Dan Schwent's Reviews > World Without End

World Without End by Ken Follett
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bookshelves: homework-from-the-ladies, 2013, kitten-squisher

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 days. Sighing, before I knew it, I was engrossed and asking her if Ralph was going to be the asshole rapist bully in this one. I still hate that Will Hamleigh!

Much like Pillars of the Earth, World Without End follows the lives of a number of characters; Merthin the carpenter, his brother Ralph the squire, a poor girl named Gwenda, Wulfric the laborer, Godwyn the monk, and several others. As I predicted, Ralph was the asshole rapist of the book. What a nun mugger that guy was!

As with Pillars of the Earth, twists abound and the 14th century is not a good place to be a woman. Hell, it doesn't sound like that great of a place to be a man either, but the women get the short end of the stick for the most part. There's just as much scheming as in the first book and just as many people making decisions that would later bite them in the ass.

While World Without End happens years later, it very much picks up the style and flavor of The Pillars of the Earth. So much that it's very nearly the same book with slightly different characters. As near as I can tell, Follett's master plot generator goes something like this:

1. Things are going good
2. A problem arises
3. Problem solved, leading to unforeseen results
4. Goto 1

It's still a fun read that messes with your emotions but some of the magic is gone once you catch the rhythm of the plot. Kind of like how M. Night Shyamalan's movies aren't as fun once you start trying to figure out what the big twist is going to be as soon as the movie starts. It was exhausting to read at times, not because of the prose, which is breezy and accessible, but because of plot twists every 6.5 pages. It doesn't really build toward anything besides the next iteration of the good guys getting screwed over and the bad guys having good things happen to them.

Since it's hard to review a book of this size without revealing too much, here are some closing points:
1. The late 1300's were just as rape-y as the 1100's of the first book.
2. I wanted to smack Merthin silly. Then again, we men tend to do stupid things when sex is on the table. Or bed, floor, car hood, etc...
3. Godwyn, though one of the good guys at the beginning, is still a tool.
4. Accusing women of being a witch is some serious shit.
5. Ken Follett and George R.R. Martin both went to the school of screwing over characters as much as possible.
6. Getting flayed would suck.
7. The blurb mentions the Black Death but it doesn't make an appearance until after the halfway mark.
8. Every time someone mentioned the bishop, I thought of a certain Monty Python sketch.
9. My favorite line was "Sleeping next to her was like lying with a dead cow."

Three stars. I think I'm Folletted out for the time being.
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Reading Progress

April 15, 2013 – Shelved
April 15, 2013 – Shelved as: homework-from-the-ladies
June 24, 2013 – Shelved as: not-in-a-hurry-to-read
September 2, 2013 – Started Reading
September 3, 2013 –
page 3
0.3%
September 3, 2013 –
page 30
2.96%
September 3, 2013 –
page 50
4.93%
September 3, 2013 –
page 50
4.93%
September 4, 2013 –
page 57
5.62%
September 5, 2013 –
page 100
9.86% "Predictions as of page 100: Ralph is going to be the rapist/bully of the book and will marry Caris after she spurns Merthin for having sex with Grizelda."
September 5, 2013 –
page 132
13.02% "Just as rapey as the last one."
September 5, 2013 –
page 145
14.3%
September 5, 2013 –
page 170
16.77%
September 5, 2013 –
page 180
17.75%
September 5, 2013 –
page 200
19.72%
September 5, 2013 –
page 210
20.71%
September 6, 2013 –
page 261
25.74%
September 6, 2013 –
page 276
27.22%
September 6, 2013 –
page 301
29.68%
September 6, 2013 –
page 307
30.28%
September 6, 2013 –
page 344
33.93%
September 6, 2013 –
page 365
36.0%
September 6, 2013 –
page 381
37.57%
September 6, 2013 –
page 470
46.35%
September 6, 2013 –
page 505
49.8%
September 6, 2013 –
page 520
51.28%
September 6, 2013 –
page 540
53.25%
September 6, 2013 –
page 650
64.1%
September 6, 2013 –
page 650
64.1%
September 6, 2013 –
page 700
69.03%
September 7, 2013 –
page 767
75.64%
September 7, 2013 –
page 780
76.92%
September 8, 2013 –
page 900
88.76%
September 8, 2013 –
page 950
93.69%
September 8, 2013 – Finished Reading
September 9, 2013 – Shelved as: 2013
March 12, 2015 – Shelved as: kitten-squisher

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Christina (new)

Christina Even if I read this book and felt it was a 5-star read, I would still like this review better than the book. The list of closing points really got me. I may have to find some shady partners for conversation now because my new goal for the day is to use 'rape-y' in as many conversations as I can.


Bill The Bishop! lol


message 3: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Christina wrote: "Even if I read this book and felt it was a 5-star read, I would still like this review better than the book. The list of closing points really got me. I may have to find some shady partners for con..."

Thanks!


message 4: by Trudi (new)

Trudi "Kind of like how M. Night Shyamalan's movies aren't as fun once you start trying to figure out what the big twist is going to be as soon as the movie starts."

