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.
World Without End takes place in the same fictional town as Pillars of the Earth — Kingsbridge — and features the descendants of some Pillars characters 157 years later. The plot incorporates two major historical events, the start of the Hundred Years' War and the Black Death.The author was inspired by real historical events relating to the Cathedral of Santa María in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
A television miniseries based on the novel aired worldwide in 2012. It premiered on Showcase in Canada on 4 September 2012; in the United States on Reelz Channel on 17 October 2012; on Channel 4 in the UK on 22 December, and on Star Movies in the Philippines in January 2013. The eight-part television event miniseries stars Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Peter Firth, Ben Chaplin, Charlotte Riley, Sarah Gadon and Tom Weston-Jones. It was directed by Michael Caton-Jones who also directed the historical epic Rob Roy.
Kenneth Martin Follett, (born 5 June 1949) is a Welsh author of thrillers and historical novels who has sold more than 160 million copies of his works. Many of his books have achieved high ranking on best seller lists. For example, in the US, many reached the number 1 position on the New York Times Best Seller list, including Edge of Eternity, Fall of Giants, A Dangerous Fortune, The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, Triple, Winter of the World, and World Without End.
Follett has had a number of novels made into films and television mini series: Eye of the Needle was made into an acclaimed film, starring Donald Sutherland, and six novels have been made into television mini-series: The Key to Rebecca, Lie Down with Lions, On Wings of Eagles (1986), The Third Twin – the rights for which were sold to CBS for $US1,400,000, a record price at the time – and The Pillars of the Earth (2010) and World Without End (2012). These last two have been screened in several languages in many countries. Follett also had a cameo role as the valet in The Third Twin and later as a merchant in The Pillars of the Earth. In 2016, A Dangerous Fortune was also adapted.
2018 - Made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 Birthday Honours for services to literature.
2013 - Made a Grand Master at the Edgar Awards in New York.
2012 - Winter of the World won the Qué Leer Prize for Best Translated Book of that year in Spain.
2010 - Fall of Giants won the Libri Golden Book Award for Best Fiction Title in Hungary that year.
2010 - Made a Grand Master at Thrillerfest V in New York.
2008 - Won the Olaguibel Prize for contributing to the promotion and awareness of architecture.
2008 - Made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by The University of Exeter.
2007 - Made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by The University of Glamorgan.
2007 - Made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by Saginaw Valley State University.
2003 - Jackdaws won the Corine Literature Prize in Bavaria.
1999 - Hammer of Eden won the Premio Bancarella Literary Prize in Italy.
1979 - Eye of the Needle won the Edgar Best Novel Award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Follett statue in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
Apples Carstairs series (as Simon Myles)
The Big Needle (1974) (a.k.a. The Big Apple – U.S.)
The Big Black (1974)
The Big Hit (1975)
Piers Roper series
The Shakeout (1975)
The Bear Raid (1976)
The Pillars of the Earth (1989)
World Without End (2007)
A Column of Fire (2017)
The Century Trilogy
Fall of Giants (2010)
Winter of the World (2012)
Edge of Eternity (2014)
Amok: King of Legend (1976) (as Bernard L. Ross)
The Modigliani Scandal (1976) (as Zachary Stone)
The Mystery Hideout (1976) (as Martin Martinsen) (a.k.a. The Secret of Kellerman's Studio)
The Power Twins (1976) (as Martin Martinsen)
Paper Money (1977) (as Zachary Stone)
Capricorn One (1978) (as Bernard L. Ross) (based on screenplay by Peter Hyams)
Eye of the Needle (1978) (a.k.a. Storm Island) (Edgar Award, 1979, Best Novel)
The Key to Rebecca (1980)
The Man from St. Petersburg (1982)
On Wings of Eagles (1983)[NONFICTION]
Lie Down with Lions (1985)
Night Over Water (1991)
A Dangerous Fortune (1993)
A Place Called Freedom (1995)
The Third Twin (1996)
The Hammer of Eden (1998)
Code to Zero (2000)
Hornet Flight (2002)
The Heist of the Century (1978) (with René Louis Maurice, others) (a.k.a. The Gentleman of 16 July (U.S.), Under the Stars of Nice, Robbery Under the Streets of Nice, and Cinq Milliards au bout de l'égout (1977)
It's not clear where New Labour stands on people who have several different jobs, but Ken Follett - aside from his duties as spouse to Barbara, the high-profile member for Stevenage - writes three quite different kinds of books.
