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Bryan Bork
Bryan Bork

World Without End: The Bestselling Book by Ken Follett That Chronicles the 14th Century


Ken Follett World Without End Epub 61: A Review




If you are looking for an epic historical novel that spans centuries, continents, and generations, you might want to check out Ken Follett's World Without End. This is the second book in his Kingsbridge series, which follows the lives and fates of various characters in medieval England. In this review, I will give you a brief summary of the book, analyze its themes and symbols, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, and conclude with my personal opinion on whether it is worth reading or not.




ken follett world without end epub 61



Introduction




Ken Follett is a bestselling author who has written more than 30 books in various genres, such as thrillers, spy novels, historical fiction, and non-fiction. He is best known for his Kingsbridge series, which consists of four books: The Pillars of the Earth (1989), World Without End (2007), A Column of Fire (2017), and The Evening and The Morning (2020). These books are set in different periods of history, but they all share a common location: Kingsbridge, a fictional town in England.


World Without End is set in the 14th century, during one of the most turbulent times in European history. The book covers events such as the Hundred Years' War, the Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, and the Papal Schism. It also depicts the social, political, religious, and economic changes that occurred during this era.


The book follows four main characters who grow up together in Kingsbridge: Merthin, a talented builder; Caris, a rebellious wool merchant's daughter; Gwenda, a poor peasant girl; and Ralph, Merthin's ambitious brother. Their lives are intertwined by love, friendship, rivalry, betrayal, and destiny.


The main thesis or argument of this review is that World Without End is an engaging and informative historical novel that offers a vivid portrayal of life in medieval England. However, it also has some flaws that may affect its appeal for some readers.


Summary




The book begins in 1327, when King Edward II is deposed by his wife Isabella and her lover Roger Mortimer. A young Merthin witnesses this event while working as an apprentice builder at Shiring Castle. He also meets Caris, who is visiting the castle with her father. They are both fascinated by each other, but their social status prevents them from pursuing a relationship.


The book then jumps to 1337, when the Hundred Years' War between England and France begins. Merthin returns to Kingsbridge after traveling abroad and becomes a master builder. He hopes to marry Caris, but she has other plans. She wants to become a doctor and a leader of the town. She also opposes the corruption and tyranny of the church and the nobility, especially the ruthless Earl of Shiring, Ralph.


Gwenda, who is in love with Merthin's friend Wulfric, is forced to marry another man by her father. She suffers from abuse and poverty, but she never gives up on her dreams. She also becomes involved in the wool trade, which is the main source of income for Kingsbridge.


Ralph, who is envious of Merthin's success and Caris's affection, joins the army and rises through the ranks. He becomes a cruel and violent lord, who exploits and oppresses his tenants and enemies. He also lusts after Gwenda, who he rapes several times.


The book then covers the period from 1348 to 1361, when the Black Death sweeps across Europe and kills millions of people. The plague causes social upheaval and challenges the authority of the church and the nobility. Many people lose their faith and turn to superstition and fanaticism. Others demand more rights and freedoms from their rulers.


Merthin and Caris face many obstacles and dangers in their quest for love and happiness. They also have to deal with the scheming and hostility of Ralph, who tries to ruin their lives. They also have to cope with the loss of many friends and family members due to the plague.


The book ends in 1361, when a new outbreak of the plague threatens Kingsbridge. Merthin and Caris finally get married and become the leaders of the town. They also manage to defeat Ralph, who is killed by Gwenda's son. Gwenda and Wulfric also find happiness together after overcoming many hardships. The book ends with a hopeful note that a new era of peace and prosperity is coming for Kingsbridge and England.


Analysis




One of the main themes of World Without End is the conflict between progress and tradition. The book shows how the 14th century was a time of great change and innovation in various fields, such as architecture, medicine, trade, politics, and religion. However, it also shows how these changes were met with resistance and opposition by those who clung to the old ways and feared losing their power and privilege.


For example, Merthin represents progress in his field of building. He designs and constructs new structures that are more efficient, beautiful, and durable than the ones before. He also introduces new techniques and materials that improve the quality of his work. However, he faces opposition from his rivals, such as Elfric Builder and Godwyn Prior, who are jealous of his skills and try to sabotage his projects. They also accuse him of heresy and blasphemy for challenging the authority of the church.


Similarly, Caris represents progress in her field of medicine. She studies anatomy, surgery, pharmacology, and hygiene from various sources, such as books, travelers, Jews, and Muslims. She also experiments with new methods and remedies that cure diseases and save lives. However, she faces opposition from her enemies, such as Ralph Earl of Shiring and Philemon Monk, who are threatened by her intelligence and independence. They also accuse her of witchcraft and sorcery for defying the dogmas of the church.


Another theme of World Without End is the struggle for justice and equality. The book shows how the 14th century was a time of great injustice and inequality in society, especially between the rich and the poor, the nobles and the peasants, the men and the women, and the Christians and the non-Christians. However, it also shows how these injustices led to rebellions and revolutions that challenged the status quo.


For example, Gwenda represents justice in her fight for survival. She suffers from poverty, hunger, violence, rape, discrimination, and oppression throughout her life. However, she never gives up on her dignity or her dreams. She also fights back against her abusers and oppressors whenever she can. She also joins forces with other peasants who demand more rights and freedoms from their lords.


FAQ




Here are some frequently asked questions about World Without End and their answers:



  • Is World Without End a standalone book or part of a series?



World Without End is part of the Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett, which consists of four books: The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, A Column of Fire, and The Evening and The Morning. However, each book can be read as a standalone book, as they are set in different periods of history and feature different characters and stories.


  • Do I need to read The Pillars of the Earth before reading World Without End?



No, you do not need to read The Pillars of the Earth before reading World Without End, as they are not directly connected or dependent on each other. However, you may enjoy reading The Pillars of the Earth first, as it introduces the Kingsbridge setting and some of the ancestors and predecessors of the characters in World Without End. You may also appreciate some of the references and parallels between the two books.


  • How accurate is World Without End in terms of history and facts?



World Without End is based on extensive research and consultation with experts and historians. The book is accurate in terms of the major events and issues that occurred in the 14th century, such as the Hundred Years' War, the Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, and the Papal Schism. The book also incorporates many historical figures and facts into the story, such as King Edward III, Queen Philippa, Geoffrey Chaucer, John Wycliffe, Thomas Becket, and the Knights Templar. However, the book also takes some liberties and creative license with some details and aspects, such as the names, dates, locations, relationships, motivations, and actions of some characters and events. The book also reflects some of the author's views and interpretations of history and society.


  • How violent is World Without End in terms of content and language?



World Without End contains many scenes and descriptions of violence, such as wars, battles, murders, rapes, tortures, executions, and diseases. The book also contains some profanity and sexual content. The book does not shy away from showing the brutality and cruelty of life in medieval times. However, the book also shows the resilience and compassion of human nature. The book is intended for mature readers who can handle such content.


  • How long is World Without End in terms of pages and hours?



World Without End is a very long book, with more than 1000 pages. The book may take several days or weeks to finish reading depending on your reading speed and schedule. The book is also available as an audiobook that lasts about 45 hours. The book may seem daunting and tedious for some readers who prefer shorter and faster-paced books. However, the book may also seem rewarding and satisfying for some readers who enjoy immersive and comprehensive books.


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