece, which sees a generational development, rather than that of a stone structure. Highly recommended for those who have time and interest in a slowly evolving narrative. After admitting that he was out of his comfort zone with the opening novel, Follett continues tilling the soil with this an amazing series. Equally as epic in its development and final delivery, Follett is forced to use scores of characters to flesh out the story he wishes to present. Moving the story ahead two centuries, the characters will all differ from those found in Pillars, though the lineage that is mentioned and some of the mere characteristics of those featured herein allows the reader to feel a strong connection to all involved. Certainly, there will be some names who grace the story throughout and others who play their smaller roles to support, though the thread is not lost in the narrative. The four children who emerge from the beginning all branch out and develop their own lives, but it is impossible for the reader not to trace their growth (physical, emotional, and social) through the time period of this story. Love, death, rape, and domination all feature significantly and no character is kept completely protected from these themes. While Kingsbridge Cathedral stands strong in the background, readers are able to draw parallels between its development and the new architectural piece, the Bridge, that keeps all aspects of the town occupied. Politics seeps in as council and the Priory weigh in on the issue, forcing the higher-ups to also issue their own decrees. The symbolism of the experience is not lost on the attentive reader, though the political and economic arguments differ slightly. Kingsbridge is no longer a speck on the map, though it is still a developing community, receiving scant attention at times. As plague swept across the continent, Kingsbridge must suffer alone and find its own footing, but exemplifies resilience in the face of disaster. Follett is clear to instil these themes throughout, no matter the narrative twists presented. Again, some have criticised the book for being too long or too detailed, going so far as to inject the words “thick” and “monotonous” into their comments. I acknowledge these issues, but counter that this is not the type of novel that can be both rich and brief. Follett has surely taken a massive chunk and must process it, leaving only the most dedicated to synthesise it. There is no shame in admitting that the book is not for everyone, but those who are able to patiently remain enthralled, many gifts shall be granted. Follett has a purpose for taking the reader on this journey, particularly since he did such a wonderful job with the opening novel. I applaud that this is not a novel meant to appeal to the masses, for there seems to be an inherent dedication required before committing to the journey back to Kingsbridge. There is still much to be seen and more generations to come, their lives shaped by the firmly rooted cathedral, priory, bridge, and so much more. Follett has so much to offer and the journey is one that has me extremely excited. Kudos, Mr. Follett, for returning to this piece and building on its greatness. I am pleased to have been able to come back and read this again, fulfilling a reading challenge requirement, but also reminding myself why I love this type of story. This book fulfills Equinox I (A Book for All Seasons) Book Challenge for Topic #1: A Book set 500+ Years Ago Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/ A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    World Without End, a follow-up to Ken Follett’s surprise bestseller Pillars of the Earth, steals a page from the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure playbook. A motley collection of insipid characters – if possible, even stupider and less realistic than Bill & Ted – get into a time machine and travel back to year 1327 and the village of Kingsbridge… Wait. Oh, wait. There are no time machines? The characters in World Without End are supposed to represent actual people from the 14th century? World Without End, a follow-up to Ken Follett’s surprise bestseller Pillars of the Earth, steals a page from the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure playbook. A motley collection of insipid characters – if possible, even stupider and less realistic than Bill & Ted – get into a time machine and travel back to year 1327 and the village of Kingsbridge… Wait. Oh, wait. There are no time machines? The characters in World Without End are supposed to represent actual people from the 14th century? Well. I read Pillars of the Earth as something of a lark. For one, I enjoy grandly ambitious, watermelon-sized novels, packed with blood and strife and minutely-detailed, anatomically precise sex scenes. I love excess – all the better to feel lost in a different world. I was also a fan of Follett’s earlier thrillers, which relied on precision plots, tissue thin characters, and yes, lots of sex, to tell crackerjack stories. Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca are marvelously quick reads; meanwhile, the explicit hand-jobs detailed in Night Over Water turned me into a man almost overnight. In that mindset, I was able to enjoy Follett’s foray into the realm of historical fiction, a tenuous place where copious research often rests uneasily with under-drawn characters. I felt that Pillars of the Earth had many problems. It was poorly paced, the dialogue was robotic, the characters were plot-pawns, and anyone paying the least bit of attention knew exactly how every minor and major mystery was going to be resolved. Still, there was enjoyment to be had in the research that Follett crammed into every page, from the composition of the bread, to the building of a cathedral. There was also a great deal of unintentional hilarity, much of it spawning from Follett’s obsession with his characters’ pubic hair. World Without End is a sequel in spirit to that earlier novel. It shares the same town – Kingsbridge – but none of the same characters. Reading one book is not required to understand the other. World Without End also shares many of the faults of Pillars of the Earth. It is, in other words, just as horrible. But for whatever reason – bad mood, fit of pique, utter irrationality – I have decided that I hate World Without End. Oh, it still gave me some laughs, just like the first one; this time, though, I’m not giving it the stars. And yes, I realize that any criticism of World Without End or Ken Follett is like whizzing into the ocean. The man is Teflon-coated and critic-proof; if he ever feels bad about the criticism leveled against him, he has millions of dollars with which to dry his leaking eyes. I certainly don’t bear him any malice. I will continue to read his books. Indeed, I have already started the next book in a proposed trilogy, Fall of Giants. It just needs to be said that this book is awful, in every way a book can be awful. I should say something about the plot: there is no plot. Well, that’s not quite accurate. To be more precise, this book has an Alphabet Plot. This is a phrase I invented to describe a book that resembles – more than anything else – the 300 meter hurdles. It starts with the “A” story, resolves that, moves on to the “B” story, resolves that, moves onto the “C” story, resolves that, and etc, etc. Right up until the last page, Follett sticks to this simple formula: (1) introduce a difficulty for his characters to overcome; (2) have them despair; (3) have them come up with a plan; (4) the plan works!; (5) the characters believe (stupidly, it turns out) that all is right with the world; and (6) a new difficulty arises for the characters to overcome… This pattern is so distinct, so telegraphed, that it doesn’t take you long before you can foresee the problem and the solution before either are introduced by the author. Follett tries to give this shaggy storyline some coherence by creating a bookend mystery to overlay all the other happenings. The novel actually begins with the main characters as children, out playing in the woods. On All Hallows Day, these kids witness a brutal fight that leaves two men dead and one man wounded. The cause and the consequences of this moment “lingers” over all the events of the next 900 pages. And by lingers, I mean that Follett sometimes refers to it. The problem with this framing device is that the initial mystery is not mystifying; that you forget about it almost as soon as it happens; that the payoff comes too late; and that the payoff is underwhelming. Actually, underwhelming is not the right word. The word I’m looking for is nonexistent. Yes, that’s better. The payoff is nonexistent. Thus, you have an essentially plot-less book, with no real through-line, that follows a collection of cardboard cutouts characters from 1327 to 1361. If I were being charitable, I could almost dub this a multi-faceted bildungsroman that follows Follett’s creations from childhood to adulthood. Of course, in the typical bildungsroman, the characters change and grow in some way. In this book, however, the characters are not even human: they are medieval robots who lack personality, charisma, charm, and anything resembling the human spark. The center of Follett’s novel is a young woman named Caris. She is your typical 21st century girl. She is smart, outspoken, ambitious, and wants to become a doctor. In other words, the exact opposite of what she is supposed to be: an English peasant girl. In all seriousness, though, I give Follett a lot of credit in his intent. He isn’t an author to create token female characters. Quite often, he puts women front-and-center in his novels. And these are the type of women we – in the 21st century – want our daughters to be: competent and take-charge; independent; smart; willful; and driven. Far be it for me to mock Follett for this, when so many authors and film directors treat women as adornments. Still, Follett has a serious subtlety problem that undermines everything that Caris is supposed to be. I will take it as a given that Caris, as the heroine of a 1,000 page novel, might be an outlier; that is, atypical from the other Middle Aged peasant stock. But if you are going to get me to accept that conceit, you have to show me that it is deserved. Here, Caris is just a transplant from a different millennium. She defies religious authority, she doesn’t want to get married, she runs her own business, she dabbles in situational-homosexuality, and she discovers the germ theory of medicine (!). It all becomes a bit much, especially since Follett isn’t able to make me believe a single thing. He tells us that Caris is smart, all right, but he isn’t able to show it. For instance, here is a typical bit of dialogue: SILLY PEASANT: I don’t know how to solve this problem. CARIS: It’s simple. You just need to do this obvious thing, this obvious thing, and this obvious thing. SILLY PEASANT: You might be a woman…but you are a genius! ME: No! You’re both idiots! Good luck with the bubonic plague, jackasses. Okay, so I made that up. But you get the point. As you might have guessed, Caris is a Good Guy, as opposed to a Bad Guy. For those of you who appreciate streamlined storytelling, there is no Ambiguous Guy. Caris is in love with Merthin. Merthin is a builder-savant. Even though he has never had any formal training, he knows everything there ever was about architecture. He loves Caris, but is upset because she doesn’t want to get married (“marriage is so 12th century”). The biggest problem with this, the central romantic relationship of the novel, is that Caris and Merthin actually seem to hate each other most of the time. They are just like the couple in NBC’s execrable sitcom Whitney. Despite the fact that they are always fighting, and despite the fact that their worldviews are completely inapposite, we are asked demanded to accept their fairy tale romance. There are several bad guys in this book. Some of them are dispatched quite early; others have to wait for their comeuppance. Spoiler alert: all the bad guys eventually get their comeuppance. If this surprises you, please contact me for some investment opportunities that I am making up as we speak. The chief Black Hat of Ye Old Novel is Ralph. Now, there will certainly be times in World Without End when you will get characters confused. This is because they are all the same; which is to say, they’re all one-dimensional wisps of smoke with names and occupations. To this day, I cannot tell you the difference between Elfric and Wulfric. Ralph is different, though. You will remember Ralph because of this mnemonic device I am giving you now: Rapey Ralph. Ralph, you see, likes to rape. And when he is not raping, he is thinking about rape. Every time Ralph meets another female, Follett digs deep into his psychology to describe precisely the dirty thoughts that Ralph is having. And Ralph is not discerning. When he sees a chubby girl, it turns him on, and when he sees a skinny girl, it turns him on, and when he sees an older woman, it turns him on…and you get the point. In short, the character of Ralph was written by a 13 year-old boy who is approximately fifteen years away from ever talking to a woman. I refuse to call Ralph an avatar of anything, yet he is emblematic of a strong rape fetish that courses through World Without End like poison in the bloodstream. Fetishes turn up a lot in Follett novels. As I mentioned above, Pillars of the Earth was marked by its detailed descriptions of pubic hair, and the way Follett’s characters obsessed over their hirsuteness. This was hilarious for many reasons, but mainly because people in the Middle Ages were engaged in a minute-to-minute struggle not to scratch themselves on the arm and die of a raging infection. I’m guessing that bikini waxing and body-scaping were low on their list of concerns. Here, the fetish is rape, and this is less funny. Rather, it’s not funny at all, except in the way that you laugh when something utterly ridiculous appears before your eyes. Rapey Ralph and his rape-dreams are pretty low. Things get even worse when Gwendolyn, who has “the look of a determined rodent,” is raped by Ralph and begins to enjoy it. Also, this is the second time that Gwendolyn is raped. She also started to enjoy it the first time, before she stabbed the eyeballs out of her attacker. I wish I was making this up. Even if you can ignore the anachronisms, the lack of forward momentum, the rape fantasies, you cannot ignore the dialogue. The hardest part of writing a novel is dialogue; Follett seems to have recognized this, and decided not to try. His characters utter things that an American teenager would loathe to text. Most exchanges are purely expository, and almost all of them include idioms and phrasings that belong solely to our time, and not theirs. Follett couldn’t have better undercut his own research and attempts at verisimilitude if he’d tried. (And maybe he did try. Maybe this awful dialogue was part of a bet with his publisher. “Hey, I bet you that even if I write this s—t, I’ll still sell millions of books.” If so, he won that bet). So yes, the dialogue sucks. Like I said, though, dialogue is hard. What about the prose? Well, the prose is… Let’s just say that if you played a drinking game in which you took a shot every time you read a cliché – “she burst into tears,” for instance – you should definitely expect to vomit the next day. During the course of this disaster, Follett attempts to weave a couple big historical events into the mix. He has to, because this time around, there is no cathedral to build. The two marquee happenings are the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death. Of the two, neither are effectively utilized. The scenes of the Hundred Years’ War, set in France and featuring Rapey Ralph and the battle of Crecy, are historically accurate but hopelessly dull. I’m not sure why, but Follett seems incapable of epic-style storytelling. He does (relatively) well when he sticks to his central location of Kingsbridge. When he starts expanding the scope of his tale, however, he loses his sure-handed grasp of the material. The scenes set in France are inert and stage-bound. Even though he is an author, with no limits save his imagination, he writes his battle scenes as though he was on a budget. Follett is only marginally more successful with his usage of the Black Death. Admittedly, when the Plague first appears, it does so effectively, driving the plot in the required direction. After awhile, though, it becomes a deus ex machina: whenever Follett needs someone killed off, the Plague returns. Around page 800, I was actively hoping for the Black Death to finish off every last person, just so I could toss this book off a moving train and start fresh. I want to be clear that I do not hate this book. Hate is a strong word, and World Without End does not have the requisite content to create any real emotion. I bought this copy used for 1 cent, plus 4 dollars shipping. No one forced me to read it. I put it on my exercise bike and read 50 to 70 pages every time I worked out. It cost me $4.01 and helped me lose a couple pounds. Still, it’s a piece of crap. The true and actual reason I started reading Pillars of the Earth and World Without End is simple: I had just finished George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons and I needed a swords-and-sex fix to tide me over for the next decade, when Martin’s next novel may (or may not) be released. In comparing Martin to Follett, I discovered a certain irony. Follett has devoted an enormous amount of time and effort into making his novels historically accurate. He has strived (and succeeded, largely) in getting all the small details right. You can read his novels and learn a lot about the Middle Ages – the feudal system, the way clothing was dyed, the way a bridge was constructed. Martin’s books, on the other hand, exist in a land of his own creation. There are fire-breathing dragons, the Red God, decades-long winters, and White Walkers who implacably roam the Earth. Martin’s novels are fantasies; they take place in a land that never existed. Yet, everything about Martin’s Westeros feels real. And everything about Follett’s England feels artificial.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Well, Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books and I was looking forward to completely enjoying this without reservation. But way back when it first came out, I stumbled onto an online discussion that cited a passage with anachronistic vocabulary, which bothered me. It was very anachronistic. So it was a single passage, but it added some reservation to my anticipated complete enjoyment. And then I got to page 15, and there's this conversation that no two people would ever have under any Well, Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books and I was looking forward to completely enjoying this without reservation. But way back when it first came out, I stumbled onto an online discussion that cited a passage with anachronistic vocabulary, which bothered me. It was very anachronistic. So it was a single passage, but it added some reservation to my anticipated complete enjoyment. And then I got to page 15, and there's this conversation that no two people would ever have under any circumstances that served only for the author to show off some detail about the time period. That doesn't bode well, at least not on top of sloppy word choice. Finally, there's a character in this book that might as well be a character from Pillars, which makes me worry that other character types will be recycled. PLUS there's a major plot point hinged on the kind of intrigue that drove the motivations of some characters in Pillars--derivative! derivative! So I have four things in my conscience mind to have to suppress as I am reading. Fortunately, I have been able to do so, at least through the first part of the book. I am sad that people who are sort of shabby and bumbling are the descendants of people who were just fantastic in Pillars, but I accept that family fortunes rise and fall. I think it will color my feelings about those Pillars characters next time I read the book, but not necessarily my feelings about the book. UPDATE APRIL 5: Uh-oh. I had really hoped the Great Mumbo Jumbo Kerfuffle of Aught-Seven was an anomaly, but I just encountered the word "sexy" in a character's thoughts and I'm not even at page 100 yet. Is two a pattern? UPDATE April 12: The book tanks. It becomes extraordinarily boring around the plague and then it just doesn't pick up again. The second half of the book is like a checklist of all the social changes that the plague triggers. The characters turn into mirror images of the characters in Pillars, and some of them in that book were a little silly. The final scene between Gwenda and Annet is just goofy; there is a rebellious teenage girl running around with a bad crowd; I skimmed the last 200 pages while fooling around in a chat room. I will forget I have read this book. I was sad for a while to see what became of Jack and Aliena's descendants, but it doesn't matter. The book is inconsequential. Also lesbian nun sex.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Orient

