World Without End by Ken FollettWorld Without End by Ken Follett

World Without End

byKen Follett

Mass Market Paperback | October 2, 2012

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

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. Look out for the next book in this series, A Column of Fire, available September 2017.

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 crossroads 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.

Ken Follett is one of the world’s best-loved authors, selling more than 160 million copies of his thirty books. Follett’s first bestseller was Eye of the Needle, a spy story set in the Second World War.  In 1989 The Pillars of the Earth was published, and has since become the author's most successful novel. It reached number one on bes...
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Title:World Without EndFormat:Mass Market PaperbackDimensions:1056 pages, 6.81 × 4.25 × 1.54 inPublished:October 2, 2012Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0451418441

ISBN - 13:9780451418449

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Customer Reviews of World Without End

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from fun fun light read, nothing too heavy
Date published: 2017-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Beautiful read and you enjoy following all the different story lines and how they intertwine.
Date published: 2017-09-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent series Another great read and follow-up to 'Pillars', however, a bit wordy in places but still an enjoyable book.
Date published: 2017-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Story, Decent Writing Ken Follett knows how to tell a good story. He's a genius and his writing is very compelling. I find that he won't use 10 words where 20 will do. His novels drag at times, but are well worth the wait.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow you will not be disappointed
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow nearly as good as the first one
Date published: 2017-07-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from As good as the first This is a different time, with a different set of struggles, but that doesn't make it any less appealing than the first book
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Novel Great follow up to Pillars of the Earth! Loved
Date published: 2017-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Liked it Great epic read. Perfect for the reader who reads one book a season and who might like to immerse themselves slowly into characters and events.
Date published: 2017-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from World Without End This is not a quick easy read but it is an entertaining and involved novel. Loved the first two in this series and I am waiting for the third story!
Date published: 2017-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gripping, detailed historical saga This book was a wonderful sequel to Pillars of the Earth! I loved the sprawling continuation of the story across centuries, while still following the original family descendants. Follett is really at his best here, capturing in great detail what it must have been like to live in that time period. For those who have read that it starts slow, stick with it and you'll find that it's well worth your time. You won't be able to put it down. This has become a definite favourite and I'd happily read it all over again!
Date published: 2017-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it! Loved the voice the author gave to Caris one of my favorites characters ever, an independent woman in that time. Can’t wait for book #3
Date published: 2017-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Another great read by Ken Follett
Date published: 2017-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Sequel As good as the first book, but with different struggles.
Date published: 2017-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really loved this book! I read Pillars last year and was so happy to find that the story continues. Can't wait for the next book in the series to be released!
Date published: 2017-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great I enjoyed Pillars of the Earth and this one did not disappoint either. I really enjoyed it, now to read the next one!
Date published: 2016-12-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great one! I love this series. I reread it 3 times already. Love learning about history and be entertain at the same time... we get lost in this world... so well written with a ring of truth... a must!
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Enjoyable! If you liked The Pillars of the Earth then this is a good read. Not as good as the first, but the similar setting is quite a fantastic and engaging read!
Date published: 2016-11-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoyed Didn't quite turn out as good as pillars of the earth but it is still one of his best
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Just as good as his other works As good as anything he'd ever written. Picked it up after Pillars of the Earth and wasn't disappointed.
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thoroughly enjoyed this I am a big Ken Follett fan and this book did not disappoint! I enjoyed the character development and love envisioning the surroundings of the 12th century surroundings. This was my 5th Folllet book and I'm ready for the 6th!
Date published: 2015-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall of Giants Excellent read! I can't wait to get to the other two books of the trilogy...and continue on with Pillars of the Earth.
Date published: 2015-07-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from riveting Couldn't put it down. A good picture of the life in the middle ages. Strong family ties. Love interests. Loved the ending to the book.
Date published: 2015-04-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read. Historical fiction at it's finest.
Date published: 2014-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic novel Very well written and captivating story. I read Follet's earlier book, Pillars of the Earth and thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is also written in the same vein. If you like historical fiction you will enjoy this book.
Date published: 2014-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from riveting Loved it! Saw the miniseries on TV first and then bought the book. The book is just as enjoyable as the TV series. I'm actually rereading the book now.
Date published: 2014-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from riveting I thought this was a great book. Its a pretty heavy and long read but completely worth it. There are so many layers to it and the characters, the plot, the history and the realism is like an intricate pattern delicately woven on silk!
Date published: 2014-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Master Enginneer World With Out End has been a wonderful inspiration helping me to relate in a more understanding manner to events happening in my own life. D
Date published: 2013-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb! Excellent book. Follet is always having the nerve ongoing to the finish line!
Date published: 2013-07-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring and unforgettable What a story....
Date published: 2013-06-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from World Without End Another masterpiece of historical fiction by Follett!
Date published: 2013-05-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! Loved and hated all the characters at one point or anuther. Couldn't put this book down!!!
Date published: 2013-05-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from World Without End Even better then Pillars, terrific read.
Date published: 2013-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from World without end Fascinating read. Total involving great story.
Date published: 2013-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from World Without End A great historical novel with characters to captivate the reader.
