Skip to main content

Review: World Without End, by Ken Follett

World Without End is the story of several families in fourteenth century Kingsbridge, and a continuation of Pillars of the Earth. Pillars was about how the cathedral came to be; World Without End details the crumbling of medieval society as the town of Kingsbridge and its citizens witness the plague and the Hundred Years' War. Most of the characters are descended from Tom Builder's daughter, Martha.
Central to the plot are Caris, a young woman who enters the nunnery after an accusation of witchcraft; Merthin, who builds Kingsbridge's new bridge; his brother Ralph, who becomes a knight and has somewhat of a cruel streak; Godwin, the ambitious prior of Kingsbridge, who will let nothing stand in his way; Wulfric, a serf; and Gwenda, his wife.

The book has its good and bad points. Among the good: Ken Follett has a flair for detail, and he describes things with absolute precision. He's especially good with battle scenes, as in the scene where he describes the Battle of Crecy. Follett also does a fantastic job in drawing some of his characters, especially those of Godwin and Merthin.

The bad: Follett's adolescent-like fascination with sex. Some of the sex scenes are crude and laughable at times. Also, his characters seem almost too modern. Its one thing to use modern language, so that the average reader will understand the story better, but its another to make women and men of the fourteenth century do, say, and think things that wouldn't be typical of the period. Also, I thought Ralph's character was a little bit of a caricature. But in all, this book was an impressive effort, and a worthy sequel to Pillars of the Earth. I'd love it if Follett wrote another sequel, one that took place in the sixteenth century; it would be interesting to see how Kingsbridge Priory survives--or doesn't--the Reformation of King Henry VIII.
Also reviewed by: Maw Books


Lezlie said…
>>it would be interesting to see how Kingsbridge Priory survives--or doesn't--the Reformation of King Henry VIII<<

That would be very interesting! I would snap that one up in a heartbeat.

Have a great weekend!

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…