Customer Reviews for

World Without End

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

31 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

I Didn't Want it to End

I read The Pillars of the Earth but surely don't remember it (I forget most of the books I read). I bought World Without End because I read everything by Ken Follett. When I saw how big it was 'over 1000 pages' I kept putting off reading it. I finally decided to take...
I read The Pillars of the Earth but surely don't remember it (I forget most of the books I read). I bought World Without End because I read everything by Ken Follett. When I saw how big it was 'over 1000 pages' I kept putting off reading it. I finally decided to take the plunge. This book was fantastic. I couldn't get enough of the characters. I cared about them, and loved some and hated others. I never wanted the book to end.

posted by Anonymous on September 16, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

36 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

High expectations left me a bit disappointed.

First off, Pillars of the Earth is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the politics and intrigue in that book. Expecting big things from a sequel that took over a decade to complete, I was hoping Follett would have the same types of subject matter. This book f...
First off, Pillars of the Earth is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the politics and intrigue in that book. Expecting big things from a sequel that took over a decade to complete, I was hoping Follett would have the same types of subject matter. This book follows descendants of the main characters of Pillars, focusing mostly on Merthin the builder and his brother Ralph. The book focuses more on graphic descriptions of sex, rape, and battles rather than the interesting politics and architecture of the times like Pillars. The plot twists are fairly predictable, and Follett really makes this a Job-like story of Merthin and Caris. That would be fine if he stopped after "twist" number 3, but continuously bringing in "challenges" for the main characters gets old after a while. When a character started getting uninteresting, Follett had the foresight to set his novel in the 1300s and would kill them off using the Black Plague.

Considering the book is over 1000 pages, I was really expecting him to go into detail the bridge architecture that his character envisions, or the tower, or the hospitals, or the palaces... He has the characters spend time in France and Italy, and barely even describes any of the architecture or lifestyle in those countries (conveniently one of the characters is bedridden in Italy, and there is plague and war in France). Instead, he focuses more on unrequited love, unimaginatively evil villains, an excessive number of graphic descriptions of sex and rape, and teenager-like descriptions of battles.

Characters are a pretty shallow - the heroes are obnoxiously saintly, and the villains are blatantly manipulative and evil. It's difficult to care much about the characters when they're so polarized. Plot is pretty basic - boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, plot twist 1, plague/war (plot twists 2-5), boy loses and regains girl and loses and regains girl, bad guys do bad things (big surprise - plot twists 6-12), everyone's happy, plot twist 13, plot from beginning of book is explained really quickly at the end.

All in all, I had high expectations for this book and was pretty disappointed when it turned into a pretty basic "good vs. evil" action/sex book. He certainly didn't need to make it 1000 pages long if that's what his aim was...

posted by chakosh on May 12, 2010

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    High expectations left me a bit disappointed.

    First off, Pillars of the Earth is one of my all-time favorite books. I loved the politics and intrigue in that book. Expecting big things from a sequel that took over a decade to complete, I was hoping Follett would have the same types of subject matter. This book follows descendants of the main characters of Pillars, focusing mostly on Merthin the builder and his brother Ralph. The book focuses more on graphic descriptions of sex, rape, and battles rather than the interesting politics and architecture of the times like Pillars. The plot twists are fairly predictable, and Follett really makes this a Job-like story of Merthin and Caris. That would be fine if he stopped after "twist" number 3, but continuously bringing in "challenges" for the main characters gets old after a while. When a character started getting uninteresting, Follett had the foresight to set his novel in the 1300s and would kill them off using the Black Plague.

    Considering the book is over 1000 pages, I was really expecting him to go into detail the bridge architecture that his character envisions, or the tower, or the hospitals, or the palaces... He has the characters spend time in France and Italy, and barely even describes any of the architecture or lifestyle in those countries (conveniently one of the characters is bedridden in Italy, and there is plague and war in France). Instead, he focuses more on unrequited love, unimaginatively evil villains, an excessive number of graphic descriptions of sex and rape, and teenager-like descriptions of battles.