    Oh, what a long read it was, but no regrets - the book is really good. I was fascinated reading The Pillars of the Earth and "World Without End" enchanted me from the first pages. „World Without End“ is considered the sequel to „Pillars of the Earth“, though none of the original characters reappear. However the descendants of the main family in “Pillars of the Earth” gather to tell the new story about Kingsbridge and the people tied to it. Beginning two centuries after "The Pillars of the Earth" Oh, what a long read it was, but no regrets - the book is really good. I was fascinated reading The Pillars of the Earth and "World Without End" enchanted me from the first pages. „World Without End“ is considered the sequel to „Pillars of the Earth“, though none of the original characters reappear. However the descendants of the main family in “Pillars of the Earth” gather to tell the new story about Kingsbridge and the people tied to it. Beginning two centuries after "The Pillars of the Earth" in the same town, this book has a lot of interesting characters and combines three decades of love, action, treason, history, corruption, difficult and adventurous life. The characters are so lively and real. This book marks the new era to Kingsbridge, the era of new ideas about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. Though the technical things slowed me a little bit. Also I found some repetition (comparing the first and the second books) which reduced my fangirlism in some way, like: two brothers- one good and one bad. The good one is a great builder, not a great fighter, he has difficulties to reach the popularity, but after some time abroad he becomes skilled and famous. The bad one gets a bad end of course. The life long love of the main character suffers some hardship and creates something new in business. There was much suffering, cruelty and injustice in the story so I couldn’t help but hope that at some point it must get better for the good and worse for the bad ones - this is after all a novel. I liked that the story line had so much unpredictable things. The author skillfully combines the important far off catastrophes into his book, like the Great Famine, the Peasant's Revolt, the Black Death and Hundred Years War. The lives and the towns are changed forever. This book is not a history lesson about the fourteenth century, but a complex story about lives of ordinary people - their loves and losses, ups and downs, despair and suffering. It's a touching and cruel book, but the fourteenth century was a strange, cruel and dark time. And when I reached the last page, I knew that this is one of those books which I'll remember for a long time. I was spellbound by Mr. Follett‘s powerful vision of life in the Middle Ages. It is one more fascinating, mesmerizing and gripping book for me. I tried to watch the TV-series "World Without End", but for me it was a real meh and even a badly made interpretation of the book. Though I really liked “Pillars of the Earth” screen adaptation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    ChopinFC

