Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2)” as Want to Read:
World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

World Without End

(Kingsbridge #2)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  229,981 ratings  ·  12,541 reviews
Librarian's note: An alternate cover edition can be found here

World Without End takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and reve
Hardcover, 1014 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Dutton
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about World Without End, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Taryn Braband Not necessary at all. However, Pillars of the Earth is SUCH a wonderful book that I do recommend reading them in order. You'll enjoy the entire series…moreNot necessary at all. However, Pillars of the Earth is SUCH a wonderful book that I do recommend reading them in order. You'll enjoy the entire series.(less)
Metzie http://ken-follett.com/news/
A Column of Fire will be published in September 2017

Ken's next novel, A Column of Fire, will form one of the 'Kingsbridge'…more
A Column of Fire will be published in September 2017

Ken's next novel, A Column of Fire, will form one of the 'Kingsbridge' series, with The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. It will be published in September 2017.

"It is a spy story set in the sixteenth century, during the reign of Elizabeth I of England." Ken says." There were many assassination plots against the Queen, so the people around her set up an espionage system to foil those sixteenth century terrorists. This was the beginning of the British secret service that eventually gave us James Bond."

The story begins in 1558 where the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty, and love.... The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else — no matter what the cost.

Will Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious divide sweeping across the country, Will goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service, to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Will and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.

A Column of Fire will be published in the United States and Canada on 12 September 2017 by Viking Books, a Penguin Random House imprint. It will be published in Spanish in the autumn of 2017 by Plaza & Janés, an imprint of Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial.

Much of the novel is set in Kingsbridge, but part of the action takes place in Seville, Spain.

Viking Books

Plaza & Janés


Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  229,981 ratings  ·  12,541 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2)
Emily May
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, 2017
We who are born poor have to use cunning to get what we want. Scruples are for the privileged.

I must confess-- I am addicted to these Ken Follett novels. I finished World Without End and had to pick up A Column of Fire immediately. I'm also going to get to his Century trilogy at some point. These books are bloodstained historical soap operas and I just can't get enough.

Follett knows how to create exactly the right amount of drama and set it to the gory backdrop of history. I've always loved
Put some towels down because I sense a fully formed gush geyser about to spill all over this review. This book was fantastic and really did it for me. I loved it, all 1000+ pages, and I wouldn’t have minded if it was considerably longer (TWSS).

After more than loving The Pillars of the Earth (that’s right, I lurved it), I had tall hopes for this sorta sequel and let me tell you it was more than up to the task.

I was parched and hungry for a good meaty read. Well consider me gorged and my story
Oct 10, 2007 rated it it was ok
This "companion" novel to Follett's 1989 classic The Pillars of the Earth is set in the same community, 200 years later. I'd been excited about it ever since I heard it was coming out this fall - Maybe too excited, because it just didn't live up to my expectations.

The first half of the book seemed a sort-of ho-hum retread of "Pillars". In place of Jack Builder, we have his look-alike great-great-great-many-times-over grandson, Merthin. Instead of Aliena, we get Caris (who I wanted to slap severa
Sean Barrs
Jan 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Here’s a book that completely copies the first book in the series. Here’s a book that follows the same sense of narrative progression, character development and resolution as it predecessor. It is one who's characters bear a striking resemblance to their ancestors in terms of individual personality and their place within the story; yet, for all the repetition, Follett churns out an equally as engrossing story as that of The Pillars of the Earth.

What have I to complain about? This is one of those
Dana Ilie
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
World Without End is written in the third person but isn't choppy like some third person books are. I loved that we get to see the characters grow up and mature. They all encounter hardships (war, death, disappointed hopes and dreams, the black plague) but never stop fighting and never give up hope.