    Characters are a pretty shallow - the heroes are obnoxiously saintly, and the villains are blatantly manipulative and evil. It's difficult to care much about the characters when they're so polarized. Plot is pretty basic - boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, plot twist 1, plague/war (plot twists 2-5), boy loses and regains girl and loses and regains girl, bad guys do bad things (big surprise - plot twists 6-12), everyone's happy, plot twist 13, plot from beginning of book is explained really quickly at the end.

    All in all, I had high expectations for this book and was pretty disappointed when it turned into a pretty basic "good vs. evil" action/sex book. He certainly didn't need to make it 1000 pages long if that's what his aim was...

    36 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    I Didn't Want it to End

    I read The Pillars of the Earth but surely don't remember it (I forget most of the books I read). I bought World Without End because I read everything by Ken Follett. When I saw how big it was 'over 1000 pages' I kept putting off reading it. I finally decided to take the plunge. This book was fantastic. I couldn't get enough of the characters. I cared about them, and loved some and hated others. I never wanted the book to end.

    31 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    EPIC ENTERTAINMENT!

    There is nothing I like more then finding a book I can really sink my teeth into. I love it when a book is so good I find myself thinking about it when I'm not reading it. I love when a book is an easy read not because the content is frivalous, but the writing is fluid and well paced. I love books that have epic story lines and diverse characters. I love historical fiction that is well researched but not "preachy". As a relatively slow reader, I love being able to read 100+ pages in one go without batting an eye. I love this book because it provides all these things. <BR/>If you're looking for a book with emotional depth and contemplative prose, move along. <BR/>If you're looking to invest yourself in a long and thrilling tale, look no further. <BR/>Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars <BR/>Suggested With: An oversized chair and a tankard of ale. ;)

    18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2008

    Magical!

    Wicked and heavenly. This novel is frosted with every element of powerful story telling. All one thousand pages. But don't be intimidated by the length. The book is chalk full of everything entertainingly medieval. In the small village of Kingsbridge you'll find the ultimate bad boys, Ralph and Godwyn, whom you'll love to hate, down to the ultra sweet Caris, falsely accused of witchcraft and forced to join a nunnery and leave her beloved Merthin behind. There is also the spunky and wise Gwenda to admire. She a peasant and friend of Caris, sold by her own father into prostitution for nothing more than a milk cow. Her only desire is to have some land and marry, Wulfric,the man she loves who just happens to love someone else. Follett slips you inside the mysterious world of nunneries and priory's where you'll find more sinners than saints. Outside to the colorful yet sad world of peasants, knights, lords and ladies. You'll discover how the plague wrenches the town inside out. Strange times, even stranger behavior. The Godly turn into saints, the wicked into complete devils. Do Caris and Gwenda get their dreams? Will the disturbing behavior of Ralph and Godwyn go unpunished? Can the town survive the plague? You'll have to buy the book to find out. Be ready for a mystical ride you won't soon forget! Dorraine Darden, Author of novel, Jack Rabbit Moon

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Outstanding Read!

    I ordered this book after completing Pillars of the Earth. I put off starting it because of the let down feeling I knew would come upon finishing. What could I possibly read to compare with this work of art? I finished it a couple of days ago and immediatly checked the Internet to see if there was another book in the works. No such luck. Come on Mr. Follett, it's been two years since this was written. You owe it to your fans not to stop there. I realize this takes a tremendous amount of research to write about this era, but you make it so mesmerizing and easy to follow. I have never lost so much sleep by reading far into the night, but would do it again as soon as your next book comes out. Thank you, thank you!
    Barbara Briggs
    Nampa ID

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 16, 2009

    How could you not give this five stars?

    I couldn't put this book down, and it was so heavy I could hardly hold it up, but it was worth the pain. Yes there were many similarities to "The Pillars of the Earth," but you become so invested in the lives of the people in both books you really do not want them to end. The research and imagination that went into both books is phenominal. I'm sorry you cannot write about just one. They are a pair. I wish they were quadruplets.