    Follet conjures up another masterpiece with World Without End, as he achieves near-nirvana by writing a spellbinding story that is captivating from page 1 until 1000! I was just a lonely lad, ignorant to the brilliance of Ken Follett until my father suggested I read Pillars of the Earth. My world just about shattered!! ‘Pillars’ is easily one of my top 5 fav books of all times! In ‘Pillars’, we see Follett’s genius shine on: the story is so captivating, with strong willed characters and narrati Follet conjures up another masterpiece with World Without End, as he achieves near-nirvana by writing a spellbinding story that is captivating from page 1 until 1000! I was just a lonely lad, ignorant to the brilliance of Ken Follett until my father suggested I read Pillars of the Earth. My world just about shattered!! ‘Pillars’ is easily one of my top 5 fav books of all times! In ‘Pillars’, we see Follett’s genius shine on: the story is so captivating, with strong willed characters and narrative that was so unique yet so simple, that I instantly fell in love! Starting this sophomore’ series World Without End, gave me some butterflies due to such high expectation and the hope of another home-run. After reading it, the verdict was unanimous: World Without End is an absolute masterclass in storytelling, character development, imagination and a tale of the unbound human spirit! Ultimately World Without End is at its bare essence a story of love. Follett revisits the city of ‘Kingsbridge’ about 200 years after we last encountered it at ‘Pillars’. As much as Pillars was a well-crafted story about the ‘building of a cathedral’ and the creation of the city as a religious powerhouse, World Without End encompasses a more global tone involving accurate historical events of the epoch and surrounding Europe. There’s not much Follett is unwilling to touch, as vast range topics of greed, monastic abuse, love, war and death are widely seen in the writing. Kingsbridge Follet’s writing style is direct and unadorned, leading to a brilliant and powerful way to convey human emotions! The simplicity of Follett’s narrative is possibly his most unique and powerful attribute. His prose is quite effective, his characterization is absolutely incredible! When he creates an evil character, we as readers develop almost a ‘visceral’ reaction to them!! A perfect example is the most evil character called ‘Ralph’! Follett goes to the extremes to depict this evil, unscrupulous character that will do almost anything to fulfill his aspirations of power and nobility. In fact, Ralph does not shy away from raping innocent females, killing woman and children and lying incessantly to ascend in the hierarchical food chain! Truthfully, I fucking hated Ralph and cringed everytime he got away with murder! This reaction is exactly what Follett achieves with the power of his words. -“ Ralph.. had killed many people, women as well as men..he had killed nuns in France..he hesitated, but suddenly it seemed terrible to stick a knife into the warm body of someone he had embraced and slept with, the woman who had borne his child” The story in World Without End is very expansive, and spans decades, and we concentrate on a handful of unique and vastly entertaining characters. Again, heavy focus is geared towards monastic life and the ‘priory’ of monks, with the added difference of a ‘nunnery’ that is added to Kingsbridge. Remarkable and unforgettable characters include the wildly egocentric and power hungry ‘prior’ of Kingsbridge Godwyn, the powerful ‘earl of the Shiring’, the head nun Mother Cecilia and many others. But without exception, the full narrative places Merthin a young ‘builder’ his love interest, Caris at the core of the tale. Follett spins his ‘webs’ masterfully as he tells the love story of both Merthin and Caris, and how their lives seem to congeal and split apart. We take third POV when following Merthin and Caris, as their story feels organic at every corner. Caris & Merthin The last worthy point of reference is how Follett incorporates real historical facts to augment the narrative and make the story so interesting. At the peak of 14th century Europe, the ‘bulbonic plague’ ravaged most of the continent. In fact, Europe experienced the most deadly disease outbreak in history when the Black Death hit in 1347, killing a third of the human population! Follett uses this accurate historical event, as it shapes the lives of most resident of Kingsbridge, and ultimately affects every character in the book. The results are astounding and downright terrifying. 'Black Plague World Without End is another epic slam dunk in the the saga of the ‘Kingsbridge’ series. Follett creates another masterpiece that is wildly accurate to the historical time, as he tells a tale that is fascinating, with memorable characters! 5 Stars