I really enjoyed reading about the advances in medicine and what people believed to be cures (bloodletting, poultices made with dung, balancing the "humours" of the body). Physicians believed that di
Alex Telander
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
WORLD WITHOUT END BY KEN FOLLETT: There are books that you read, with vaguely interesting stories, that sometimes within less than a month have been forgotten, ignored, barely recollected except for title, author and a minor recall of plot. Then there are books that change your mind on life, that give you a thrill as you read them and think about how much you’re loving to read this particular book, and how it’s making such an impression on you, and how you’re going to remember it for a long part ...more
Dan Schwent
Set two centuries after Pillars of the Earth, the people of Kingsbridge are at it again. The cathedral built in Pillars is in disrepair after part of the roof caved in, the bridge collapsed, and the prior is dead. Also, the constant maneuvering continues...

So, I fell into a trap with this one. After devouring Dinocalypse Now in a morning, my girlfriend asked if I managed to read an entire book in four hours. I said I had and she slammed me with this, saying it shouldn't take me more than a few d
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok
World Without End, a follow-up to Ken Follett’s surprise bestseller Pillars of the Earth, steals a page from the Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure playbook. A motley collection of insipid characters – if possible, even stupider and less realistic than Bill & Ted – get into a time machine and travel back to year 1327 and the village of Kingsbridge…

Wait. Oh, wait.

There are no time machines? The characters in World Without End are supposed to represent actual people from the 14th century?


Aug 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
5 stars to Ken Follett's World Without End. One of my favorite books of all time... I was just mesmerized by the characters and everything they went thru. It is a MUST read.

It's a long read, and it takes place hundreds of years ago, but if you can handle the primitive nature of the timeline, the various plots and subplots will astound you. Amazing.

I kept getting angry at all the tragedy thrown at the two main characters. How could they suffer so much. And for years. I'll stop there as I don't wa
La Petite Américaine
In all practical theory, this book should be on my 'Sucked' shelf. It's a tale of the Middle Ages, the gross injustices of the time, and it truly amounts to a thousand-page Medieval soap opera. It hasn't got much to do with its predecessor The Pillars of the Earth , except that it's in the same location 200 years later, with characters that are "descendants" of the Pillars characters. There's none of the complex building and architectural aspects found in Pillars, the graphic sex and violence ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
Follett finally completed the sequel to his evergreen historical novel, The Pillars of the Earth, and although I was compelled by the story enough to read all 1024 pages in a week, I was saddened at how poorly the book compares with its predecessor.

It is interesting to consider the nearly 20 years between the first book and this sequel. Many things have changed in our culture since then, leading Follett to inject even more egregious anachronisms into this book than the first. For example, the ch
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After a lengthy hiatus Ken Follett returns to the series with a second epic tome, (if you pardon the pun) building on the Kingsbridge Cathedral theme laid out in Pillars of the Earth. It is now the mid-1300s, two centuries after Tom Builder, Jack, Aliena, and Prior Phillip helped shape this community. Their presence is felt through ancestral breadcrumbs and mentioned throughout the complex narrative that seeks to breathe new life into Kingsbridge. The narrative develops early with the emergence ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A truly delightful read. I really enjoyed the background of the story; the characters (mostly) and how Follett used the story (1300's) to show emerging attitudes ie to the church and medicine.
The setting is 1300s in the reign of Edward 11. We see the changing of people's attitudes. This is shown mostly in treatment of the sick, attitude to land usage and the power of the church and state.
The emergence of sick people treatment from bleeding and dung mixture wound treatments: to treatment with cl
Apr 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Well, Pillars of the Earth is one of my favorite books and I was looking forward to completely enjoying this without reservation. But way back when it first came out, I stumbled onto an online discussion that cited a passage with anachronistic vocabulary, which bothered me. It was very anachronistic. So it was a single passage, but it added some reservation to my anticipated complete enjoyment. And then I got to page 15, and there's this conversation that no two people would ever have under any ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Follet conjures up another masterpiece with World Without End, as he achieves near-nirvana by writing a spellbinding story that is captivating from page 1 until 1000!