Date published: 2013-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Story 1000 pages may seem daunting at first but Follett pulls you into the story. Following the lives of very intriguing characters in the city of Kingsbridge and the perils of life in this historical period. Women, peasants, and noblemen use brains and braun to survive a world ruled by the ever-cautios church, and an unrelenting plague. Scheming and dreaming, some characters acheive there utmost desires while others succumb to fates most unexpected. Very well-written and unpredictable.
Date published: 2012-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding! I couldn't put the book down. It was filled with compelling story lines and intriguing characters. I especially loved the way Ken Follett portrayed strong women. I wasn't sure he could top Pillars of the Earth but he did.
Date published: 2012-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read All 1025 pages are worth it. This book is just as good if not better than Pillars of the Earth. This book is based 2 generations after Pillars of the Earth. It has a similar feel but different conflicts and villains. I think it is actually a little bit better, you decide. A MUST READ!
Date published: 2011-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Whoop!!! Well, its been a long time since I read a book this long and at the same time captivating. I found the story strickingly similar to Pillars of the Earth, nevertheless it was a great read and really enjoyed it. I am currently reading Fall of Giants and its going great as well. Well done Ken Follet.
Date published: 2011-03-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really Fabulous and surpasses the quality of Pillars! Set in the 14th Century, this is a sequel to the Pillars of the Earth. The main characters are descendents of Jack and Aliena. Similar to Pillars, World Without End spans many years as well. It takes in about 40 years or so. This is a very satisfying way to helping us to see where the characters go as they encounter situations which force them into making decisions. The main characters for World are Merthin and Caris, although there are plenty of other strong supporting characters. These two however, are very strong characters – very multi-dimensional and dynamic. I think Follett did a fantastic job of giving us a lot of depth to their characters. I also found it interesting that Follett could give us an understanding of the decisions that Ralph Fitzgerald made, despite he being a strong antagonist in this book. Ultimately I think I liked this book BETTER than Pillars of the Earth. The storyline never seemed to drag for me; I was always interested in the many storylines that were featured in the book. It definitely showed how women were able to deal with the obstacles that were their enemies, i.e. men’s/church/royalty’s fear of losing control and hence their privileged positions. I really enjoyed the clarity that Follett gave to these themes. After reading this, I actually feel that royalty is an absolute farce. (Although I have done tons of reading about royalty and probably still will.) The clarity for me was his ability to explain that blue bloods really exist because people (those that are “lower born”) are somehow made to believe they are meant to be privileged because this is the will of G-d, and that only through priests, monks and nuns can the ordinary person communicate with G-d. This is quite farcical however this was certainly the sentiment of that century. The book had great adventure. I had read many of the reviews of this book prior to reading it myself. I personally found that those reviews gave me a pessimistic view of how this book would be. Sequels often are bad imitations of the original. However, as I said, I think I liked this book better than Pillars, and if you are ready to read 1013 pages (in the paperback version), you will not be disappointed in this. It is really fantastic, and I totally loved it.
Date published: 2011-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the time I loved this book - did not want to put it down - I was very sad to see the end of the book just because I would not be seeing the charactors any more. Well
Date published: 2011-01-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Book Without End This sort-of-sequel to Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" was not as exciting, thrilling or original as its predecessor. In fact, more often than not I found myself finding, and deriding, so many similarities with "Pillars" that I might as well have just reread it. There is the long held secret that keeps the reader wondering about its importance until the very end, the clone characters (Merthin = Jack, Caris = Aliena) and the ever-twisting back and forth struggle between the good people and the bad. The one thing that keeps this novel from being a complete flop is Follett's talent for fast paced and engaging writing. Yes, he repeats himself from time to time, but the plot flows along at a tepid pace at just the right moments; moments where I thought I'd put the book down for good. Follett is a very good writer and fans of his won't be too disappointed so long as they can forgive him for rehashing the "Pillars'" story under a different name.
Date published: 2010-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read This writer takes you back to 14th century England and makes you believe you're right there. Unforgettable characters in this book as well as the first.
Date published: 2010-09-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not worth the time. I am sorry to say that I did not enjoy this book. I found it unbelievable for the time period that it took place in (medieval). At times the novel felt contrived. Perhaps because I am a history buff but the inconsistencies nearly galled me to tears. Irregardless the novel felt very long and despite the huge jumps in time that occur throughout the novel I was happy to see the end of it.
Date published: 2010-09-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from pretty good this book has an extremely good story. although in some places i thought it just kept on stretching the current situation but it is a very good read . !!!!!!!
Date published: 2010-09-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful! World Without End comes to life with it's full detail and rich characters. The story was very well written and you can easily get lost in this book for hours at a time. I was sad when I finished the book because I didn't want the story to end!
