In case you’d noticed that I haven’t been on wordpress much of late, this is the book you can blame for my absence, World Without End. With it’s 7 parts, 92 chapters and over 1200 pages spanning 20 years, it’s taken a week to get through – but it’s been a pleasure. Here’s my ‘review’, of sorts.
This is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, which I read a couple of years ago. Both are set in English town Kingsbridge, and centre around the building of a great cathedral, and how this impacts the lives of those involved, and subsequently in book 2, what the town and priory is like two centuries later. Both are packed with relationships (of all kinds) family, history, conflicts, drama and passion.
Why should I read these books (Pillars of the Earth and World Without End)?
- The characters are complex and very human. Those who are great are so great you love them, and share in their joys, triumphs and falls. Those characters that you hate, you wish painful deaths upon. Follet has the ability to connect the reader entirely to the characters; you’re not simply listening to somebody else’s story – you’re involved in it.
- The point of view jumps from character to character, and far from being annoying, this gives the stories a rounded, omniscient feel while still written in first person.
- There is enough sex, power struggles, murder, deceit, war, problems, drama and love affairs to keep you entertained – and none of it is forced or purposefully included to keep you turning, it’s all woven into the story for a reason and again, keeps the plot and characters very human and relatable, in a modern world to past centuries way.
- The stories are long, but once you’ve started you won’t be able to stop – the size is not off-putting once you begin – it’s reassuring that it’s not going to end soon!
- The length does not mean it’s a ‘hard’ book – you’ll find yourself remembering every character, no matter how small a role they play, and you’ll remember all the events without much worry.
- The length also betrays the speed at which the story often moves – the pace is mostly quick.
- I’m certain that anybody who reads this will groan in acknowledgement of this one; some characters are so hateful, and get everything they want so often, that you’ll be yelling at the book something like, “somebody kill this bastard already!”
- The length of the sequel “World Without End” is about 300 words too long, though I am unsure which part of the story could be removed to shorten it. You’ll keep reading, though.
- The length means they’re quite big, bulky books, so if you’re looking for something to read on public transport make sure you buy the kindle version (if you have one) otherwise save it for holidays. I hear you ask, “Why not just leave it at home instead of reading it on the train?” And I laugh knowingly, you won’t be able to put it down that long.
- If you’re not a fan of the church / Christianity to an extent that it would ruin a story for you, steer clear – most of the main characters in these are tied to the church in some way, in fact the building of a cathedral and then the running of it are at the centre of both novels, and there more monks and nuns than I can remember.
Who would these be suited to?
- Readers who love breadth, complexities and large time periods
- Those interested in the 1100’s and 1300’s – centuries the books are set in. Those interested in these medieval-esque dramas: knights, earls, kingdoms, monks, ladies, peasants, etc
- Anybody with a love for a fast moving story over a slower, undercurrent main goal(s)
- Readers who don’t want their novels to end too soon
- Women who like to read strong female characters
- Readers who like detail in the prose, without it being overwhelming
By the way, if for some reason you can’t begin with Pillars of the Earth, don’t sweat it! World Without End is set two centuries after the first, and the only ties to the first are the setting, and a few descendants of the original characters – both stories can stand alone, though it is nice to read them both in order.
Did anybody else either enjoy or dislike these novels? Let me know why!