There are the second world war stories (The Key to Rebecca, Night Over Water) which first allowed him to retire from newspaper reporting, then a set of modern spy or techno thrillers (The Third Twin, Code to Zero) and, finally, a strain of medieval yarns, started by The Pillars of the Earth, his1989 bestseller about the building of a cathedral in the 12th-century community of Kingsbridge.
Although this was something of an experiment for the author, a strong English liking for epic fiction set in distant lands means that The Pillars of the Earth has ranked high in those surveys of top British reads which tend to be won by JRR Tolkien. And, like Tolkien, Follett found himself under pressure to bulk out his already bulky tale.
He has now accommodated this enthusiastic fan-base with World Without End, a return to Kingsbridge of such remarkable proportions that you hope for Mrs Follett's re-election chances that the sustainability of the world's forests is not a major issue in her part of Hertfordshire. The last time I saw the numeral 1 printed four times in succession was in a cricket score-book for a game in which the batsmen were frantically running singles, but now here they are, stamped as the final page-number of Follett's book.
Commendably, though, the author does not settle simply for giving the readers of his medieval sequence more of the same. The first chapter has jumped two centuries from the original book - to Kingsbridge in 1327 - and the action vaults forward another 25 years during the story.
These time-slips are partly to hasten the development of four central characters first encountered as children - who will become involved in various dramatic areas of 14th-century politics, religion, law and war - and to admit to the narrative the medically significant date of 1347, when many characters will start developing boils and feeling seriously unwell.
The building of a great church is always a powerful metaphor, as it also was for William Golding in The Spire and Peter Carey in Oscar and Lucinda. But, unlike those other authors, Follett has returned to see how the building stands up, and it turns out that the foundations of Kingsbridge Cathedral are not as firm as its creators hoped, a deliberate image for a book which has uncertainty as its major theme. Although Follett doesn't force the parallels, the reader is clearly quietly invited at times to substitute Islam, avian flu and Iraq for the Christian Church, the Black Death and the wars with France.
There are two huge challenges in historical fiction, which few authors have ever satisfyingly solved and from which this book emerges only with an often tensely contested draw. One is that, in key historical moments, we will always know more than the characters, leading to chapters in which the reader fights a pantomime impulse to yell: "They're buboes. It's the Plague!" Follett's massive research means that he will be ahead of most readers most of the time but a bathetic historical hindsight sometimes intrudes.
The other constant difficulty is choosing a style of dialogue which finds the balance between anachronism and stage-archaism. Follett's choice is to voice things much as they would be said today. So, for example, the lines "I'm not the one trying to steal someone else's husband" and "Mother, you're spoiling the wedding" are spoken during a family gathering. And a woman who tells her man "I'm pregnant" receives the reassuring reply: "I don't think you should try to end the pregnancy with potions - it's too dangerous." It's easy to see why Follett avoided the "with child" and "God's blood" style of speech but the effect can sometimes resemble a medieval episode of EastEnders. His linking prose, though, is generally crisply efficient, rarely jarring in an Archeresque way, and the grimness of the historical reality of this period usually holds back the sentimentality to which populist fiction is prone, except in an unfortunately saccharine attitude to animals: even the baddies seem to have a dog, horse or cat, as if - and it would be unfair to invoke New Labour again here - Follett were cannily targeting the known weaknesses of his likely reading constituency.
Preferring Follett's spy thrillers, I would never have read this genre for pleasure. But, to my surprise, I came away from the book with admiration for a work that stands as something of a triumph of industry and professionalism. Trees and readers would require considerable notice before Follett extended this sequence into a trilogy, but in a culture which is time-poor and media-rich, there is a certain comfort in the fact that a book as long and dense as this is still regarded as a populist, commercial project.
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