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The Pillars of the Earth was pretty good, but WWE is supposed to be a sequel... However, WWE seems to be a 1000 page snorefest after the first book. Perhaps if I had read them 18 years apart... then I would not have minded that WWE is a plagiarized (by the same author) copy of TPOTE. They have the same plot, same polar characters (no one is reasonable, they are all so totally overboard in every description), same activities, same cads, same villians, same love story... Same everything... But the The Pillars of the Earth was pretty good, but WWE is supposed to be a sequel... However, WWE seems to be a 1000 page snorefest after the first book. Perhaps if I had read them 18 years apart... then I would not have minded that WWE is a plagiarized (by the same author) copy of TPOTE. They have the same plot, same polar characters (no one is reasonable, they are all so totally overboard in every description), same activities, same cads, same villians, same love story... Same everything... But the characters all have new names. So, if you decide to read them... Skip 18 years before reading the sequel, which takes place in the same town as TPOTE 200 years later. If you wait 18 years, the book might seem fresh instead of boring, annoying, unoriginal and tedious. I kept wanting people to die just so I would not have to read another word about them. If I did not have this incessant need to complete books, I would have just thrown it on the floor and never picked it up again. It makes me annoyed every time I pick it up.. sad but true. my hint: Read Pillars of the Earth, take a LONG break and then, if you feel a desperate need... think about it, and if you can find the book for cheap, maybe... perhaps... read it if you have absolutely nothing better to do.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Choko

    *** 3.75 *** "...“You see, all that I ever held dear has been taken from me," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "And when you've lost everything-" Her facade began to crumble, and her voice broke, but she made herself carry on. "When you've lost everything, you've got nothing to lose.”..." This is the truth about this book, similar issues I had with "The Pillars of the Earth" - Ken Follet piles up small, every day problems that were typical for all in Medieval Europe, and adds to them more an *** 3.75 *** "...“You see, all that I ever held dear has been taken from me," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "And when you've lost everything-" Her facade began to crumble, and her voice broke, but she made herself carry on. "When you've lost everything, you've got nothing to lose.”..." This is the truth about this book, similar issues I had with "The Pillars of the Earth" - Ken Follet piles up small, every day problems that were typical for all in Medieval Europe, and adds to them more and more and more problems, big and small, until he not only ruins the spirit of the characters in the book, but succeeds very well in destroying any optimism or hope the reader might have kindled for them.... I was so depressed while reading book one, I had to take a month in between, so I can get my Happy back. I feel like this book is even more devastating emotionally to me than the previous one. You might say, but of course, in the first book there was no Plague, while here it is very prominent and we all know that more than half of Europe's population was wiped out by the merciless infection, bringing devastation on a scale we can't even imagine today. But this is not the only reason this whole tome had a solid core of depression to it. It is the thick fog of misfortune and crap everyone with some measure of decency had to thread through on every page, while those with darkness in their hearts kept on prospering and rejoicing with every evil deed perpetuated on the weak and unfortunate. Follet does that with no respite for the entirety of the book. Just when you think something might happen that would make all the struggles of our characters worth it, they still have to pay a heavy price for it and the feeling of hopeless helplessness that emotes from the page infuses into the reader until you wear it as a second skin... At one point I became well trained - the author gives us struggle toward something, we have hope and even a good result, only to follow it up with something to put us back in our place, cowering in fear and despair back into the dark and dusty corner of a surfs' latrine. "...“My father hated people who preached about morality. We're all good when it suits us, he used to say: that doesn't count. It's when you want so badly to do something wrong - when you're about to make a fortune from a dishonest deal, or kiss the lovely lips of your neighbor's wife, or tell a lie to get yourself out of terrible trouble - that's when you need the rules. Your integrity is like a sword, he would say: you shouldn’t wave it until you’re about to put it to the test.”..." I was angry throughout most of the book. Don't get me wrong. It was not anger because the writing was terrible or the storytelling inadequate. The opposite. I was riveted to the story and even did not sleep last night so I could finish it up today. The author has done his research into the time period perfectly and the story is more than realistic, it is down right depressingly so. I know that what my 21st century heart truly rebels against is the historical truth of how one people, who happened to have been born to a class of privilege and influence, exerted their power over other people, who happen to be born in a circumstance that makes them into almost a property of the other, stripping them from everything we believe to be a human right, all the way down to the smallest choices over their livelihood and personhood... My free-loving spirit wanted to spit in the faces of the "Lords" and "Nobility" and kick them in the balls, show the bullies that we will not let them bully us or anyone else, but I had to let the author lead me through his story and hope he would take us to a place where we would have some literary vengeance and a pay-off for all the hopeless emotions he put us through... "...“Don’t worry. We who are born poor have to use cunning to get what we want. Scruples are for the privileged.”..." We have several main players in this tale of mid-1300's Kingsbridge, two centuries after the story of Tom Builder, Jack, Aliena, and Prior Phillip. Kingsbridge Priory is well established and the town is prosperous. There are many descendants of Jack and Aliena Fitzgerald, and they are representatives of all the social classes of the time. Our main protagonist Merthin and his brother, the heartless monster of the age, Ralph, are just two of those coming from the branch of the Earls, but long ago fallen into poverty and as kids, circumstances make them and their parents dependents of the Priory. Ralph, being a big boy and physically fit, is given into the care of the current Earl as a squire, while Merthin, having not been blessed with great physique, goes as an unpaid apprentice to a carpenter-builder. He falls for the daughter of a prosperous wool merchant, and the rest is history. Caris meets Merthin, Ralph, Gwenda and her brother Philemon while playing in church as kids and their lives change for ever when they encounter a fleeing knight, wounded in the forest. From that day on their faiths are intertwined in intrigue, power-struggles, murder, secrets and a never-ending personal loves and hatreds, which shape their actions and their personalities on the long run. Although there are some redemption for some of the main characters, the overall hardships they go through are demoralizing. No wonder people thought of themselves as old at the age of 40 and ancient if they were able to reach fifty years old. Caris was strong and independent of spirit, but she also came from a place where she had been given a sense of self-worth since she was born. Merthin and Ralph were raised to think of themselves as better than the rest, despite their impoverished state, but Gwenda and Philemon came from the lowest of the low and their parents only made them feel and be even lower than that. My heart broke for both of them when we first met them. As much as I loved and respected Caris, despite her acting ridiculously irrational at times, Gwenda was the one whose story I couldn't get enough of. I hurt for her, I loved for her, I was angry and disappointed by her, I wanted to shake her and and hug her alternatively, and I wept with her, but I was just as taken by her perseverance and strength, both in body and mind, which made her survive in this miserable time with so little going for her. She was so flawed, so real, that it hurt. And I loved reading about her, every single word. "...“When you were trying to enforce law and order, it was difficult to explain that the rules did not actually apply to you personally.”..." So, despite this book depressing the hell out of me for most of the 1014 pages, I am still glad I was able to read and had the patience to actually finish it, because there were misfortunes and side story-lines, which I felt were there just to pile on the misery and not to add anything to the overall plot arc, which made me furious for being there and I was tempted to just lose the book somewhere before I destroy it in futile rage. I would still recommend it to those who loved the first installment in the series and those who love a realistic but slow portrayal of 14th century Europe in the mids of the Black Plague. "...“You didn’t ask for a priest.” “Whether I’ve been good or bad, I don’t think God will be fooled by a last-minute change of heart.” ..." Now I wish you all Happy Reading and my you always find what you Need in the pages of a good book!!!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nikoleta

