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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 + Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy + 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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
By Donald Mitchell #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
It's not possible to write a book as profoundly intriguing and moving as Pillars of the Earth, even if it is a sequel of that very book by the same author. Why? A lot of the appeal of such a groundbreaking book is in our fresh reactions to something unlike what we have read before. Once you've had those reactions, a new book is seen through different eyes and with higher expectations.

That said, most people will be pleased that they take the time to read the over 1,000 pages of World Without End. But start your expectations lower than the way you remember Pillars of the Earth.

I started late on Wednesday night and couldn't put it down until I finished today . . . with brief breaks for sleep and refreshment.

At one level, the book is simply a soap opera based in the Middle Ages where youthful encounters set lifelong enmities and alliances into motion. At another level, World Without End is a fictional history of the 14th century as seen through English eyes. At a third level, this book creates a bridge between the 14th century and the 21st century by presenting modern sensibilities in medieval dress.

World Without End returns to Kingsbridge, England, two centuries after Pillars of the Earth. Kingsbridge, the cathedral, and descendants of the key characters in Pillars of the Earth provide the continuity. But this is a Kingsbridge led by people who are either obsessed with never changing anything or by seeking personal advantage . . . regardless of the cost. As a result, when there are problems, well, it's a problem to fix things.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Follett classic Nov. 28 2007
This book will take its place among the classics of modern literature. While I read PILLARS and liked it, I do not think that book will have the same shelf space relegated to it. WORLD WITHOUT END was written eighteen years after PILLARS and there's a reason Follett probably waited so long: he was keen on making the best novel possible. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a great story, because that's just what it is. while Follett writes historical novels---at least some of them---don't be turned off, thinking this is going to be some dry, boring read. It is not, by far. A master over his material, I'd rank this book right up there with KITE RUNNER, A THOUSDAND SPLENDID SUNS, and the novel MIDDLESEX.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy successor to "Pillars of the Earth"! July 4 2009
"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?
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Look At The Middle Ages
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. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert P. Brown
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 1 month ago by papyfou
4.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction
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. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Murray
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story with some caveats
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... Read more
Published 2 months ago by SnowPharoah
5.0 out of 5 stars A FAVORITE
Published 2 months ago by RITA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Exceptional research and presentation of historical facts.
Published 2 months 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 2 months 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 2 months 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 5 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 8 months ago by Lisa Brown
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