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World Without End [Paperback]

Ken Follett
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 7 2008
In 1989 Ken Follett astonished the literary world with The Pillars of the Earth, a sweeping epic novel set in twelfth-century England centered on the building of a cathedral and many of the hundreds of lives it affected. Critics were overwhelmed—“it will hold you, fascinate you, surround you” (Chicago Tribune)—and readers everywhere hoped for a sequel.

World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas— about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race—the Black Death.

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

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World Without End + The Pillars of the Earth + Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Eighteen years after Pillars of the Earth weighed in with almost 1,000 pages of juicy historical fiction about the construction of a 12th-century cathedral in Kingsbridge, England, bestseller Follett returns to 14th-century Kingsbridge with an equally weighty tome that deftly braids the fate of several of the offspring of Pillars' families with such momentous events of the era as the Black Death and the wars with France. Four children, who will become a peasant's wife, a knight, a builder and a nun, share a traumatic experience that will affect each of them differently as their lives play out from 1327 to 1361. Follett studs the narrative with gems of unexpected information such as the English nobility's multilingual training and the builder's technique for carrying heavy, awkward objects. While the novel lacks the thematic unity of Pillars, readers will be captivated by the four well-drawn central characters as they prove heroic, depraved, resourceful or mean. Fans of Follett's previous medieval epic will be well rewarded. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This book is a big event. In 1989 Follett published what was to become one of his most popular novels, The Pillars of the Earth, a historical epic about the construction of an English cathedral, set in the twelfth century. Now, 18 years later and with several intervening best-sellers to his credit, Follett presents his eager fans with a sequel to Pillars. According to publicity material, he spent three years writing it, and it shows, because this an amazingly well-researched, intricately plotted, richly detailed novel that, while long in pages, never sprawls or flags. It is set in the same English cathedral town as Pillars, some two centuries later, and has as its primary characters the descendants of the major characters that appeared in the previous book. Follett's technique is to follow the lives of four individuals who have varying goals in life and, in the process, build a comprehensive tapestry of medieval English life—an especially important background thread being the horrible natural disaster of that era, the black plague. Follet has complete mastery over his material, and the result is a novel destined for the best-seller lists. Hooper, Brad --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sequel to Pillars Oct. 13 2007
"World Without End" is a sequel, and comparisons are natural. Like many of the other reviewers I too had read the first volume years ago, and though I remember enjoying it very much I think that even if one does not read that book they will still experience a great read. WWE is loaded with interesting characters and literally hundreds of stories winding through the main plot. The characters come off as real and lively as well as purely evil, funny or pathetic - in other words a book chock full of something for every reader who truly enjoys settling down with a thick volume that takes effort to complete.

Follett creates and paints a believable world for his cast of characters. As usual the quality of the writing keep the story flowing and scene after scene setting up great events. Follett's characters are as usual drawn with daring, humor and more than a touch of mystery. The setting is dynamic and part of what I enjoyed the most, seeing how his creations moved through the society of the times and how they reacted, rebelled, fought and, yes, fornicated. Family life, and the society of the guilds and how they worked within the ages, and of course the conflicts that developed within that context.

Plotting is very strong, Follett should be congratulated for juggling so many characters and moving them through the scenes and situations he has created to bring out conflicts, love, hate and violence that was very much familiar to the time period. If, like me, you have enjoyed many of Follett's books, no matter what genre as much as I have then I believe you will like this one too, and very much.

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Look At The Middle Ages Sept. 6 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
A sequel to "The Pillars of the Earth", "World Without End" covers the period from 1327 to 1361, during the reign of Edward the Third.

It opens with the hiding of a document bearing on the death of Edward the Second and goes on from there to describe in detail, through the lives of the inhabitants of the cathedral town of Kingsbridge, the wars with France and the battle of Crecy, the feudal system and the relationship between nobles and serfs, the power of the Church and the political maneuverings within it, the Black death and related medical practices.