    Σε αυτό το βιβλίο ο Follett δημιουργεί ακριβώς με την ίδια συνταγή με την οποία δημιούργησε το πρώτο βιβλίο "Οι Στυλοβάτες της Γης". Ακολουθεί την πορεία μιας παρέας ατόμων για πολλά χρόνια, πάντα στο Κινγκσμπριτζ της Αγγλίας. Συνήθως ο κεντρικός ήρωας είναι δημιουργός (στο πρώτο χτίστης εδώ ξυλουργός) και η κεντρική ηρωίδα τσαούσα. Ο δημιουργός αναλαμβάνει ένα μεγάλο έργο για την πόλη και αυτό δημιουργείτε πάντα υπό το βλέμμα του μοναστηριού του Κινγκσμπριτζ. Ενώ για διάφορους λόγους ο έρωτας τ Σε αυτό το βιβλίο ο Follett δημιουργεί ακριβώς με την ίδια συνταγή με την οποία δημιούργησε το πρώτο βιβλίο "Οι Στυλοβάτες της Γης". Ακολουθεί την πορεία μιας παρέας ατόμων για πολλά χρόνια, πάντα στο Κινγκσμπριτζ της Αγγλίας. Συνήθως ο κεντρικός ήρωας είναι δημιουργός (στο πρώτο χτίστης εδώ ξυλουργός) και η κεντρική ηρωίδα τσαούσα. Ο δημιουργός αναλαμβάνει ένα μεγάλο έργο για την πόλη και αυτό δημιουργείτε πάντα υπό το βλέμμα του μοναστηριού του Κινγκσμπριτζ. Ενώ για διάφορους λόγους ο έρωτας της τσαούσας και του δημιουργού έχει μεγάλα εμπόδια. Παράλληλα γινόμαστε μάρτυρες διάφορων μεγάλων ιστορικών γεγονότων της εποχής (αγαπώ)!!!Η συνταγή όμως έχει κ πολλές παραλλαγές στο δεύτερο βιβλίο. Οι ήρωες είναι περισσότεροι, τους ακολουθούμε από πιτσιρίκια, και ο καθένας έχει την ιστορία του. Νομίζω ότι προτιμούσα σε αυτό το σημείο το πρώτο βιβλίο γιατί εκεί είχαμε τους γονείς αρχικά (τον Μπιλντερ κυρίως) και τον Φιλιπ (δηλαδή παρακολουθούσαμε δύο ιστορίες)και μετά τον γιο του Μπιλντερ, που έγινε ο κεντρικός ήρωας κ την Αλιενα, που ήταν κεντρική ηρωίδα και φυσικά τον Φιλιπ, που σε όλες τις φάσεις, όλα αυτά τα χρόνια δρούσε σαν φύλακας άγγελος στις ζωές τους. Έτσι η πλοκή ήταν συμμαζεμένη και οι ιστορίες συγκεκριμένες. Ενώ σε αυτό το βιβλίο έχουμε παράλληλες ιστοριουλες, αποσπάσματα ζωών πολλών ηρώων, με περιπετειουλες που ανοίγουν και κλείνουν ταχύτατα. Φυσικά είναι κ το θέμα του μυστηρίου, στο πρώτο είχαμε μια μυστηριώδη κατάρα κ εδώ ένα μυστηριώδες γράμμα. Σαφέστατα κερδίζει η πρώτη ιστορία, καθώς στο δεύτερο βιβλίο μέχρι το τέλος του, που μας φανερώνεται η αλήθεια, το μυστήριο έχει πλέον ξεφουσκώσει, καθώς δεν είχε ασχοληθεί κ καθόλου σε όλο το βιβλίο. Είναι όμως και αυτό βιβλιάρα, που παρά τον όγκο του διαβάζεται ταχύτατα και -όσον αφορά εμένα πάντως- ακούραστα. Το προτείνω στους λάτρεις του μεσαιωνικού ιστορικού μυθιστορήματος, και όχι μόνο. Είναι κυρίως για αυτούς που δεν φοβούνται τα βιβλία τούβλα!!! 4,5/5 αστεράκια.

  19. 4 out of 5

    PennyiSD

    One of my book clubs selected this as we had all read and loved Pillars of the Earth when it came out 20 years ago. I got halfway through this tome and decided I didn't want to waste another moment of my life on a book which failed on so many counts. The characters didn't seem real and certainly didn't elicit any sympathy from this reader as they moved from one contrived crisis to the next, the writing was repetitive and juvenile (a gifted high school student could write better), the language wa One of my book clubs selected this as we had all read and loved Pillars of the Earth when it came out 20 years ago. I got halfway through this tome and decided I didn't want to waste another moment of my life on a book which failed on so many counts. The characters didn't seem real and certainly didn't elicit any sympathy from this reader as they moved from one contrived crisis to the next, the writing was repetitive and juvenile (a gifted high school student could write better), the language was too modern for the time period ("shagged" didn't come into use - at least in print - until late 18th C.) and sex was vulgar and gratuitous. If you want to read really well written and very well researched historical fiction try Dorothy Dunnett or Diane Gabaldon.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary Catherine

    This is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth." It's set 200 years after that original book but is very similar in terms of plot and especially character. Every main character from "Pillars" has their parallel in this book: the intelligent, noble builder; the feisty, born-before-her-time love interest; the evil, corrupt nobleman who rapes and pillages his way into power. It gets to the point where you start to wonder why you're bothering reading it. There's absolutely nothing new here. Like "Pillar This is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth." It's set 200 years after that original book but is very similar in terms of plot and especially character. Every main character from "Pillars" has their parallel in this book: the intelligent, noble builder; the feisty, born-before-her-time love interest; the evil, corrupt nobleman who rapes and pillages his way into power. It gets to the point where you start to wonder why you're bothering reading it. There's absolutely nothing new here. Like "Pillars," this one starts with a "mystery" that goes nowhere. When the big revelation comes, I was left thinking, "That's it?" I enjoyed the parts about the Plague but could have done without the lesbian nuns and the numerous rape scenes (especially the scenes where the woman being raped starts to enjoy it. Talk about offensive!). And once again, an aggressive editor would have done wonders. 1,000 pages is just a bit much, especially when the entire thing is a retread of the original anyway.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mom

