Saturday, December 01, 2007

World Without End by Ken Follett

Oprah Winfrey is not the devil.

Last year she gave proper due to Cormac McCarthy's science fiction masterpiece The Road long before it won the Pulitzer. (I won't comment on the rampant stupidity of SF Fandom at large on this issue other than to say pervasive.)

So... Oprah.

A month or so ago, Winfrey named Ken Follett's The Pillars of The Earth her latest bestseller... err... book club pick. And kudos to her for the choice. Pillars is a wonderful historical on the building of a cathedral in feudal England, and the tales of those affected by it.

Seventeen years after The Pillars of The Earth was first published, we have the sequel: World Without End.

Hallelujah.

WWE is a return to Kingsbridge to visit with the descendants of of the characters in Pillars of The Earth, and as such, can be read without having read the previous volume. (But you don't want to skip it.) It is a fascinating look into the life of serfs and average business people during the Dark Ages. Politics and religion weigh heavily in this book, and if one is deeply religious and particularly Catholic, one may not like the realities presented.

I have two problems with this novel, despite enjoying it very much; the women are far too modern and the editor was far too timid.

I appreciate that Follett wants to present women as independent, but his portrayal of a teenage girl turned Nun rebelling against the Church to practice modern medicine is a bit much. (I don't want to give away too much, but it becomes increasingly absurd.) And while I enjoy doorstop books as much as anyone, a whole lot of this could have been condensed.

That said, go enjoy Kingsbridge.

8.5/10

Collector's Notes:

The Pillars of the Earth first edition has exploded in value due to Oprah's making it a club selection. That said, I do not foresee the same happening with World Without End. Feel free to wait for the paperback if you are so inclined.