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World Without End

A book by Ken Follett

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"When a man is proud, that counts for more than common sense."

  • Mar 29, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4


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 rather than logic, successfully brutalizing those who stand between him and his impulses; Gwenda, the poorest and least likely to achieve, is trapped in her heritage, a peasant with simple dreams, none of which comes easily or without tremendous personal cost.

Using characters in the same manner at Edward Rutherfurd (Dublin, The Princes of Ireland, The Rebels of Ireland), the four animate the plot in 14th century Kingsbridge, all activities revolving around the priory of Kingsbridge Cathedral and the petty jealousies of the priors and noblemen who are restricted only by opportunity. Greedy and ambitious, the nobles anticipate war with France to fill their coffers; meanwhile the priory, under the stewardship of Godwyn, Caris' cousin, remains steadfast in its small-minded, tight-fisted hold on power, limiting the growth of the city, the prior surrounding himself with sycophants, turning a blind eye to the demands of the future.

Follett defines the logjam of God vs. progress in the conflict between priory and growing city. As long as the Church retains the final decision, local politics will be determined by religious influence; it will not be until the reign of Henry VIII that the status quo is significantly challenged. It is no surprise that by the reign of Richard III, brother of Edward IV, the peasants and townspeople welcome the sweeping changes to existing laws, citizens long inured to suffering at the hands of noblemen who govern their lives and livelihoods. Meanwhile Kingsbridge endures wars and embraces trade opportunities, defeated at every turn by a prior unable to govern without the comfort of personal grievances. It remains to Caris, in all her incarnations, and Merthin, who must make his fortune elsewhere before earning the respect of the Guild, to push for change, time and again running afoul of Prior Godwyn and his right-hand man, Philomen.

With over a thousand pages, this novel is filled with the mendacity of small men who seek only personal aggrandizement, the prosperity of Kingsbridge ever in thrall to ambition married to limited imagination. The story is often ponderous rather than driven, the weight of an intransigent prior burdening the tale with the inevitability of failure; yet Follett's sequel to Pillars of the Earth does illuminate the petty governance and grinding bureaucracy that inevitably metes out injustice to the powerless. Bad luck dogs certain characters, the predictable defeats frequently tedious, as well as an endless contretemps between Merthin and Caris. In the end, Death is the great leveler of every injustice, striking with a deft hand and with impunity. Luan Gaines.


World without End

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More World Without End reviews
review by . January 01, 2010
"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. …
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 . 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
Luan Gaines ()
Ranked #86
An artist/writer, I have traveled the world, walked on the moon and learned the complicated language of humanity, the enormity of the universe... all through the written word. My first passport was a … 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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Details

ISBN-10: 0525950079
ISBN-13: 978-0525950073
Author: Ken Follett
Genre: Literature & Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers
Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1 edition (October 9, 2007)
First to Review
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