    I cannot find the words to express how disappointed I was with this book. Having enjoyed "Pillars of the Earth" twice I awaited the issue of the sequel with immense enthusiasm. What a letdown! The characters, the plot,the writing are all dreadful...Mr Follett has tried to bring the 13th century into the 21st and it hasn't worked. The gratuitous sex and foul language spoil the book from the first chapter and for the first time in years, I will not be finishing this novel! Very sad to see a good au I cannot find the words to express how disappointed I was with this book. Having enjoyed "Pillars of the Earth" twice I awaited the issue of the sequel with immense enthusiasm. What a letdown! The characters, the plot,the writing are all dreadful...Mr Follett has tried to bring the 13th century into the 21st and it hasn't worked. The gratuitous sex and foul language spoil the book from the first chapter and for the first time in years, I will not be finishing this novel! Very sad to see a good author with good ideas go down the path of populism.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Scott Hitchcock

    Book 1: 3* Book 2: 3.5* I had heard the rest of the series wasn't as good as book one so I was pleasantly surprised. The book started out much like a carbon copy of its predecessor. It is era two and there are a lot of parallels between many of the characters and the plot. However this one was much darker and the author put more empathy into his character. There were still some head scratching actions of different characters that seems completely out of character for this time period. There were a Book 1: 3* Book 2: 3.5* I had heard the rest of the series wasn't as good as book one so I was pleasantly surprised. The book started out much like a carbon copy of its predecessor. It is era two and there are a lot of parallels between many of the characters and the plot. However this one was much darker and the author put more empathy into his character. There were still some head scratching actions of different characters that seems completely out of character for this time period. There were also some reactions I couldn't buy into or responses where I thought nobody says that there. Overall though a very good second effort and I'll finish the series off.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Second Ken Follett, second Ken Follett audiobook, second Ken Follett audiobook listened to in car, first time I have ever wished to be caught in a really humungous traffic jam. This was an enthralling sort of sequel to the The Pillars of the Earth . I say sort of because it is set some 200 years after the end of that wondrous story. Just as the previous novel looked at the building of the Cathedral and the growth of the fictional city of Kingsbridge* through the disastrous 19 year reign of King Second Ken Follett, second Ken Follett audiobook, second Ken Follett audiobook listened to in car, first time I have ever wished to be caught in a really humungous traffic jam. This was an enthralling sort of sequel to the The Pillars of the Earth . I say sort of because it is set some 200 years after the end of that wondrous story. Just as the previous novel looked at the building of the Cathedral and the growth of the fictional city of Kingsbridge* through the disastrous 19 year reign of King Stephen and beyond, this novel covers the forty years or so of the middle part of the 14th Century embracing most especially the horrendous catastrophe of the Bubonic Plague's arrival in Europe in which perhaps a third or more of Europe died a horrible death. The story centres around the lives of four young children who witness the killing of two men at arms who themselves had come to kill the young knight who turned the tables on them. From those deaths unfurl the long, long journey of the story which cleverly comes full circle right at the end of this huge work. A mysterious letter, buried by this young man, is pivotal to the story and, though it does not reappear fully until the end, punctuates the plot's every twist and turn like a hinted shadow or a glimpsed figure of menace. The four children grow from pre-adolescent exploring and friendship to middle age and all the accrued experiences. Caris, a young rich girl who is beautiful as well as wealthy but who is a natural leader, strikingly independant in thought, vision and action and is, if I may be so bold, a tad anachronistic. This does seem to be a theme for Follett. Certainly in the two novels which I have read and loved, the main female character is brilliant and strong and intelligent and insightful and therefore, whether people like it or not, not a very accurate outline of how a woman would have been able to be in the 14th Century. We might 100% agree with everything she says and does, or at least a good deal of it, but she speaks and reacts and behaves as a woman might well speak and react and behave in 2012 but most certainly not how she would in 1312. She is a great character but not of her time. Then we have Merthin, the great love of her life. Of lower gentry fallen on hard times. Should be of rich stock but incompetence by his father results in a lower standing. He becomes an Architect and Trailblazer and courageous man of honour and decency. Another visionary. His brother, Ralph, an unbelievably squalid shit. Cruel and vengeful and vicious and murderous and irredeemably awful and then we have Gwenda. She is the token peasant not quite the tart with the heart but every soap opera has to have the poor girl whose role is to be the best friend of the rich girl thus enabling aforesaid rich girl to take on another mantel, that of democratic liberal. This is to belittle Gwenda really as she is a brilliantly drawn and brave character and her struggles serve to mark momentous moments in the story and the ebb and flow of her life is one which really holds the reader's sympathy. Re-reading this it might sound as if i did not like the book. I did. It is excellent. A fantastically exciting story, enormously expansive in its canvas and has enough willthey/won't they moments and gasp-i-can't-believe-he/she/they/said/did/achieved that opportunities for plot development that you are swept along. However this volume, more than the first one I think, is a total Middle Ages Soap opera. I am not sneering at that; it is ridiculously addictive, hence my desire for a big traffic jam but this time the historical awkwardness jarred more. The language used, the opinions expressed...always by Caris and Merthin and sometimes by others of their allies....were not believable for people of the 14th century. Their middle class sensitivities and liberal attitudes are wonderful for middle class and liberal people living and working and falling in love in the 21st Century but though Caris may well have struggled with all sorts of things I felt she was struggling as would a 21st century women transferred by magic back to the 14th century. Her struggles were of a woman going to bed in 2012 Surrey and waking up in 1348, the Bobby Ewing shower scene in reverse. Follett again keeps 'plates' spinning brilliantly and draws characters with sharp lines so that you do not need to think much but know exactly who you are to boo and who you are to cheer. There was an oddly convenient use of the Black Death where his scythe seemed always to cut down the right people to ease the plot along and enable the main characters to progress. Only one central character died of it and indeed that was massively convenient and came at just the right time. Once again i am not criticizing for the sake of it but it does reinforce the idea of Soap Opera. In Emmerdale or 'Corrie' we will have a plane crash or a train pile up. In the pre-machine, pre-Industrial age of Medieaval Kingsbridge we will use the mightily convenient pandemic making sure only minor characters or certainly those whose usefulness to the plot is past or maybe they want to move on to do a season in Pantomime at Blackpool for the Christmas season. Anyway they will be the ones who 'buy it'. Things i found briliant were the ways Follett easily explains the development of social structures and the growth of industry and the discovery of different ways of weaving or dyeing or construction. I felt I was learning as i read without even realizing it. The development of surnames and titles and the beginnings of the loosening of the serf structure was fascinating. The political and ecclesiastical battles were cleverly hinted at. The hopelessness of the poor before the tyranny of the powerful was well expressed and the stagnating grip of the status quo was well illustrated. I felt myself groan with frustration along with Caris and Merthin even as I knew this was another anachronism. By this stage i didn't care. That is the power of Mr Follett, I recognize that he is manipulating and twisting reality to suit his story and characters but he did it so well that i was totally Team Caris. Each time Ralph did something monstrous, each time Godwin was an underhand shite, every time Philemon...who obviously smelt, Follett did not spell this out but i knew this had to be......just breathed I let all these occasions collect in my memory knowing they would surely all be avenged in some way shape or form. Well, all i will say is......I was not massively disappointed....Follett does a good plate of comeuppance and here he parts company with Soap opera cos he, quite evidently, believes in happy endings. *though I would point out that for threee years I lived just 10 miles from the small town called Kingsbridge which nestles in the beautiful area of the South Hams in Devon

