Courtesy of B&N

Every now and then, mainstream fiction rocks my world.  World Without End is such a book. 

It’s not deep, heavy reading, but Mr. Follett did his research.  I think he’s been criticized before for using a certain profane word that wasn’t in use way back when, but if that’s the worst historical liberty taken, I’m impressed.  I’ve loved the Middle Ages and the pretty pictures chivalry and royal courts bring to mind since I first saw Disney’s Sword in the Stone.   The movie was made a few years before I was born, but I distinctly remember a coloring book, and immediately thereafter, I fell in love with the musical Camelot.

I won’t bore you with the entire bibliography of my medieval facination, but it’s extensive.  Add in my curiousity about the history of the Catholic Church, and I couldn’t put this book down.  Yeah, I’ll admit I skimmed the pages when Merthin was thinking about architecture in painful detail.  I love a beautiful, old cathedral more than many, but I am no artist nor an engineer, and after twenty sentences, my eyes glaze over.

As with Pillars of the Earth, this isn’t a cozy.  There’s sex – graphic rape and more – and violence – there’s a particularly upsetting scene where a young boy shoots a friend’s dog for no good reason – but it’s all in context and it is all plot-driven.  The problem with Camelot and the like is it paints a flowery picture of a time in history that was HARD for the vast majority of those living it.  Even nobility suffers greatly, but since I’m striving to dogdge spoilers, I’ll leave it at that.

The author does a GREAT job of making the reader care about the characters, even the villans.  I couldn’t read fast enough – and I read pretty rapidly! – to satisfy my curiousity.  I needed to know if there was any redemption – or at least justice – for the villans, and I was going crazy at the end, because I didn’t know Sir-Brother Thomas’s secret.   However, as with Pillars of the Earth, the ending is fair; good wins, although not without a little manipulation on its own behalf. 

If Rowling’s message with Harry Potter was that we are the sum of the choices we make, Follett’s homily is that life is a fight, but if you work for the greater good, you’ll attract the resources you need to succeed. 

And the title of my post?  I suspect a few of you get it.  Doxology actually has both a generalized meaning and serves as a title to several similar hymns, one of which ends with the same words as the book’s title.  But don’t worry; even Follett’s heros are quite flawed, so I seriously doubt the religious backdrop will be off-putting to anyone, unless you have lived in a bubble and somehow missed that the Catholic Church’s history perhaps is the most corrupt tale you’ll ever hear.

Have you read World Without End?  What did you think?

Now, to find a book to follow up this great read…


11 comments on “Doxology

  1. Bridget says:

    You and my niece have both liked this book and the other one, so I guess I’ll need to give them a try.

  2. Sue says:

    Yes, I read it when it first came out. First I reread Pillars because It had been a while. I enjoyed it, too. I’m now reading Fall of Giants though the second book isn’t due until 2012. I just couldn’t wait.

  3. Jessica says:

    wow…you are a fast reader!!! So glad that you liked it, but if you loved Pillars, i knew you would love this one.
    Tell me that you got some serious chararcter satisfaction with how everything ended up with Gwenda? It has been some time since i finished the book, but that was a really good “OH?? well, DUH..i guess you are right” moment for her at the end, and i am so glad. Although really, other than a hot bod and a face to match, not sure what she saw in Wolfrick, or whatever his name was. Great book. Loved Caris, but sometimes she frustrated the heck out of me, but loved her strong character.
    That man can write the heck out of a story.

    OK…now if you want a fun book…do you ever read Nelson DeMille? Plum Island is a good one, and is the first in a series with the main character. I think we have talked about DeMille before..did you read The Charm School? takes place in Russia.

    My bookclub is heading back to the classics for a bit. next up is Pride and Prejudice.

  4. Jessica says:

    oh…one thing about the profane word. I want to say that he is correct in his usage of it, although it was not a profane word then. I would look it up, but i don’t want to deal with what comes up on google for the eff word! LOL!
    anyways…for unlawful carnal knowledge is the popular version of where it came from, remember the Van Halen album? LOL. Not sure how accurate that is though. Again…not really what i want to google.

  5. No, have not read, but would like to do so. I, too, am a fan of that time period. Oh well, what is one more book on top of MT TBR?

  6. Ally says:

    Thanks Chan, you’ve convinced me to check out this book. I loved The Pillars of the Earth and it’s been so many years ago since I read it maybe I’ll read it again.

  7. Susan says:

    I have read Pillars and World TWICE. I loved them both, both times!!! I agree that there are some scenes that are hard to read, but I think they are probably period authentic, so I just skim those parts.

    I have read Giants yet, but it is in my TBR pile.

  8. Bubblesknits says:

    I haven’t read it, but only because that’s typically not my preferred genre. I’m glad you enjoyed it, though! : )

  9. Barbara says:

    It’s tough to find another book when you’ve just finished one you love.
    I like Ken Follett’s books and you’re right….his sex scenes are usually pretty hot.

  10. Louise says:

    Sounds like a book my daughter would love. Thanks for sharing, Chan…

  11. Nichole says:

    Have not read this one……. just got 2 new doggy books in for review. One is a fiction book about different dogs humans becoming friends… looks like a fun read.

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