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Rich World Without End is a sequel of The Pillars of the Earth. A book rich in history, social issues and religion with architecture sprinkled on top. Unlike the pillars of the earth that revolved around building the Kingsbridge cathedral and was rich in architectural history this book focused more on the social aspects of life in the early 1300’s and all the politics that surrounded Kingsbridge priory . You see the struggle of young against old, new ideas against well established traditions , women’s fight against prejudice and most importantly it talks about a love story that spanned decades of hardship and struggle. One of the things that fascinated me is how women used to live and how they had to fight hard for their rights , for example if a woman speaks up or is gifted somehow and is a threat to the old based traditions or is against certain cultural issues she is deemed a witch and gets hanged or whipped to death. It also talked about the black death and how thousands upon thousands of people died leaving behind empty cities and homes. It talks about how doctors used to treat patients and how one woman made a big difference it fighting the plague. It’s not a short book to read, it’s about 1000 pages long but it kept me hooked and kept me wanting more. You know a book is good that when it ends you are sad it did. I give it the 2 thumbs up
Date published: 2010-04-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Pillars Of The Earth I'll start by writing that Pillars of the Earth is a fantastic novel and when I heard the author was writing a sequel I could barely contain myself! Unfortunately, this book is not like Pillars Of The Earth. It's not believable and the author gives the reader very little credit. He spells out every little mystery that occurs in the novel as if his reader lacks any sort of intelligence. I enjoyed the book but it definitely cannot be compared to it's predecessor.
Date published: 2010-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but not as great as Pillars of the Earth I loved Pillars, and was excited to get to 'continue' with the saga of Kingsbridge. This novel was good, and I do recommend it. However, it was not as good as Pillars of the Earth. This book at times seemed 'templated' from Pillars. And after having read Pillars, I discovered that Ken Follett became predictable in a lot of the storyline of this novel.
Date published: 2009-11-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my Favourites! I absolutely loved Pillars of the Earth, so I was a bit skeptical and thought that World Without End would tarnish my love for Ken Follett. I'm happy to say that I loved it just as much if not more than the prequel and that Follett remains one of my all-time favourite authors. The characters are great, the story-line is great, the history is great ... it's just generally great. An awesome read and well worth the time it'll take!
Date published: 2009-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wow! As a previous reader of Pillars of the Earth, I was eager to pick up World Without End. Although commencing the 900+ page novel, boasting the continuation of the story of life in 14th century England, may appear to the respective reader as a daunting task, I guarantee it will be utterly impossible to put down. Through it's pages, the author takes you on an exceptional journey of rich characters, intermingled plots and historical truisms. The inclusion of such genre-crossing themes as religion, love, war, early medicine, architecture and feudalism ensures any reader is engulfed from first page to last. Truly a magical work from a masterful storyteller.... one I will read again and again.
Date published: 2009-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved It This book is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth" , but can stand alone. I thought this book was written as well as "Pillars", and I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, characters and history. I love the way Follett tells a story, and I will miss not being taken away to Kingsbridge every day.A great book!
Date published: 2009-04-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing !!! Ken Follett has done it again. I was in love with Pillars of the Earth (read it in 2-3 days) and guess what, it was the same with WWE. Even though long (sometimes i thought Book Without End...lol) but I enjoyed every minute of it. Loved the characters and how they all interelated with each other. My favourite character was the bad seed , Ralph and the character I did not really like was Caris , the saint. If you loved Pillars, then you will enjoy this as well.
Date published: 2009-03-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Book The Book was soooo long but soooo good. I could not put it down. I loved most of the characters and it was annoying having to read about the evil, selfish characters who only care about themselves. There were so much elements added to this book and made me want to read more and never stop
Date published: 2009-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from He did it again!!! I sat down and read this in about 8-9 hours... I literally couldn't put it down and that is not from the sheer size of this wonderful novel (1000+ pages) but due to how captive an audience I was to Mr. Folletts story. This book is a much anticipated sequel to "PIllars of the Earth" set 200 years after that story took place. When I first picked this up I wondered how he would attempt to make the story just as good as the orginal not to mention just as interesting, it is hard to say for me which of these books I loved more.... either way both are extraordinarily good reads. I find it amazing the amount of time and detail that goes into these stories and one doesn't find themselves, yawning or frantically turning pages to get past the "boring bits." Honestly I have a bit of a short attention span so a book has to have a lot of interesting bits, with the usual twists and turns to keep me going, and when my dad first told me about these books, I was thinking...."Seriously.... a book about how buildings were constructed oooooooooooooh soooooooo long ago. How boring is this going to be????" So in desperation of needing something to read and knowing that if it was boring I would probably put it down after a few chapters and forget about it. Well I was wrong, my assumptions were totally off the mark and I think most people who are interested in a little bit of history, landmarks one can still visit and an amazing tale of how people lived you won't be disappointed. This is filled with juicy stories of love, betrayal, crisis, lust, sin.... you name it actually... and it is pretty much in there. I know I licked my lips and enjoyed a most delicious read. Very satisfying indeed. And Mr. Follett..... I tip my hat to you sir. Excellent job.
Date published: 2009-02-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another unbelievable read!! While I loved pillars of the earth more, I still fell in love with the characters and their struggle. A wonderful read!
