At last, here it is. Although the two novels may be listened to in any order, 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.
Three years in the writing, World Without End once again shows that Ken Follett is a masterful author writing at the top of his craft.
Listen to The Pillars of the Earth.
©2007 Ken Follett; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
"Fans of Follett's previous medieval epic will be well rewarded." (Publishers Weekly)
For anyone who recently read or listened to Pillars of the Earth, I would suggest waiting a while before starting World Without End. I just listened to the first one two months ago, and I wish I had waited at least year before listening to the second.
At first, I felt as if Follett had used up all his ideas about basic personality traits and plot ideas in Pillars, and in the second book just mixed them around, assigning them to different characters (good monk becomes bad monk, bullying, jealous builder (Alfred) appears in a new family, etc). The plot "twists," this time much more predictable, and other obstacles were also all too familiar, but each with a new outcome or resolution. After about 20 hours of that, the plot finally took off and became a new story in its own right, and it was a lot more interesting and engrossing. Since it's so long, that still left me with about 30 good hours, but it would have been a lot more enjoyable if my memory of the first book had been dimmer.
Pillars of the Earth is a very entertaining and compelling story told with great narration, but this book is almost a mirrow image of the above mentioned book, narration is good, story is very similar.
If you listen to one, perhaps you should by-pass the second one, in my opinion, Pillars of the Earth is by far the better book
I'm an audiobook nerd living in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the time of writing, I'm approaching 400 audiobooks.
If you have read or listened to “Pillars of The Earth”, you will not be disappointed with World Without End. It is yet another masterpiece from Ken Follett that – despite its length – is an easy and rewarding experience. No other author can mix history, drama, love, battle and suspense like him.
World without End follows a number of characters in Kingsbridge during 40 years – beginning approximately 200 years after the end of Pillars of the Earth. It is therefore not a prerequisite to have read this book first.
I have now almost 200 audio books under my belt – and this is one of the best ones. After the usual first listening hour with confusions about all the characters that are introduced, the remaining 47 hours is pure and utter joy.
I really look forward to a third book about Kingsbridge – which Ken Follett has indicated might come in a few years.
I almost forgot: The narrator John Lee is just outright brilliant, with his pleasant and mellow voice.
I have been a Ken Follett fan since the first time I picked up one of his thrillers and Pillars of the Earth has been one of my favorites. Now I have a new favorite. The richness of the characters as well as the historical detail have me hooked. I am almost done listening and will listen again just to enjoy all the nuances of the richly developed characters.
Pillars has been my favorite book of all time since I first read it 7 years ago. WWE does not disappoint. I love Ken's books for the rich charecter development and strong females, who I can relate to, who question and reject irrational tradition in favor of scientific, logical reasoning. The historical aspects make the book so fascinating. I wish it was a book "without end", because I was sad to have finished it. My new favorite book.
The book has many of the virtues and flaws of Pillars of the Earth, but the story seems less inspired, more like Follet is using the same pattern without the same inspiration.
Overall, his setting, as in the first book, is impressive, and he has successfully advanced the setting to the 14th century. His understanding of architecture and building techniques are just as intricate as Pillars, and his knowledge of the economy and law of the fourteenth century medieval village is more sophisticated than his previous work, and he creates dramas that impressively illustrate and enlighten dry medieval economics and law. Well worth the read.
The characters and stories and dramas, though, sound more like he's trying to recreate "Pillars of the Earth" than like he was inspired to create something new. Same complicated romances, same manipulative power struggles, same unconscionably ambitous nobles and clergy. They are good stories, but even more superficial than in the first, and just as 20th century, rather than medieval.
His characters do deal with specifically fourteenth century medieval issues in this book, such as the changing roles of women in society, or the transition from superstition to a more scientific world view. This is well done especially in the sections about the Black Death.
Some reviews have said Caris seems too modern, but there were women in that era struggling for more independence. Women in fourteenth century towns were guild members and business owners and council members, and maybe even fighters, and often female monasteries offered a path to power that women couldn't find in the secular world, and nuns were conscious of this role, judging from medieval sources. Follet did his research there.
Overall, good research, good medieval setting, but somewhat mechanical storytelling.
I debated buying this because of the lenght, don't worry about it. Ken Follet does and excellent job of keeping the story line going.
Pillars of the Earth is one of my all time favoite books and this one is as good as Pillars.
While the first book might have been believable, assuming certain suspension of disbelief, here the main characters are XXI century creatures masquerading for medieval monks and nuns. Characters are two-dimensional, bad ones are cartoonish incapable of good deeds, while good ones are painfully anachronistic. The author's understanding of the period is sadly misguided, for example it is rather unlikely that XIV century wealthy person would want to go to a hospital, unless of course the reason was to commit a suicide. Finally, the actions moves in a cyclic and quite tiresome manner. The only good thing is that the story is engaging and moving forward in a steady pace, so as long as one does not treat the medieval setting too seriously, the plot line can be quite engaging.
I'm not sure how I can adequately express just how much I enjoyed this book. I was slightly put off by the length - not sure if I could get through 40 hours. By the end, I was slightly sad to realize my time with this fascinating community of people was coming to an end. I read "The Pillars of the Earth" many years ago, so I can't make too much of a close comparison. This book accurately portrays like in Medieval England, from food and housing to medicine and lifestyles. The story deals with a time of change - not only the beginning of the 100 Years War, but the end of the Dark Ages, and a huge change in labor and aristocracy brought on by the beginning of the Plague.
Well worth the time and such and enjoyable book. The characters are real and believeable, and you'll find yourself sad to leave Kingsbridge once again at the end.
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