Review of World Without End by Ken Follett

World Without End, Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth, Historical Fiction, Novel, Medieval History, Medieval EnglandSet in 14th century medieval England, World Without End by Ken Follett centers around the town of Kingsbridge and follows the lives of the descendants of Jack and Alien from Pillars of the Earth. Twenty years after Follett wrote Pillars of the Earth and after numerous requests from fans to write a sequel, Follett decided to revisit Kingsbridge, and in his latest historical fiction novel, he begins a new epic.

The Black Death lurks in the background of this tale, though aside from the major historical event, the story itself is not all that different from Pillars of the Earth. Many of the characters also mirror the characters in Pillars of the Earth — Merthin is Jack, Caris is Aliena, Ralph is William Hamleigh, Godwyn is Waleran.

What Follett does well is his ability to craft an intricate storyline with complex plots and twists, and his characters are multi-faceted, changing as the novel progresses for better or worse. Follett is able to establish a connection with his characters through good internal dialogue, and even though the reader doesn’t relate to the characters in World Without End as closely as in Pillars of the Earth, the characters are still interesting and engaging.

Like any historical fiction novel, World Without End takes its share of historical liberties, but I believe Follett’s greatest weaknesses in this particular novel are his lack of original characters (despite them being well-developed), his exchange of dialogue among the characters, as well characters’ motives for certain actions they take. As in Pillars of the Earth, Follett overuses the theme of sex — though the violent rape scense are less frequent — and in many instances, it seems it is put there just for the sake of having it, regardless if it makes sense for the scene or characters.

Overall, I rate this novel 3 out 5 stars. It’s worth the read, but unlike Pillars of the Earth, I’m not sure I would take the time to read it again.

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Steven

My life has been pretty simple. I grew up in Alabama and graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor's in Advertising. I have spent about the last ten years in web development. In 1998, a friend of mine and I started a web design company we ran for three or four years before deciding to close it due to the demands of school. Since then, I stayed in the web working with various companies in Alabama. I worked for a brief period with Southern Progress, namely with Southern Living magazine and Health magazine, in their web departments. While there, I also wrote for Southern Living magazine, Health.com., and the company's internal newsletter. I write as much as I can. For the last five years, I have been working on my first novel. I am on the third revision now and hope to be finished with this draft by the end of the year. I also write short fiction, though not as frequently as I used to due to the time I spend on the novel. My goal is to have my novel published in the next three years. Other interests include: History (particularly medieval and ancient civlizations), Reading, Foreign Language (I currently speak Spanish but plan to learn as many as I can), Landscape Photography, the outdoors, sports (especially college football), and Travel.

3 thoughts on “Review of World Without End by Ken Follett”

  1. I completely agree with the review by Steven. I enjoyed the Pillars of the Earth. The sequel (long awaited) was OK, but I had to force myself to finish it. Some parts are just there for the sake of having them. And I will not be rereading this novel.

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