Date published: 2009-01-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from brillently written Unlike the first book, but to let the readers know now before reading the sequel of ' Pillars Of The Earth' you won't be disappointed but how ever for the first 100 pages it'll get everything and everyone up to speed so you'll know whose whose kinda like the bible begat the father of so and so plus at the same it describe who the charaters or and what they do, so just have patients and keep reading and don't lose focus because once again " KEN FOLLET" deliveries another great story kinda similiar to the first but different time fram and different people but there or also twist and turns in this one also. the first book was better " Pillars Of The Earth" but there where charaters in this one i really liked and what I like about these two books I love the History of them, and even though it was staged way back when kinda of thing it goes to show even after all this time were all still the same way. I can relate with the story and charaters even in modern times. I feel they feel and felt the same way that i feel today about certain situations and not only i learned about our history I also appreciated my ancesters more for they or the ones that did most of the work to make my life much easier and yet I "my self " has taken many avenues for granted after reading these two books it made me see what they had to go through just to pave the way and I also learned the dedication about our christain belief system, and yet today we allowed some one to come in and change it all on us when the people back than really fought for our christainty these or our "FAR FATHERS" and yet we today in today world we do nothing but sit on or butts and allow this to happen and the people back than really truly believe and fought, what happened to us.? so yes I learned alot from both books and I really enjoyed them so much I bought the series for my 18 year old son and my mother in law for christmas presents and gave my copies to my best friend to read her and i do this all the time we share and so far she's also enjoying it. so once again "KEN FOLLET" has delivered an compelling story highly recommended.
Date published: 2009-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Epic I absolutely loved Pillars... and thankfully I had only read it recently so I didn't have to waste any time at all waiting for this book. I loved 'World Without End' too!... maybe moreso than Pillars! (if that is possible) I simply became immersed in the story, the characters, and the era. Truly an epic read.
Date published: 2008-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing ,well researched! I couldn't wait to read World without End as I really enjoyed Pillars. It was a page turner.Don't let the size scare you.Each page is filled with adventure ,love and excitement.I loved it . I wish I could find more novels with a good story line and set in this era. Enjoy! Lois
Date published: 2008-11-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Captivating. Never have I been so immersed in a novel than I was in Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth". I was almost convinced that nothing else I would ever read again could match that hypnosis I had. Thankfully, I was wrong. "World Without End" picks up 200 years later in Kingsbridge, and though you do not have to read Pillars to enjoy this book, I highly recommend you do. Though this book does contain the familiar character types of the noble builder and evil earl, it also takes on a radical shift. Where Prior Philip was a genuine man who served God and wanted the best for his community, the church in this book takes on a completely different role. Follet captures it as traditionalist and stubborn, especially in the face of the plague, where the intelligence and sensibleness comes from the most unlikely of places: an uneducated woman and an aspiring peasent architect. This is why I recommend reading Pillars first, because it is quite refreshing to see these role reversals. Follett's approach in this book is also quite different I find. In Pillars, the battle between good and evil, honest and wicked was very prevalent. In World Without End, while there is cruelty, Follett chooses the path of enlightened versus traditionalist. Numerous times throughout the work you will see the battles take place between those that aspire to change and those that would rather see things stay the same. All the characters, though some humble, share some type of ego, whether it be because they believe they know what is best for the common good, or just simply to become powerful and gain prestige. I view World Without End as an extension of Pillars. Follett's unmatched character development, scripting, and suspenseful plot mirror all that was amazing about the previous work. But World Without End is by all means its own epic journey. It is shrouded in mystery, intertwined with romance, and most importantly it uncovers a time when free thought against institutionalism and monarchy was just beginning to emerge. It is another monumental masterpiece for Follett, and I pray he has one more left in him.
Date published: 2008-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing, again. Once again Ken Follett did not let me down. I cannot even describe the majesty of this novel, like Pillars of the Earth, because a reader really has to experience this. I think these two novels he has written are so incredible because the reader spends so much time with the character; you get to know them as if they were real and you truly feel different when you leave them at the end of the novel. Like Pillars, you start in one place and Follett plops you down in another by the end. World Without End, albeit different from Pillars of the Earth, is no less incredible and wholly worth the 1,000 page read.
Date published: 2008-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Better than Pillars I thought Pillars of the Earth was excellent, but this one exceded it. I really related to the characters, and having read Pillars of the Earth, was able to see the family characteristics passed on to future generations. There wasn't as much technical information in this book as there was in Pillars (architecture), it spent more time focused on the relationships of the characters and the difficulties they faced at that time in history. The great thing about this book is that you don't have to have read Pillars of the Earth to read this one, but you will certainly get more from the book if you have read it. I will definitely read this one again!!!!
Date published: 2008-08-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It could have been twice as long. My cat hates this book. I have the hardcover; there was no space left for him on my lap during the almost endless hours of my being lifted away into this wonderful and scary world which was also all too real and revealing about what formed this intriguing society called Britain. As I said, it could have been twice as long.
Date published: 2008-05-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enjoyable, But Not the Equal of The Pillars of the Earth This was very good, perhaps even great. However, it was not as good as The Pillars of the Earth, which I found to be outstanding.