  24. 4 out of 5

    Miquel Reina

    When I had in my hands “World without end” I had a mixture of excitement and fear, I will explain it. For me the Pillars of the Earth was and is one of my favourite books, I could say that is within my Top 5 favourite books, so when I first took “World without end” I had a great desire to know what Ken Follett wrote but also I was afraid that comparing to its precursor novel could disappoint me. I was wrong. “World without end” is an extraordinary book, and now I have to say that it competes wit When I had in my hands “World without end” I had a mixture of excitement and fear, I will explain it. For me the Pillars of the Earth was and is one of my favourite books, I could say that is within my Top 5 favourite books, so when I first took “World without end” I had a great desire to know what Ken Follett wrote but also I was afraid that comparing to its precursor novel could disappoint me. I was wrong. “World without end” is an extraordinary book, and now I have to say that it competes with the position of the Pillars. In this second book, Follet makes a big temporary jump and presents a more evolved society with a fascinating female as its main character. I think the female character gives to the story a new point of view, a richness and completely new way of facing the problems of that time. I obviously recommend this novel to all readers of The Pillars of the Earth and I encourage to read these two epic stories to the rest who haven’t done it yet because it’s a story that you will remember for the rest of your life. Spanish version: Cuando tuve en mis manos "Un mundo sin Fin" senti una mezcla de emoción y de miedo, me explicaré. Para mí los Pilares de la Tierra es uno de mis libros favoritos, podría decir que está dentro de mis Top 5 libros favoritos, así que al coger el libro tenía unas ganas enormes por saber en qué historia me sumergiría Ken Follet como continuación pero a la vez tenía miedo que comparándolo con su precursora me decepcionara. Pero mis dudas fueron infundadas. Un mundo sin fin es un libro extraordinario, y ahora tengo que decir que compite con el puesto de Los Pilares. En este segundo libro Follet nos hace da un salto temporal y nos presenta una sociedad más evolucionada y con un interesante personaje protagonista femenino. Y es aquí donde creo que Follet dio en el clavo, creo que el cambio de sexo en su protagonista es lo que le da una riqueza y una manera de enfrentarse a los problemas totalmente nueva que sus personajes masculinos. Evidentemente recomiendo esta fantástica novela a todos los lectores de Los Pilares de la Tierra y de Ken Follet y animo a quién no lo haya hecho aún a leer estas dos épicas historias que de bien seguro os dejarán marcados para siempre.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Antonio