Some reviewers have objected to the scenes of sex and violence. They are present, as they are in the Old Testament. It is impossible to record the history of humankind without including two of it's prevalent practices.

Meticulously researched, well written and entertaining. For a non fiction portrayal of the same period, "A Distant Mirror" by Barbara W Tuchman is also recommended.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction Aug. 22 2014
By Murray
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book is a historical fiction tale set in the late Middle Ages in a small fictitious cathedral town. The story is ‘book ended’ by a mysterious letter. A knight is accosted by men at arms and he kills them and hides the letter that would reappear at the end of the story.

The majority of the story is about the local inhabitants who compete for survival and wealth. Various villains and good guys have it out in a rich setting. The time frame and setting give, in my opinion, the richness of this story. While the plot does thicken at points, it is the place that captures my interest. Whether it is a view of middle age building or farming or even the pubs, all of these gave me a perspective of a time I wouldn’t spend much effort to research.

Long stories take a investment of time and that made me feel for some of the characters. Feeling anger and joy at the various victories and defeats that flow from the pages I was engaged. I won’t give a spoiler, but it finished in a lofty manner. I felt that the writing was a bit mechanical at first but it began to flow with rhythm and I would look forward to reading it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good story with some caveats Aug. 19 2014
By SnowPharoah TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ken Follett is a masterful writer. He is able to weave stories that are complex, that touch on the challenges, the pains and the joys of everyday life like few other authors can and, in this belated sequel to "Pillars of the Earth", he shows us again his knowledge of social structures and life during medieval England. Very few authors are able to communicate the texture of the medieval times as Follet does. This knowledge, along with particular insights into architecture and building knowledge during this time, are particular treats for the reader of WWE.

This is a novel that I would recommend, but not as highly as the first. Three points here: First, Follett brings to the fore too many 21st century moral issues and questions without much of the thinking of 14th century England to help us understand why people thought the way they did. Issues such as the women's liberation, abortion, the validity of religious belief, the possibility of a woman living with a man without being married, etc. all were certainly a part of life at that time, but essentially are portrayed in a way that makes 21st century thought on these issues as the "correct" ways of thinking, and 14th century thought as the rigid, incorrect and harmful ways of conceiving of these issues. It is fine that Follett brings his opinions to his writing. One would hope, however, that there would be some justice in the way historical ideas about life were treated. Perhaps an exception to this criticism is that Follett does a very nice job in showing how the seeds of the scientific revolution were perhaps present in early ideas about medicine and architecture. But here, social and moral issues are not as front and center as with other, more personal questions.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I have learned a great deal in this book
I have learned a great deal in this book. Love, lust, treason and even murder.
It shoes you what money pride can do but not as much as love for one and other. Read more
Published 25 days ago by papyfou
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAVORITE
Published 1 month ago by RITA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exceptional research and presentation of historical facts.
Published 1 month ago by Waymark, Graeme
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
Wow! Pillars of the Earth and World without end are as compelling as the first two installments of the century trilogy! I really enjoyed!
Published 1 month ago by Yves Rathe
5.0 out of 5 stars It is one of the best books I have read in a long time
This book kept me spell bound. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The writing style is superb. There must have been an enormous amount of research done. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Helga
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is fabulous!
Another fabulous read from Ken Follett. His characters and their story will engage you and keep you reading to the very end of this one.
Published 3 months ago by Shairon E. Burton
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved World without End
I really got lost in the characters and the story. I couldn't put it down. Ken's writing is absolutely fantastic.
Published 7 months ago by Lisa Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought it was great
Just like "pillars of the earth" hard to put down. I highly recommend this book. Waiting for his third book in the century trilogy.
Published 13 months ago by paul thorvaldson
5.0 out of 5 stars first time for reading KF
The historical setting got me right off. Not having read any of Ken's books, I was quite supprised by the interest in it. Read more
Published 13 months ago by mmtt
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
Wish there could be a trilogy of this one too... just want to keep soaking up this historical fiction. A wonderful read
Published 16 months ago by Liz Sweatman
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