Date published: 2008-04-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A Very Long Slog I have to admit that as I read both the Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I had the strangest feeling that I had read them both before. While I knew that I hadn’t, there were points in both books where it seemed that I could very nearly predict how the plot would go, and strangely, it just about matched my predictions. Eventually, it occurred to me that the characters, the setting and the plots were very close to those in the Brother Cadfael Mysteries, written by Ellis Peters, pseudonym for Edith Pargeter. I suppose it’s difficult to write about a specific period in time (history) and not mimic previous books, but I was not as impressed with either of these books as I had expected to be, given the advance billing for them both. It felt like “been there, done that”, but on an omnibus scale. Frankly, I liked the Cadfael books much better. (Review written by Donna Parker)
Date published: 2008-02-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Book without End My overall impression after slogging through 1000+ pages of this behemoth is "meh." I felt pretty much the same way as I did about Pillars of the Earth: pretty good story, engaging characters ... but waaay overwritten. Good boy, Ken, you did your research, but there's no law that says you have to use every single last bit of it in your novel. And I resent investing the time to read a 1000-page story that could easily have been achieved in half that length. Was he being paid the word? I also deeply resent being treated like an idiot. Time and time again he'd repeat information about a character, or something that happened earlier in the story, as though he thought his readers were too stupid to remember. And "the event they witnessed as children that changed their lives"? What a load. If you're waiting for a big pay-off on that one, don't hold your breath. But despite all that, I'd still give the book a very mild recommendation. Just pick a time when you can read it at your leisure.
Date published: 2008-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unforgettable The story begins with four children - Caris, Merthin, Ralph, and Gwenda - hiding in the bushes, watching a knight defend himself against two others. Ralph, the muscle of the group, helps the knight in distress, by shooting one of his enemies in the eye with a bow and arrow. These are children of Kingsbridge, and their passion, crime, and adventure are interwoven into a plot, exciting and unpredictable. There is crime, war, scandals, treachery, romance - everything to make a fictional account of medieval England real and intense. Follet writes so that the reader is never left satisfied, and must read on. The most remarkable feature of this novel is how quickly the reader gets caught up in the world of Kingsbridge and its priory; you begin to dream, and the dream doesn't end until page 1014. I have read both "The Pillars of the Earth," and "World Without End," and guarantee that both are engrossing, exciting reads. If you want to witness a witch trial; listen, in secrecy, to scheming monks in Kingsbridge Priory, or save lives during the Plague, here's the place to do it. I read this book in record time, and, at the end, found myself wondering if Ken Follet would write a third. I reccomend this book, unreservedly, to anyone who thrills to read a great tale. Enjoy.
Date published: 2008-01-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! It was absolutely a fabulous book. I loved Pillars of the Earth..which I picked up because I love huge books and was so glad I did. It was a great book and World Without End was just as good. If you can read it, you won't regret it.
Date published: 2008-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well worth the wait! I was a huge fan of Pillars of the Earth-- read it 3 times. This book is a great great read-- I got it for Christmas and didnt put it down. It is not as good as Pillars of the Earth-- so dont go in expecting that (if you want a book that better compares- try A Dangerous Fortune). Its a great read though- a real page turner.
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simply the Best of 2007 It was hard to believe that after a gap of 18 years since the writing of "Pillars of the Earth", Follett could recapture and expand upon life in the Kingsbridge Prior. The new characters introduced are richly developed and the reader cannot help but feel their pain, their joys and their suffering. Caris, Merthin, Wulfric, Gwenda and Ralph are unique people and their lives are unfolded before the reader. This book contains it all, murder, treason, sexuality. homosexuality, love and forbidden love, all interwoven and made more complex by the deadly plague. Simply put, don't let this book pass you bye. The fact that there are 1000 pages made me say only 1000. I would loved to have had 10000 more. I was sad to see it end and sincerely hope that Mr Follett does not wait another 18 years to write a third episode. This book would get six stars if there were such a category!
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Read Ken Follett after taking a break of many years has finally come back and written the sequel to the Pillars of the Earth, and it is well worth the wait. Follett's narrative style includes the minutiae of many characters perspectives which he then ties together in a complex plot that has everybody somehow connected to everyone else. This book epitomizes the butterfly effect. Aside from the literary style, Follett provides a highly accurate picture of an English monastery, though his history does delve into the imaginative on some points. An excellent read; make sure you have enough time to finish this weighty tome.
Date published: 2008-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A WONDERFUL SEQUEL How excited I was when I saw that Ken Follett had written a sequel to Pillars of the Earth. I had to have it immediately!!! It is over a 1000 pages, and being a hard cover book it is very heavy (weighs a lot) but once I read the first sentence, I was hooked and I could not put it down. It was another wonderful love story. The charachters are so interesting and the story line is so interesting. I am only sorry that I finished it so quickly. I look forward to the conclusion of the trilogy. Let's hope that it does not take another eighteen years before the concluson.
