World Without End is the sequel to Ken Follett's spectacular Pillars of the Earth. Pillars takes place in the 1100s, during the construction of the fictional Kingsbridge cathedral; World takes place 200 years later, also in Kingsbridge, but lacks a single event as a unifying focus.
It is the lack of focus that makes World disappointing. It is entertaining, but a pale shadow of Pillars. The story starts with the need to build a new bridge for Kingsbridge. Roughly the last third of the story is about the plague coming to England. There are ongoing storylines about the conflicts between the honest and hardworking heroes and heroines and the greedy, corrupt, or violent villains.
But it often feels like Book Without End, as the storylines drag on and repetitively on for over 1,000 pages. Pillars was long too, and had plenty of soap opera-like side stories, but was grander in scope and it provided loads of interesting historical information along with an exciting tale. World, on the other hand, feels like a modern story involving characters with very modern sensibilities crammed into a Medieval setting.
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World Without End counts as my first book for the Tea & Books Challenge (books over 750 pages), as well as one of by books for the following challenges: TBR Pile, Mt. TBR, Off the Shelf, and Chunkster.