I was just a lonely lad, ignorant to the brilliance of Ken Follett until my father suggested I read Pillars of the Earth. My world just about shattered!! ‘Pillars’ is easily one of my top 5 fav books of all times! In ‘Pillars’, we see Follett’s genius shine on: the story is so captivating, with strong willed characters and narrati
Ahmad Sharabiani
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
World Without End (Kingsbridge #2), Ken Follett
World Without End is a best-selling 2007 novel by Welsh author Ken Follett. It is the second book in the Kingsbridge Series, and is the sequel to 1989's The Pillars of the Earth. The novel begins in the fictional city of Kingsbridge, England in the year 1327. Four children - Merthin, Caris, Gwenda, and Merthin's brother Ralph - head into the woods on All Hallows Day. Together the children witness two men-at-arms killed in self-defence by Sir Thomas

Oh, what a long read it was, but no regrets - the book is really good. I was fascinated reading The Pillars of the Earth and "World Without End" enchanted me from the first pages.
„World Without End“ is considered the sequel to „Pillars of the Earth“, though none of the original characters reappear. However the descendants of the main family in “Pillars of the Earth” gather to tell the new story about Kingsbridge and the people tied to it. Beginning two centuries after "The Pillars of the Earth"
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 2 in the Knightsbridge series first published 2007.

Calling this a book would be a mistake; it’s a tome, but a highly entertaining tome for sure.

In reality what this is, is a medieval version of ‘The Bold and The Beautiful’. For those of you that are unfamiliar with this TV show it’s a daytime soap opera.

This book has all the ingredients that make for a successful soap opera. There is murder, lying, cheating, conniving, back stabbing, lots of bastards, the biblical and non biblical types, gr
Dave Edmunds
Jan 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing

"As it was in the beginning
it is now and ever shall be
World Without End

Initial Thoughts

Ken Follett is back and my word does he mean business with his sensational sequel to his historical blockbuster "Pillars of the Earth."  The first was a book that took my breath away. Easily one of my top reads of 2021 and I was fired up for some more high stakes historical fiction. Would it live up to Pillars of the Earth? Probably not, but I was expecting big things.

The first installment was
Feb 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
One of my book clubs selected this as we had all read and loved Pillars of the Earth when it came out 20 years ago.

I got halfway through this tome and decided I didn't want to waste another moment of my life on a book which failed on so many counts. The characters didn't seem real and certainly didn't elicit any sympathy from this reader as they moved from one contrived crisis to the next, the writing was repetitive and juvenile (a gifted high school student could write better), the language wa
Corey Woodcock
Dec 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“The hospital was full again. The plague, which had seemed to retreat during the first three months of 1349, came back in April with redoubled virulence. On the day after Easter Sunday, Caris looked wearily at the rows of mattresses crammed together in a herringbone pattern, packed so tightly that the masked nuns had to step gingerly between them. Moving around was a little easier, however, because there were so few family members at the bedsides of the sick. Sitting with a dying relative was ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-5-star
Set in fourteenth century, Kingsbridge is a prosperous town. Merthin and Ralph go to the archery field to try out Merthin's homemade bow and arrows. Because he is an eleven year old child, Merthin is not allowed to practice. Caris, Edmund Wooler's daughter, suggests they go to the forest to practice, which is against the law. Gwenda, a laborer's daughter, with her dog, trails along with them. When they reach the forest, Merthin shots an arrow and misses the chosen mark. Ralph, Merthin's younger ...more
Lewis Weinstein
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A great story. So long it should be called "Book without End" but by the time you reach the end, you don't want to finish.

The characters, both the good guys and the bad guys, are well developed; none is perfectly good or bad. One calamity after another, some of nature (the plague) but most of human cause, beset the capable few who struggle to get things done.

NOTE: You can read this either before or after "Pillars of the Earth." Both books take place in the same locale, but two hundred years ap
*** 3.75 ***

"...“You see, all that I ever held dear has been taken from me," she said in a matter-of-fact tone. "And when you've lost everything-" Her facade began to crumble, and her voice broke, but she made herself carry on. "When you've lost everything, you've got nothing to lose.”..."