Date published: 2007-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from And now to sleep... I read Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" several years ago from a recommendation from a co-worker. And when I say recommendation, I really mean order. It was one of those recommendations that you don't really question, because they are made so emphatically that you fear dangerous spasms if you don't follow through. So I read Pillars and I was floored! I was always under the assumption that Follett wrote action/suspense thrillers. You know, "dad books". I am not ashamed to admit that Pillars proved me wrong. It's been several years since I picked up Pillars of the Earth, but I still recalled how much I enjoyed it so when I saw "World Without End" for the first time, I knew that I would be reading this as soon as possible. The thing about both Pillars and World though, is that they aren't small books. Follett writes tomes. World comes in at over 1000 pages! But here's the great part, every single word, every single sentence, and every single page is worth it. Follett takes the world of historical fictional and wraps his readers in the lives of his characters. While I was reading World, there were many times that I deprived myself of sleep, simply because Follett leaves you always wanting more. World Without End is set in the same location as Pillars of the Earth, Kingsbridge Priory, two centuries later. Many of the townsfolk pride themselves on their lineage, not to the nobility of the area, but to the people who changed the face of Kingsbridge so many years ago. Once again Follett takes a selection of characters and melds their lives in such a matter that a simple sneeze can make a huge difference in everyone's lives. As in Pillars, Follett makes clear distinctions between his characters and their traits. As the scenes unfold the actions of the more despicable characters frequently interfere with the dreams of the honourable characters. In fact, you may want to find several people to read the book with you at the same time, because without fellow readers you will find it difficult to rant about the actions that make you so angry you want to yell. Be prepared to have dreams dashed, hopes cast aside and your blood boiled. In the end, I have to send out a huge thanks to that co-worker who insisted I read Pillars of the Earth. Without that recommendation I may never have picked up World Without End, and I really think my reading life would have suffered from that loss. And while it may have been several years since I picked up "Pillars of the Earth", and as amazing as that book was, I really think that Follett succeeded at besting himself with "World Without End". So do yourself a favour. Overlook the size of the book, ignore the fact I told you that you will likely lose sleep, and pick up these books. If nothing else, you will develop stronger arm muscles. But I think you will walk away with so much more than that.
Date published: 2007-10-28

Read from the Book

1Gwenda was eight years old, but she was not afraid of the dark.When she opened her eyes she could see nothing, but that was not what scared her. She knew where she was. She was lying on the floor in a bed of straw at Kingsbridge Priory, in the long stone building they called the hospital. Her mother lay next to her, and Gwenda could tell, by the warm milky smell, that Ma was feeding the new baby, who did not yet have a name. Beside Ma was Pa, and next to him Gwenda’s older brother, Philemon, who was twelve.The hospital was crowded, and though she could not see the other families lying along the floor, squashed together like sheep in a pen, she could smell the rank odor of their warm bodies. When dawn broke it would be All Hallows, a Sunday this year and therefore an especially holy day. By the same token the night before was All Hallows Eve, a dangerous time when evil spirits roamed freely. Hundreds of people had come to Kingsbridge from the surrounding villages, as Gwenda’s family had, to spend Halloween in the sanctified precincts of the priory, and to attend the All Hallows service at daybreak.Gwenda was wary of evil spirits, like every sensible person; but she was more scared of what she had to do during the service.She stared into the gloom, trying not to think about what frightened her. She knew that the wall opposite her had an arched window. There was no glass—only the most important buildings had glass windows—but a linen blind kept out the cold autumn air. However, she could not even see a faint patch of gray where the window should be. She was glad. She did not want the morning to come.She could see nothing, but there was plenty to listen to. The straw that covered the floor whispered constantly as people stirred and shifted in their sleep. A child cried out, as if woken by a dream, and was quickly silenced by a murmured endearment. Now and again someone spoke, uttering the half-formed words of sleep talk. Somewhere there was the sound of two people doing the thing parents did but never spoke of—the thing Gwenda called grunting because she had no other word for it.Too soon, there was a light. At the eastern end of the long room, behind the altar, a monk came through the door carrying a single candle. He put the candle down on the altar, lit a taper from it, and went around touching the flame to the wall lamps, his long shadow reaching up the wall each time like a reflection, his taper meeting the shadow taper at the wick of the lamp.The strengthening light illuminated on the floor rows of humped figures, wrapped in their drab cloaks or huddled up to their neighbors for warmth. Sick people occupied the cots near the altar, where they could get the maximum benefit from the holiness of the place. At the opposite end, a staircase led to the upper floor, where there were rooms for aristocratic visitors: the earl of Shiring was there now with some of his family.The monk leaned over Gwenda to light the lamp above her head. He caught her eye and smiled. She studied his face in the shifting light of the flame and recognized him as Brother Godwyn. He was young and handsome, and last night he had spoken kindly to Philemon.Beside Gwenda was another family from her village: Samuel, a prosperous peasant with a large landholding, and his wife and two sons, the youngest of whom, Wulfric, was an annoying six-year-old who thought