Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Review: World Without End (2007) by Ken Follett

Ken Follett, World Without End (2007)

World Without End (2007)
Ken Follett

Ken Follett's book World Without End is the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, which I have since read, and which is indeed a good read. World Without End is a very large and very ambitious book that feels as if it's intended to be a classic but, for me, it falls short. Follett has a gift for populating the fictitious town of Kingsbridge with an assortment of truly despicable characters, but I found it took me some time to learn to like the handful of decent folk at the heart of this novel.

The sweep of the tale is quite broad, but it's almost all dour and serious, with little or no humor. The writing tends to be dry and straightforward, spelling it all out for you even in those instances in which you don't need it. But, below the surface, I fear there's not much there. That said, despite a few truly improbable plot elements, the book did get steadily more engrossing as it went along. Follett is very good at holding a complex tale together, and he is punctilious about explaining the motivations of his characters, be they virtuous or evil. After all the calamity, the various plot lines resolve quite satisfactorily, and this huge tome ends winningly on a soaring note.

Note:  My brief book review of Ken Follett's Fall of Giants (2010) is here.


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