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World Without End

A book by Ken Follett

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A worthy successor to "Pillars of the Earth"

  • Jan 1, 2010
  • by
"World Without End" continues the story of Kingsbridge, a medieval town noted for the awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral designed and built some 200 hundred years earlier in the 12th century by Jack Builder.

Gwenda, a female medieval version of the Artful Dodger, is one of five starving children in a very poor family. Despite the horrific punishment that sees the hands chopped off a convicted thief, she's being raised by her father to be a cut-purse and a pickpocket. Ralph is a tall, strong boy whose hopeful family see him as destined for greater things. They imagine him as the young squire of a noble knight or (dare they wish for such an impossibility?) perhaps even elevated to the rank of knighthood and nobility itself. But Ralph is an aggressive bully and although he certainly seems to have the strength and the warlike skills to achieve such an ambition, he is sadly lacking in the ability to soak up any academic learning at all. Descended from Jack Builder, Merthin seems to be the polar opposite of his stepbrother, Ralph. Merthin is a kinder, gentler, more intelligent person whose innate pragmatic genius drives him to wonder how things work and how things are built. Caris, also a descendent of Jack Builder, shares in Jack's and Merthin's intelligence but she is determined to use that academic brilliance to study medicine, an activity strictly forbidden to mere women in the 14th century.

In 1327, these four children slip away from the confines of Kingsbridge and play in the forest, a dangerous activity forbidden to them by their parents. But who among us hasn't ignored a prohibition like that at one time or another? When, to their horror, they witness a killing that they cannot understand, their lives become inextricably entwined together and it is not until many, many years later that any of them will understand the dark motives behind the brutal event in the forest that unfolded before them that day.

Of course, "World Without End" is a sequel to Ken Follett's runaway bestseller, "Pillars of the Earth" and, as you might expect, Kingsbridge Cathedral, the priory and Merthin's skills as an engineer, a mason, a designer and an architect, all play a central role in the continuing story. Caris' cousin, Godwyn, also a descendant of Tom Builder, becomes a monk at a very early age and sets his career sights very high indeed. With an abundant supply of self-confidence and arrogance, he is absolutely convinced that it is in Kingsbridge's and his own best interests that he become no less than the Prior of the cathedral. Of course, this is still the 14th century and, clearly, Godwyn, the priory and the authority of the Catholic Church will have no small part to play in the history of Kingsbridge as the story of the four children's lives begins to play out against the rich medieval backdrop that Follett provides.

Feudalism, medieval law, the iron hand of the Catholic Church, the innate male chauvinism of the day, the nobility, ongoing war against France and, of course, the Black Death that savaged Europe in the second half of the fourteenth century, all play a major role in Follett's epic tale, "World Without End". Given the setting of the story in terms of time and place, this shouldn't come as a surprise. What may come as a surprise is that, although readers of "Pillars of the Earth" who waited so long for this sequel were desperately afraid that Follett couldn't possibly repeat such a literary triumph, their worries were quite groundless. Follett has provided his fans with an epic tale that veritably leaps off the pages - bloody war and battles; greed, ambition and power; lust, love and loyalty; suspense and intrigue; and, of course, a realistic, astonishingly well developed historical setting that will transport delighted readers to the heart of medieval England.

"World Without End" is a doorstopper weighing in at a hefty 1000+ pages. But, without a doubt, it's the fastest 1000 pages that you're ever going to read and you'll still be sorry to see it end. What a story!

Paul Weiss

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More World Without End reviews
review by . January 03, 2009
World Without End Ken Follett   In this follow up to The Pillars of the Earth Ken Follett picks up the story line exactly where he left us years ago. World Without End  is truly a masterpiece, with rich characters, scenery, smells and sights of the Middle Ages without ever leaving your own home. This epic novel covers years in the live of many characters examing the interlacing of relationships between a village and its people, leaders, rebels, outlaws, priests and nuns. Powerful entities …
review by . March 29, 2009
World without End
    When four children meet in the forest to practice shooting the arrows made by one of them, Merthin, none can imagine the way their lives will intersect over the years. After a solemn promise to a wounded knight, Merthin honors the confidence and remains forever enamored of Caris, who encounters many obstacles in determining her future, many the result of her inordinate intelligence in a world that gives short shrift to women; Ralph fulfills his destiny as a man of action …
review by . January 09, 2009
The story is great. Yes, some may call it a bit obvious at times, or even predictable, but I found it to be a great story for a long daily commute.    Plenty has been written about the story itself, so I'll mention the things I found important with the audio CDs.    One of the things I have come to love about certain mastering processes with these audio books is when they let you know the disc is over. And not only that, tell you which disc to put in next. …
review by . October 09, 2007
I am a big fan of Ken Follett, and admire that he moves in a seemingly effortless manner between genres. However, his best work is found in the "great historical novel", and he has delivered handsomely with this latest effort.    This is being touted as a sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth" which is true enough, but it is also a little misleading, as it is set 200 years after the tales told in that magnificent novel, and as such can definitely be read as a stand alone novel. …
review by . December 17, 2007
Historical purists will not be pleased. Neither will readers who make their selections based on the length of a book, or people who object to a little sex in their reading (World is hardly pornography), or religious fundamentalists.   But those who enjoy ripping epic adventures, historical settings, compelling characters, and plot twist after twist, should have a fine time in World Without End. Yes, it mimics its predecessor, but that is precisely what I, for one, was hoping for. Jumping …
About the reviewer
Paul Weiss ()
Ranked #15
   A modern day dilettante with widely varied eclectic interests. A dabbler in muchbut grandmaster of none - wilderness camping in all four seasons, hiking, canoeing, world travel,philately, … more
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Bestseller lists

  • Topped the Belgian best-seller list (November 2008)
  • #1 on The Sunday Times paperback best-seller list (19 October 2008)
  • Topped the French best-seller list within a week of publication (October 2008)
  • #1 on The New York Times best-seller list (28 October)
  • #1 on The Globe and Mail bestseller list (26 October)
  • #1 on the Booksellers New Zealand best-seller list (26 October)
  • #1 on the Entertainment Weekly best-seller list (26 October)
  • #1 on the Publishers Weekly best-seller list (22 October)
  • #1 on The Wall Street Journal best-seller list (13 October)
  • #1 on the Sony e-book best-seller list in the USA (13 October)
  • #3 on The Sunday Times best-seller list (28 October)
  • #2 in Spain (English edition, 17 October)
  • #3 in Germany (English edition, 17 October)
  • Topped the Italian best-seller list within a week of publication (October)
    • Toppedfdsf the Belgian best-sellist (November 2008)
    • #1 on The Sunday Times paperback best-seller list (19 October 2008)
    • Topped the French best-seller list within a week of publication (October 2008)
    • #1 on The New York Times best-seller list (28 October)
    • #1 on The Globe and Mail bestseller list (26 October)
    • #1 on the Booksellers New Zealand best-seller list (26 October)
    • #1 on the Entertainment Weekly best-seller list (26 October)
    • #1 on the Publishers Weekly best-seller list (22 ...
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ISBN-10: 0525950079
ISBN-13: 978-0525950073
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1 edition (October 9, 2007)
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