    I feel like a moron even trying to review this book. Who am I to review this? All I know is that I enjoyed every minute of the time it took to read this book. It was finished much too soon and I thank Mr. Follett for writing such a wonderful story, for so many wonderful stories. I highly recommend this book, I have recommended it to many people. They have all thanked me for the recommendation. It has provoked many discussions. I don't understand how anyone could give this less than five stars. Thank you for the opportunity to put in my two cents.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2009

    Good if you enjoy soap operas

    I started this book with great anticipation, but wound up disappointed. 1000 pages of soap opera was more than enough for me. Follett does a good job with period details, but the characters are one-dimensional and the plot too much of a soap opera.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 12, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Super historical fiction!

    Ken Follett has wriiten another super historicqal fiction in WORLD WITHOUT END. The main characters are brought to live vivitly in the first few paragraphs and you are taken back in time. To old England, the live and time are done very well, in graphic detail weaving a wonderful story of a Builder, a Knight, a Peasent and a woman merchant. I love the way Follett intersects all there lives with the main Church and the Priests and Nuns, the daily life of the time and the horrors that have shown as a people we have grown. I have read his past book, PILLARS OF THE EARTH and was hoping for the same caliber in this book. My hope fulfilled, WORLD is just a delicious as PILLARS. I like Follets writting so much that I have put him on my list of Authors aother books to read.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    world without end

    this was a very wouderful book to read.though longer than pillers of the earth this has made me a bigger ken follett fan

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    AMAZING!

    One of the best books I have ever read. Absolutely thrilling. This is what you would call a page turner

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2008

    One of the Best Novels Ever!

    Like the first book, Pillars of the Earth, this has a narrative packed with nonstop excitement and suspense. Set two hundred years after the first novel, it continues the story of the English town of Kingsbridge, in the late Middle Ages. Ken Follett delights us with vivid characterizations and has the reader rooting for the good guys. Some readers may be disconcerted by the contemporary dialogue - there isn't a 'mayhap' or a 'with child' to be found. Instead a character will say, 'Maybe she's pregnant.' Occasionally it goes a bit over the top. I doubt we would really hear any medieval individual accuse another with, 'She has constructed a fragile defense around her self-esteem, and you just tear it down.' But the author can be forgiven a small lapse here and there! Don't be put off by the 1,000+ pages, as the story flies by. Now, Mr. Follett, how about fast-forwarding another 200 years in your next novel, so we can find out what's going on in Kingsbridge during the Tudor era?

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2010

    On the fence with World Without End

    After reading Pillars of the Earth it is fair to say that I had very high expectations of Follett. I simply didn't want Pillars to end! So when I came across this sequel I snatched it up and began to read it immediately following Pillars. That was a mistake. Let me explain. I had fallen hopelessly in love with all of the characters of Pillars. I hoped they would be in this book and while their great-grandchildren are, the original cast is not. To jump forward 200 years messed with the flow for me. Preferably, I would have liked World Without End to pick up with the children of the main characters in Pillars. I found myself having to write a family tree of who in this book was related to whom in the first book. That was OK. But then the book just couldn't stack up to Pillars though it did come close enough that I would buy it again. I found the characters again either likeable or loathesome; it was not in the same distinct way. Each of the charactes in Pillars had very distinct personalities and made each character in WWE seem like a diluted version of their ancestors. I do appreciate how Follett can keep an entire village intertwined all at once weaving each of their stories into one another soap-opera style. He certainly has greatness within him as he proved in Pillars. Had I read World Without End first I probably would have loved it completely, though I wouldn't have understood some things, but it still fell slightly short, as sequels often do, of Pillars. I give Pillars an overall 5 and WWE an overall 4.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Disappointing Sequal

    This is a sequal that didn't need to be done. I did not feel like I was "in" the time setting. Truthfully it felt like a totally different person wrote this book then Pillars. If you want a good historical novel set during plague times - see Plague Tales or Doomsday Book.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wonderful! Everything you could want in a novel.

