Title: World Without End
Author: Ken Follett
Publication Date: 2008 (2007)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Christmas Gift
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. (Goodreads Synopsis)
Having loved The Pillars of the Earth back in September 2009, I was looking forward to reading the sequel.
The second book certainly does not disappoint, with beautifully interwoven story lines and strong characters transporting us back to medieval Kingsbridge. I was really drawn into the lives and struggles of the people of the town and priory and the world was so meticulously built by Follett that you almost felt you were there with them.
At over 1200 pages, this is no quick read, but the story is so compelling that I found myself reading a hundred pages at a time and barely noticing.
Highly recommended for lovers of historical fiction. Since this book is set 200 years after its predecessor, there is no necessity to read Pillars first, but I would recommend it for two reasons.
1) While I loved this one, Pillars is the better book of the two
2) Events in Pillars are referred to loosely in this book and you might prefer to have that grounding in what has gone before.