Saturday, October 27, 2012

As it is Now and Ever Shall Be

World Without End by Ken Follett is the enormous sequel to Follett's earlier BFB, Pillars of the Earth.  In Pillars, Jack Builder struggled to build a cathedral in Kingsbridge.  World begins 300 years after Pillars ends and includes people who think, but seem to be not quite sure, that they are Jack's descendants.

World opens with four children running off into the woods together.  The children are Gwenda, the daughter of a poor laborer; Caris, the daughter of a wealthy merchant; and Ralph and Merthin, the sons of a knight who has fallen on hard times.  While in the woods, the children accidentally save a knight from being murdered.  This knight, Thomas Langley, is injured in the fighting, and seeks sanctuary in the Kingsbridge cathedral.  After all of the children except Merthin run off, Thomas buries a letter, and tells Merthin that if anything ever happens to him, he should bring the letter to a priest. 

Throughout the next 1000 pages, the children grow up, and to some extent, prosper, and Thomas becomes a monk.  The book is divided into four parts.  The first focuses mainly on efforts to build a new bridge to Kingsbridge.  The next is about power struggles between the priory and the businessmen of Kingsbridge.  The third is the longest part, and it is about the toll that the Black Plague takes on the people of the town.  The fourth and final part wraps everything up, so that justice is finally served.

I delayed reading World because I had heard that it was not as good as Pillars, and I didn't love Pillars.  However, I think that I liked World  more.  All of the characters were well developed, and while some were not at all likable, they were consistent.  Follett recently came out with a new book, Winter of the World, which is set in the time of World War II.  I am definitely interested in that one because I love books of that period.  However, it is the second in a trilogy, and so I feel like I should read the first, Fall of Giants before its sequel.  I liked World so much, that I'm ready to put Fall of Giants on my TBR list, even though it's another 960 pages.

I started off listening to the book on CD, and it was taking forever!  When I finally started reading when I was home, and listening while I was driving, the book went really fast.  I found that if I read at night for a half hour or 45 minutes, I could cover as much material as was on a disc, which lasted an hour and 15 minutes.  This was probably because of the dramatic way in which the story was read.  However, the reader wasn't cheesy, and it was nice listening, if you have 45 hours to spare.

That's the penultimate book for the Off the Shelf Challenge!  I love that word, penultimate . . . and I love being almost done!

Next up on CD:  The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

Next up on Paper:  Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller

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