    At over one thousand pages, this sequel to Pillars of The Earth can seem quite daunting. Don't let the length put you off, I guarantee you'll hardly notice. The author keeps the book moving. Some reviews said that it was slow in parts, and I for one wondered where these parts were. It's an elaborate and interesting story revolving around the lives of four main characters, two female, two male. They live in hard times (fourteenth century) and life is constantly throwing them curveballs. Few books upset me the way this one did. Their lives are just so brutal! I would sit and stare at the book on the couch, knowing that their lives continued even as I avoided reading it, only because it moved me so much. I loved it and highly recommend it. I recommend it to family and friends all the time, and it is a permanent fixture on my bookshelf.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2010

    World Without End - an awesome read

    Ken Follet is one of my favorite writers. I read almost all of his book. World without end is a sequel for the The Pillars of The Earth. I absolutely recommend this book to any one who likes a really great story with characters that we won't want to forget.

    Sometimes I was wondering how Ken can think of so many twists and turns to write in his story. But he did. He manages to surprise me every time.

    Don't spoil your story by reading this book before you get a chance to read the first book. Make sure you finish all of your homework or house chores as you will not want to put it down. I must finish all of Ken's novel at one sitting. I read it all through the night.

    Highly recommended.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    World Without End is a stroke of brilliance.

    Having read the Pillars of the Earth I was worried whether Ken Follet would be able to follow up the novel with anything better. However, he pulled it off. World Without End is one of my favorite books, the plot development as well as the connection created between the numerous characters within the book is ingenious. Though the book is without doubt not for younger readers due to some graphic sexual content, it is without doubt a must read at some point in life. Definitely something to put on the reading list if you want a book that you can read again and again and still never want to put it down.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    The characters

    Everyday you find yourself waiting to get to and wondering what is going on in Kingsbridge! I would find myself thinking, "I wonder what ___ doing today." or "I wonder if ___ and ___ are going to get married.". It is just a fascinating book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    AS GOOD AS PILLARS OF THE EARTH!

    Just finished reading this today. It is quite lengthy (1014 pages), but worth the effort. If you loved "Pillars", you will love this one. The basic premise is the same as "Pillars", but the characters (200 years later) are different and of course, there are different circumstances at play. Ken Follett creates strong,believable characters, people you really want to root for and people you hate. He lets us know why they act as they do and the story line(s) are genuine. This story, is, I believe just the way things were in 14th century England where people did not live long, where life was hard for the serfs and peasants, and where the nobility enjoyed the good life. There is a lot to be learned from reading this book, and it is chocked full of historical and cultural material relative to the time (what they wore, what they ate, how their houses were built, how they worshipped, the role of the clergy, etc.). This is probably one more reason I loved the book, I tend to pick books based on historical material.

    All in all, if you like a really good story, easy to read yet detailed with characters that could be real, you will love this book. If you loved "Pillars", you will love this book. I could not wait to read it, and I was not disappointed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2011

    Not worth the read

    Having read two novels by Follett and being fully intrigued and inspired, I felt compelled to read the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth - World Without End. Although I wanted to know the story in its entirety, I was fully disappointed by this book. For the most part it seemed as Follett was trying too hard to write a sequel that readers were wanting. Right after putting down Pillars it was blatantly obvious how cheaply this book was written. There are new characters who are descendants of Prior Philip and of Jack and Aliena who are primary characters in this story. It appears as what Follett did was take the plights of his characters of his first story and shift them to new characters and tell what seemed to be another story but turned out to be the same story. Instead of a bishop who was blocking construction paths it was the prior Godwyn; instead of the desire to build a cathedral it was to build the tallest structure in all of England; and instead of a son and daughter of a disgraced Earl to regain their position it was a former Earl who imposes his youngest son to take back the earldom. The readers even follow characters through France, again. Only this time it's not a civil war but another power struggle. What's more is that just about everything is predictable that I almost put down the book and not finish it. Bottom line, I would not recommend reading this book unless you like to be spoon fed the same story with different names attached.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2010

    Mirror to Pillars of the Earth

    After the success of Pillars of the Earth, the author wrote this novel without originality. This novel mimicked Pillars. The story is similar with different characters and a different time. The hardships the main characters have are almost the same as Pillars. The story revolves around building a bridge rather than a cathedral. The recipe for this author's success: Write a good novel then make a sequel with a similar story to the first to have the same success. What nonsense. If you've read Pillars of the Earth...dont read this. It's the same story with a different cover.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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