    Follett es un misterio para mí, no sé cómo lo hace, como escribiendo libros de más de mil páginas, te mantiene interesado en todo momento y no te aburre, me agradan los libros largos, pero casi siempre me pasa que cuando estoy en una lectura extensa, de un momento a otro siento que me están metiendo relleno (muy al estilo de Naruto) y que el editor pudo haber hecho mejor su trabajo, pero me estoy yendo por las ramas, a lo nuestro. Kingsbridge, han pasado dos siglos desde los eventos de Los Pilar Follett es un misterio para mí, no sé cómo lo hace, como escribiendo libros de más de mil páginas, te mantiene interesado en todo momento y no te aburre, me agradan los libros largos, pero casi siempre me pasa que cuando estoy en una lectura extensa, de un momento a otro siento que me están metiendo relleno (muy al estilo de Naruto) y que el editor pudo haber hecho mejor su trabajo, pero me estoy yendo por las ramas, a lo nuestro. Kingsbridge, han pasado dos siglos desde los eventos de Los Pilares de la Tierra, y si usted creía que a esta gente no les podían pasar más calamidades, ha subestimado, como yo, la inventiva (bastante realista) de un autor malévolo como Follett. Usted es diabólico señor Follett Hay dos formas de juzgar este libro, se lo puede hacer como un libro independiente o se lo puede comparar con Los pilares de la tierra. Es cierto que tiene muchas similitudes, aunque con cambios serios. Hay mucha construcción, Puentes, Torres, Hospitales…, Personajes tan bien hechos, que parece que se pudieran palpar, realistas y muy humanos, una historia de amor imposible, luchas de poder, mucho drama y algo de comedia. Ame desde el principio a Merthin y a Caris , y como los shippeaba xD, me encanto la genialidad y la personalidad de Merthin (y lo apoye en todo momento), y que decir de Caris, también, me encanto, su inteligencia, su sentido del deber, su lucha personal en su mundo tan machista, aunque en muchos momentos no la entendía, y quería meterme en el libro, zarandearla y decirle -¿qué más quieres mujer?- Aunque por otro lado cuando ponía en su lugar a los monjes (idiotas y machistas en su mayoría) quería decirle ¡bien hecho! Definitivamente ella es una de los mejores personajes femeninos de los que he tenido oportunidad de leer, y el hecho de que, como ya dije, en varias ocasiones no podía entenderle, solo la hace más realista. Hay también otros personajes, como Gwenda , astuta como ella sola, aunque quizás sea la que pase por más penurias, Ralph el hermano de Merthin, que, en un mundo donde la mayoría de los personajes son grises (ni buenos, ni malos) él está más cerca al negro, Godwyn y Philemon , como odie a estos desgraciados, uno representa la codicia del poder y el otro la pura mezquindad, y lo peor ambos se refugian en la iglesia, y son del pensar que todas sus acciones son buenas, no me molesta admitir que quería que se murieran, (view spoiler)[cuando le hacen el juicio a Caris por bruja, mi odio fue tan grande, que si les hubiera caído un rayo en ese momento, fulminándolos inmediatamente, hubiera dicho que era perfectamente lógico y compatible con la trama. (hide spoiler)] Hay muchos personajes y todos muy bien desarrollados, no los puedo detallar a todos porque la reseña sería interminable, pero mencionare a dos más, que aunque no son personas, se sienten en la trama casi todo el tiempo, la iglesia y la peste. En cuanto a la iglesia, no es un personaje nuevo para Follett, ya que en Los Pilares de la tierra ya era central en la trama, ahora sigue siendo central, pero se han pulido su bordes, ya no es tan perfecta como la conocimos antes, con todo parece más humana, seguimos teniendo juegos de poder con estrategias alucinantes, pero también vemos las relaciones personales que hay en el clero, amistad y a veces más que amistad, vemos como la bondad, inteligencia y ganas de modernizar se contraponen a los viejos hábitos, la mezquindad, y la supersticiones. Y por último la peste, les dije que Follett era malévolo, que peor desgracia que esta, la gran muerte, la perdición. ¡Órale! Esta reseña me salió más larga de lo que pensaba, pero el libro es largo, se lo merece. Definitivamente lo recomiendo, ya sea si no conoces Los Pilares de la tierra o si eres fan, es una historia maravillosa, años pasan dentro del libro, pero a ti se te hará corto y quedaras con ganas de más.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Let me preface this review by saying that I loved Pillars of the Earth. A lot. I thought it was almost perfect, in fact, except for one minor issue that I had with the dialogue sounding too modern for the time period (an issue I had with World Without End, too). After being engrossed in that book, loving, hating, caring about the characters in it, after feeling like I was living in Kingsbridge for 900 pages, I was excited for this follow up. I wanted more, I wanted to be back in that world, expe Let me preface this review by saying that I loved Pillars of the Earth. A lot. I thought it was almost perfect, in fact, except for one minor issue that I had with the dialogue sounding too modern for the time period (an issue I had with World Without End, too). After being engrossed in that book, loving, hating, caring about the characters in it, after feeling like I was living in Kingsbridge for 900 pages, I was excited for this follow up. I wanted more, I wanted to be back in that world, experiencing life right along with the people I was reading about, the people I cared about. So I picked this audiobook up and started it. And all was good... for a while. It didn't take me long to start feeling that something was wrong. It didn't take me long to start feeling like Follett had ripped off his own book. Maybe if I'd had 20 years to forget the details of Pillars before reading Book World Without End, maybe I wouldn't have felt the similarities as much, and I'd have liked it more. It isn't a BAD story, but I lost patience with it really quickly and then I stuck with it far longer than I should have hoping that it would come around. I made it 80%, and by the end, I couldn't tell you what happened, because I stopped listening. It was playing in the background while I worked, and I could hear it, but it wasn't holding my attention at all. I wanted more of Follett's Kingsbridge world, yes, but I didn't expect Pillars of the Earth: Now With New Character Names! I wanted a different story. Instead, I got a rehash of Pillars, and so I kept comparing them in my head. "Oh, There's the devious, overbearing mother-plotter..." "Here's the Lord-Who-Thinks-He's-God..." "Another brilliantly talented at a really young age master craftsman... who woulda thunk it?" and so on and so on... Did I like the characters? Yeah. Sure. I didn't care about them nearly as much as I cared about the Pillars characters though. Did I like the story? I guess. I did love the performance though. John Lee read this audio, and he was great. But still... I just endured this one, rather than enjoyed it, and couldn't bring myself to keep going another twelve hours to finish. Enough is enough.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    "...epic, historic novel"??! Good Lord, I must be reading a different book than everyone else. This seems formulaic and forced. Characters are more like caricatures; and what's the deal with everyone fornicating all the time??! Not that there's anything wrong with fornicating per se, I just don't care for books that use it as a major plot device time after time after time. I actually checked the cover to make sure it wasn't "Clan of the Cave Bear" 2.0... I'm going to finish this book (I think) 'caus "...epic, historic novel"??! Good Lord, I must be reading a different book than everyone else. This seems formulaic and forced. Characters are more like caricatures; and what's the deal with everyone fornicating all the time??! Not that there's anything wrong with fornicating per se, I just don't care for books that use it as a major plot device time after time after time. I actually checked the cover to make sure it wasn't "Clan of the Cave Bear" 2.0... I'm going to finish this book (I think) 'cause I'm feeling a little masochistic. I may have to make my own book cover though, with Fabio as the builder replete with heaving chest and flowing locks on the cover. ;P Update: I've finished. Unless you are on the beach and looking to read but not think, and feel that a book cover emblazoned with 'Harlequin' is benath you-I really can't recommend this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I think this is one of those rare occasions where the "sequel" turned out better than the original. (I use the term sequel loosely, there are a few references to the first book, but most of what happens is independent of that.) Pillars of the Earth was an amazing story, but I think at times it was a little bogged down with the descriptions of medieval masonry. World Without End certainly has architectural elements, but it was usually a couple quick sentences about how Merthin could build somethi I think this is one of those rare occasions where the "sequel" turned out better than the original. (I use the term sequel loosely, there are a few references to the first book, but most of what happens is independent of that.) Pillars of the Earth was an amazing story, but I think at times it was a little bogged down with the descriptions of medieval masonry. World Without End certainly has architectural elements, but it was usually a couple quick sentences about how Merthin could build something new, but simplistic, that no one had ever seen before. As a result, this book was much more character/plot driven. The same general theme of good vs. evil prevails. There are times when, maddeningly, it seems the only way to get ahead in life is to stomp on all the other people around you, but ultimately, Follett gives the reader the happy ending they were looking for. I was satisfied that many more of the characters received more poetic justice. (view spoiler)[ Ralph killed by his son, Godwyn killed by the very plague he ran to escape, Prior Anthony, though he was certainly not evil, killed by the bridge he didn't want to repair, and Caris's face engraved on an angel watching over the town. (hide spoiler)] This led to a more satisfying read overall, where I remember being frustrated by the way many of the other characters' story lines ended in Pillars of the Earth. I think Follett did an excellent job of trying to portray how people would think and operate in a world that didn't understand how communicable disease was spread (in this case the plague). The muslims believed the disease was transmitted by light beams reflected from the eyes of a sick person. I'm not sure if this is a historically accurate viewpoint, but it was an interesting thought. As was seeing how modern medicine might have found it's beginnings in 14th century Europe. What if the plague had never come? How long might it have taken people to discover why sickness could spread and how? Would we still be bleeding people and speaking of humors? My only real complaint is that there were a few mysteries that were never quite solved. Who was Philemon's secret lover? Was it a man or woman? What happened to old King Edward? And what was the deal with the damn cat! I know he's supposed to symbolize something, and that it could be interpreted differently according to each reader, but I'm curious to know what the author intended the cat to mean. Ultimately, these minor mysteries are of little to no consequence and have no real impact on the story. Overall an excellent book and a must read for anyone who enjoyed Pillars of the Earth.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Xu

    This book is like the book before the Pillar of the Earth in that it is about the lives of three or four main characters throughout their lives of childhood through adulthood seen through their troubles and hopes every so often in the the city of Kingsbridge, two hundred years after. It starts with two family, the family of Gwenda, who is poor and steals from Merthin and Ralph, making them without broke. It is a book that is epic with their struggle between the them along with other characters, This book is like the book before the Pillar of the Earth in that it is about the lives of three or four main characters throughout their lives of childhood through adulthood seen through their troubles and hopes every so often in the the city of Kingsbridge, two hundred years after. It starts with two family, the family of Gwenda, who is poor and steals from Merthin and Ralph, making them without broke. It is a book that is epic with their struggle between the them along with other characters, in which some stands in their ways through the hate between certain characters by making lives bad. For example, not allowing things to be build or allowed land to be owned. Then halfway throughout the book turns to the problem of the Black Death of how it spreads across Europe. Also throughout the book, the men uses their dominates to get their sexual needs fulfilled. I would have give this book five stars, but does the book really has to end on a happy ending before the full life of the characters are seen?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rick Alpert

    This is a long....very long book. At times it was difficult to get motivated to keep going with it. I have really enjoyed Ken Follett's books in the past, but the endless scheming, plotting and machinations of the characters became tiring. I'm fine with all the sex and hypocrisy of the church. The difficulty I had was that the characters are drawn with very large black and white brush strokes. The protagonists are just way too good and the antagonists are just so evil. There's no grey anywhere a This is a long....very long book. At times it was difficult to get motivated to keep going with it. I have really enjoyed Ken Follett's books in the past, but the endless scheming, plotting and machinations of the characters became tiring. I'm fine with all the sex and hypocrisy of the church. The difficulty I had was that the characters are drawn with very large black and white brush strokes. The protagonists are just way too good and the antagonists are just so evil. There's no grey anywhere and that makes them more contrived and less believable. You definitely feel the deliberate manipulation in the plotting as the characters overcome one adversity after another. I liked the historical setting and appreciate Follett's ability to construct such an elaborate story line. But, in the end it felt like I invested a lot of time in something that was not as compelling as I would of liked.

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