Thursday, February 21, 2013

An Endless Medieval Saga

Do not expect to find high literature here. But expect to be very entertained. Ken Follet's World Without End, the sequel to the tighter and more cared for The Pillars of the Earth is an endless medieval soap-opera.

Set on the backdrop of the English cathedral city of Kingsbridge in the early 14th century the heroes have to avoid poverty and starvation, weather an ongoing war and survive both the ever-returning plague and their cruel overlords. Fortunes are made and lost, love is reciprocated or shunted, offspring is fathered by strange bedfellows. Life and death are intermingled - but life always finds a way to go on. Even in those harsh times.

This is a long book. It could use a heavier-handed editing but I doubt it would make much of a difference. Sure, there are themes that keep repeating (the greedy and ever scheming monks of the priory make underhanded attempts to steal, bring down or even kill the independent Caris again and again; Merthin the prodigy builder having to fight the self-serving conservative establishment to implement his innovative designs; the villainous Ralph in an insatiable vengeance-trip against a peasant boy who once broke his nose). After the third time you go through the same story-arcs you grow a bit tired of it. And yet you cannot stop reading on.

Is there a happy end? Well, I shall not spoil it for anyone. However, whether there is one or not, brace yourself for a long journey. You shall enjoy it too.

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