This is the truth about this book, similar issues I had with "The Pillars of the Earth" - Ken Follet piles up small, every day problems that were typical for all in Medieval Europe, and adds to them more
Christine Whitney
Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
The Pillars of the Earth was pretty good, but WWE is supposed to be a sequel... However, WWE seems to be a 1000 page snorefest after the first book. Perhaps if I had read them 18 years apart... then I would not have minded that WWE is a plagiarized (by the same author) copy of TPOTE. They have the same plot, same polar characters (no one is reasonable, they are all so totally overboard in every description), same activities, same cads, same villians, same love story... Same everything... But the ...more
Feb 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
I cannot find the words to express how disappointed I was with this book. Having enjoyed "Pillars of the Earth" twice I awaited the issue of the sequel with immense enthusiasm.

What a letdown! The characters, the plot,the writing are all dreadful...Mr Follett has tried to bring the 13th century into the 21st and it hasn't worked. The gratuitous sex and foul language spoil the book from the first chapter and for the first time in years, I will not be finishing this novel!

Very sad to see a good au
Mary Catherine
Dec 29, 2007 rated it it was ok
This is the sequel to "Pillars of the Earth." It's set 200 years after that original book but is very similar in terms of plot and especially character. Every main character from "Pillars" has their parallel in this book: the intelligent, noble builder; the feisty, born-before-her-time love interest; the evil, corrupt nobleman who rapes and pillages his way into power. It gets to the point where you start to wonder why you're bothering reading it. There's absolutely nothing new here.

Like "Pillar
Miquel Reina
When I had in my hands “World without end” I had a mixture of excitement and fear, I will explain it. For me the Pillars of the Earth was and is one of my favourite books, I could say that is within my Top 5 favourite books, so when I first took “World without end” I had a great desire to know what Ken Follett wrote but also I was afraid that comparing to its precursor novel could disappoint me. I was wrong. “World without end” is an extraordinary book, and now I have to say that it competes wit ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it did not like it
"...epic, historic novel"??!
Good Lord, I must be reading a different book than everyone else.
This seems formulaic and forced. Characters are more like caricatures; and what's the deal with everyone fornicating all the time??! Not that there's anything wrong with fornicating per se, I just don't care for books that use it as a major plot device time after time after time.
I actually checked the cover to make sure it wasn't "Clan of the Cave Bear" 2.0...
I'm going to finish this book (I think) 'caus
Let me preface this review by saying that I loved Pillars of the Earth. A lot. I thought it was almost perfect, in fact, except for one minor issue that I had with the dialogue sounding too modern for the time period (an issue I had with World Without End, too). After being engrossed in that book, loving, hating, caring about the characters in it, after feeling like I was living in Kingsbridge for 900 pages, I was excited for this follow up. I wanted more, I wanted to be back in that world, expe ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Edge of Eternity: by Ken Follett (The Century Trilogy, Book 3) | Summary & Analysis
  • A Column of Fire by Ken Folletts | Conversation Starters
  • La catedral del mar (La catedral del mar, #1)
  • The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth's Children #1)
  • The Other Boleyn Girl (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #9)
  • Edge of Eternity: by Ken Follett (The Century Trilogy Book 3) Snapshot Summary Companion Book
  • Shōgun
  • The White Queen (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #2)
  • The Physician (Cole Family Trilogy, #1)
  • Trilogía The Century de Ken Follet (Guía de lectura): Resumen y análisis completo
  • The Last Kingdom (The Saxon Stories, #1)
  • La mano de Fátima
  • Shinsetsu. Il potere della gentilezza
  • The Name of the Rose
  • Dispara, yo ya estoy muerto
  • Sarum: The Novel of England
  • The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children, #2)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of t

Other books in the series

Kingsbridge (4 books)
  • The Evening and the Morning
  • The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)
  • A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)

Related Articles

The new year has arrived. The clock has been reset. Now is the time to tackle the really ambitious reading challenges–those massive books that...
88 likes · 50 comments
“We’re all good when it suits us, he used to say: that doesn’t count. It’s when you want so badly to do something wrong—when you’re about to make a fortune from a dishonest deal, or kiss the lovely lips of your neighbor’s wife, or tell a lie to get yourself out of terrible trouble—that’s when you need the rules. Your integrity is like a sword, he would say: you shouldn’t wave it until you’re about to put it to the test.” 43 likes
“you should first follow the plow if you want to dance the harvest jig.” 41 likes
More quotes…