that throwing acorns at girls and then running away was the funniest thing in the world.Gwenda’s family was not prosperous. Her father had no land at all, and hired himself out as a laborer to anyone who would pay him. There was always work in the summer, but after the harvest was gathered in and the weather began to turn cold, the family often went hungry.That was why Gwenda had to steal.She imagined being caught: a strong hand grabbing her arm, holding her in an unbreakable grip while she wriggled helplessly; a deep, cruel voice saying, “Well, well, a little thief”; the pain and humiliation of a whipping; and then, worst of all, the agony and loss as her hand was chopped off.Her father had suffered this punishment. At the end of his left arm was a hideous wrinkled stump. He managed well with one hand—he could use a shovel, saddle a horse, and even make a net to catch birds—but all the same he was always the last laborer to be hired in the spring, and the first to be laid off in the autumn. He could never leave the village and seek work elsewhere, because the amputation marked him as a thief, so people would refuse to hire him. When traveling, he tied a stuffed glove to the stump, to avoid being shunned by every stranger he met; but that did not fool people for long.Gwenda had not witnessed Pa’s punishment—it had happened before she was born—but she had often imagined it, and now she could not help thinking about the same thing happening to her. In her mind she saw the blade of the ax coming down on her wrist, slicing through her skin and her bones, and severing her hand from her arm so that it could never be reattached; and she had to clamp her teeth together to keep from screaming out loud.People were standing up, stretching and yawning and rubbing their faces. Gwenda got up and shook out her clothes. All her garments had previously belonged to her older brother. She wore a woolen shift that came down to her knees and a tunic over it, gathered at the waist with a belt made of hemp cord. Her shoes had once been laced, but the eyelets were torn and the laces gone, and she tied them to her feet with plaited straw. When she had tucked her hair into a cap made of squirrel tails, she had finished dressing.She caught her father’s eye, and he pointed surreptitiously to a family across the way—a couple in middle age with two sons a little older than Gwenda. The man was short and slight, with a curly red beard. He was buckling on a sword, which meant he was a man-at-arms or a knight: ordinary people were not allowed to wear swords. His wife was a thin woman with a brisk manner and a grumpy face. As Gwenda scrutinized them, Brother Godwyn nodded respectfully and said: “Good morning, Sir Gerald, Lady Maud.”Gwenda saw what had attracted her father’s notice. Sir Gerald had a purse attached to his belt by a leather thong. The purse bulged. It looked as if it contained several hundred of the small, thin silver pennies, halfpennies, and farthings that were the English currency—as much money as Pa could earn in a year if he had been able to find employment. It would be more than enough to feed the family until the spring plowing. The purse might even contain a few foreign gold coins, florins from Florence, or ducats from Venice.Gwenda had a small knife in a wooden sheath hanging from a cord around her neck. The sharp blade would quickly cut the thong and cause the fat purse to fall into her small hand—unless Sir Gerald felt something strange and grabbed her before she could do the deed….Godwyn raised his voice over the rumble of talk. “For the love of Christ, who teaches us charity, breakfast will be provided after the All Hallows service,” he said. “Meanwhile, there is pure drinking water in the courtyard fountain. Please remember to use the latrines outside—no pissing indoors!”The monks and nuns were strict about cleanliness. Last night, Godwyn had caught a six-year-old boy peeing in a corner, and had expelled the whole family. Unless they’d had a penny for a tavern, they would have had to spend the cold October night shivering on the stone floor of the cathedral’s north porch. There was also a ban on animals. Gwenda’s three-legged dog, Hop, had been banished. She wondered where he had spent the night.When all the lamps were lit, Godwyn opened the big wooden door to the outside. The night air bit sharply at Gwenda’s ears and the tip of her nose. The overnight guests pulled their coats around themselves and began to shuffle out. When Sir Gerald and his family moved off, Pa and Ma fell into line behind them, and Gwenda and Philemon followed suit.Philemon had done the stealing until now, but yesterday he had almost been caught, at Kingsbridge Market. He had palmed a small jar of expensive oil from the booth of an Italian merchant; then he had dropped the jar, so that everyone saw it. Mercifully, it had not broken when it hit the ground. He had been forced to pretend that he had accidentally knocked it off the stall.Until recently Philemon had been small and unobtrusive, like Gwenda, but in the last year he had grown several inches, developed a deep voice, and become awkward and clumsy, as if he could not get used to his new, larger body. Last night, after the incident with the jar of oil, Pa had announced that Philemon was now too big for serious thieving, and henceforth it was Gwenda’s job.That was why she had lain awake for so much of the night.Philemon’s name was really Holger. When he was ten years old, he had decided he was going to be a monk, so he told everyone he had changed his name to Philemon, which sounded more religious. Surprisingly, most people had gone along with his wish, though Ma and Pa still called him Holger.The family passed through the door and saw two lines of shivering nuns holding burning torches to light the pathway from the hospital to the great west door of Kingsbridge Cathedral. Shadows flickered at the edges of the torchlight, as if the imps and hobgoblins of the night were cavorting just out of sight, kept at a distance only by the sanctity of the nuns.Gwenda half expected to see Hop waiting outside, but he was not there. Perhaps he had found somewhere warm to sleep. As they walked to the church, Pa made sure they stayed close to Sir Gerald. From behind, someone tugged painfully at Gwenda’s hair. She squealed, thinking it was a goblin; but when she turned, she saw Wulfric, her