He and I are no longer on speaking terms after The Happening - in which nothing of note actually happened and Mark Wahlberg spent the majority of the film looking confused and constipated.


message 5: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Trudi wrote: "He and I are no longer on speaking terms after The Happening - in which nothing of note actually happened and Mark Wahlberg spent the majority of the film looking confused and constipated. "

Was that the one with the trees?


message 6: by Trudi (new)

Trudi That's the one.


message 7: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Good to see he's remaining true to form: predictable plot structure and rapey.


message 8: by Mogsy (MMOGC) (new)

Mogsy (MMOGC) That's like all the reasons why I didn't like the first one. I think I'll probably end up taking this one off my reading list.


Kate Sherrod Good idea. Dan and I took this one for the team. And in retrospect, I think I should probably take away a star.


message 10: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Amanda wrote: "Good to see he's remaining true to form: predictable plot structure and rapey."

It was fun at first but became exhausting. Like jumping on a trampoline. I'm ready to read something with monsters and 95% less rape.


message 11: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Dan wrote: "Amanda wrote: "Good to see he's remaining true to form: predictable plot structure and rapey."

It was fun at first but became exhausting. Like jumping on a trampoline. I'm ready to read somethi..."


I want Follett to write a book with mostly consensual sex just so the cover can proudly declaim "Now with 95% less rape!"


message 12: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent He's got a trilogy set in World War I. That has to be less rapey, right?


message 13: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Dan wrote: "He's got a trilogy set in World War I. That has to be less rapey, right?"

One would certainly hope so. But I doubt it.


message 14: by Robert (new)

Robert I want Follett to write a book with mostly consensual sex just so the cover can proudly declaim "Now with 95% less rape!"

That's bad on so many levels, but I also found it highly amusing, so I'm not sure what that says about me. I'm concerned I might have a sick sense of humor to go along with the more natural and loving kind. Which means I should probably go see a therapist, and this could be one of our first discussion points. But I've heard writing can be wonderful therapy, so I'm going with that instead.

Dan, the closing points were great, and complemented the enjoyable review rather well.


message 15: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Robert wrote: "Dan, the closing points were great, and complemented the enjoyable review rather well. "

Thanks! If I could do it over again, I would have kept a count of the rapes and the number of times Ralph had marvelous things happen to him instead of getting what was coming to him.


message 16: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Dan wrote: " If I could do it over again, I would have kept a count of the rapes and the number ..."

Then you could sell your used copy and some stranger could get a copy with a rape tally in the front cover. At least s/he'd be warned...


message 17: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent One thing I forgot to mention in the review is how manipulative most of the characters were. It's like they were all 21st century politicians...


message 18: by Robert (new)

Robert Dan wrote: "Robert wrote: "Dan, the closing points were great, and complemented the enjoyable review rather well. "

Thanks! If I could do it over again, I would have kept a count of the rapes and the number ..."


Something tells me it's probably better that you didn't count the rapes. While I appreciate your strive for accuracy, some numbers are better off not being mentioned, as they end up involving multiple group therapy sessions.


message 19: by seak (last edited Sep 09, 2013 01:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

seak Great review. Brought back lots of memories from reading this. I'm so glad I now know about THE BISHOP too. That was amazing.


message 20: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent If it had mentioned The Bishop AND The Spanish Inquisition, it would have been perfect.


message 21: by seak (new) - rated it 3 stars

seak Dan wrote: "If it had mentioned The Bishop AND The Spanish Inquisition, it would have been perfect."

Still just about there...


message 22: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Koivu Since the Simon Pegg movie "The World's End" came out, I can see that I'm going to mix up this title and that one. They're both set in England too, so I'm total f'ed.


message 23: by Skip (new)

Skip most excellent review. when you have gathered up enough energy, his new trilogy (starting with Fall of Giants) is worth reading. of course, his original spy thrillers are superb.


message 24: by Amy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Amy You nailed the book with your review.....I'm definitely Folletted-out!

William made me tired in the first book, and Ralph made me tired pretty much at his adolescence. I skipped over his rapes....and murders.

Not a bad read, but I'm ready for something less contrived :)


message 25: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Ralph was horrible and it seemed like he was constantly having good things happen to him. It was exhausting.


message 26: by Darrell (last edited Dec 04, 2013 09:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Darrell Worthy We all know that rape did not occur until the twentieth century, so Follett was being historically inaccurate by including rape in a 14th century novel. He should have left it out because it was offensive and historically inaccurate, as we know that women were treated very well during the middle ages.


message 27: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Darrell wrote: "We all know that rape did not occur until the twentieth century, so Follett was being historically inaccurate by including rape in a 14th century novel. He should have left it out because it was o..."

Right!


message 28: by james (new) - added it

james This book look good.


message 29: by james (new) - added it

james I like it


message 30: by Ania (new) - added it

Ania Thanks for review Dan. Exactly my feelings... I do love Ken Follet's writing but on this one I join the team of Folleted-out


message 31: by Mark (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Messing Agree with you on the flaying...it was the perfect irony though as within the next 50 pages Goodwyn was getting away with robbery of a much greater sum, and was never reprimanded even when exposed.


Stephanie Herron An extremely good reas.


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