Monday, February 1, 2010

World Without End (2007)

Ken Follett has created another historical fiction masterpiece taking place in 14th century England. As in his other book, Pillars of the Earth, we become acquainted with people from the lowest to the highest, the best and the worst, men and women.

Our two central characters are brothers, Ralph and Merthin. Ralph is, to say the least, cruel. His only joy is inflicting shame, pain, and insult. Merthin, on the other hand, is intelligent and driven to build. His goal is to build the highest cathedral in England. His ideas for constructing bridges and hospitals are inspired but they don't jive with the goals of others, in particular the monks of Kingsbridge.

Women feature prominently in this book, in particular Caris, a bright and caring woman who saves more people from the plague than the aforementioned monks would like to admit.
Merthin went to work with speed and energy. He built cofferdams around the two
problem piers, drained the dams, and began to fill the piers with the piles of
large rough stones he had envisaged from the start. Finally, he would remove
Elfric's ugly iron braces and fill the cracks with mortar. Provided the repaired
foundations were sound, the cracks would not reopen.
But the job he really wanted was the rebuilding of the tower.
It would not be easy. He would have to get his design accepted by the priory the parish guild, currently run by his two worst enemies, Godwin and Elfric. And Godwyn would have to find the money.

Both of these books are massive. World Without End is just over 1000 pages. One feature that makes them fast readers is that the language used by the characters is modern and familiar to the reader. The reader will become intimately involved with the characters and their complicated interactions and feel totally satisfied when the book is finished. I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction.

My rating for this book: +++++

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