six-year-old neighbor. He darted out of her reach, laughing. Then his father growled, “Behave!” and smacked his head, and the little boy began to cry.The vast church was a shapeless mass towering above the huddled crowd. Only the lowest parts were distinct, arches and mullions picked out in orange and red by the uncertain torchlight. The procession slowed as it approached the cathedral entrance, and Gwenda could see a group of townspeople coming from the opposite direction. There were hundreds of them, Gwenda thought, maybe thousands, although she was not sure how many people made a thousand, for she could not count that high.The crowd inched through the vestibule. The restless light of the torches fell on the sculpted figures around the walls, making them dance madly. At the lowest level were demons and monsters. Gwenda stared uneasily at dragons and griffins, a bear with a man’s head, a dog with two bodies and one muzzle. Some of the demons struggled with humans: a devil put a noose around a man’s neck; a foxlike monster dragged a woman by her hair; an eagle with hands speared a naked man. Above these scenes the saints stood in a row under sheltering canopies; over them the apostles sat on thrones; then, in the arch over the main door, St. Peter with his key and St. Paul with a scroll looked upward adoringly at Jesus Christ.Gwenda knew that Jesus was telling her not to sin, or she would be tortured by demons; but humans frightened her more than demons. If she failed to steal Sir Gerald’s purse, she would be whipped by her father. Worse, there would be nothing for the family to eat but soup made with acorns. She and Philemon would be hungry for weeks on end. Ma’s breasts would dry up, and the new baby would die, as the last two had. Pa would disappear for days, and come back with nothing for the pot but a scrawny heron or a couple of squirrels. Being hungry was worse than being whipped—it hurt longer.She had been taught to pilfer at a young age: an apple from a stall, a new-laid egg from under a neighbor’s hen, a knife dropped carelessly on a tavern table by a drunk. But stealing money was different. If she were caught robbing Sir Gerald, it would be no use bursting into tears and hoping to be treated as a naughty child, as she had once after thieving a pair of dainty leather shoes from a softhearted nun. Cutting the strings of a knight’s purse was no childish peccadillo—it was a real grown-up crime—and she would be treated accordingly.She tried not to think about it. She was small and nimble and quick, and she would take the purse stealthily, like a ghost—provided she could keep from trembling.The wide church was already thronged with people. In the side aisles, hooded monks held torches that cast a restless red glow. The marching pillars of the nave reached up into darkness. Gwenda stayed close to Sir Gerald as the crowd pushed forward toward the altar. The red-bearded knight and his thin wife did not notice her. Their two boys paid no more attention to her than to the stone walls of the cathedral. Gwenda’s family fell back and she lost sight of them.The nave filled up quickly. Gwenda had never seen so many people in one place: it was busier than the cathedral green on market day. People greeted one another cheerfully, feeling safe from evil spirits in this holy place, and the sound of all their conversations mounted to a roar.Then the bell tolled, and they fell silent.Sir Gerald was standing by a family from the town who all wore cloaks of fine cloth, so they were probably rich wool dealers. Next to the knight stood a girl about ten years old. Gwenda stood behind Sir Gerald and the girl. She tried to make herself inconspicuous but, to her dismay, the girl looked at her and smiled reassuringly, as if to tell her not to be frightened.Around the edges of the crowd, the monks extinguished their torches, one by one, until the great church was in utter darkness.Gwenda wondered if the rich girl would remember her later. She had not merely glanced at Gwenda, then ignored her, as most people did. She had noticed her, had thought about her, had anticipated that she might be scared, and had given her a friendly smile. But there were hundreds of children in the cathedral. She could not have got a very clear impression of Gwenda’s features in the dim light…could she? Gwenda tried to put the worry out of her mind.Invisible in the darkness, she stepped forward and slipped noiselessly between the two figures, feeling the soft wool of the girl’s cloak on one side and the stiffer fabric of the knight’s old surcoat on the other. Now she was in a position to get at the purse.She reached into her neckline and took the little knife from its sheath.The silence was broken by a terrible scream. Gwenda had been expecting it—Ma had explained what was going to happen during the service—but, all the same, she was shocked. It sounded like someone being tortured.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for World Without End: “[A] well-researched, beautifully detailed portrait of the late Middle Ages . . . Follett’s no-frills prose does its job, getting smoothly through more than a thousand pages of outlaws, war, death, sex, and politics to end with an edifice that is as well constructed and solid as Merthin’s bridge.” —The Washington Post “Follett tells a story that runs the gamut of life in the Middle Ages, and he does so in such a way that we are not only captivated but also educated. What else could you ask for?” —The Denver Post “So if historical fiction is your meat, here’s a rare treat. A feast of conflicts and struggles among religious authority, royal governance, the powerful unions (or guilds) of the day, and the peasantry . . . With World Without End, Follett proves his Pillars may be a rarity, but it wasn’t a fluke.” —New York Post “A work that stands as something of a triumph of industry and professionalism.”—The Guardian (UK) “The four well-drawn central characters will captivate readers as they prove to be heroic, depraved, resourceful, or mean. Fans of Follett’s previous medieval epic will be well rewarded.” —The Union (CA) “Populated with an immense cast of truly remarkable characters . . . this is not a book to be devoured in one sitting, tempting though that might be, but one to savor for its drama, depth, and richness.” —Library Journal “Readers will be captivated.” —Publishers Weekly