World Without End is the second in the two-part series by Ken Follett and takes us back to Kingsbridge a hundred or so years after the end of the first in the series, Pillars of The Earth. We meet the main characters, Merthin and Caris, who are the primary guides through the novel. Merthin is from a family of a “bankrupt” landowner who has to rely on the priory for survival. He is too small to be picked as a knight’s squire so has to forge his way through the trades. Caris is the bright daughter of a wealthy wool trader.
As with the first book there are wicked clergymen, vile noblemen, the poor and downtrodden, thieves, knights, tragedy, love, desperation…and sex…a fair amount of sex. This one is not for the kids. This story has so many parallels and storylines that I felt were in the Pillars book I actually went back to see if I had already read this book. It is an enjoyable novel though somewhat tragic. Unfortunately it is a glimpse of what life was like back in the early fourteenth century where change was hard fought.
“The power to impose petty variations, favoring some serfs and persecuting others, keeping them all subservient. Monks and nuns have no business tyrannizing peasants. Farmers know what crops to sow and what they can sell at market. They work better left to themselves.”
…And a father’s lesson to his young daughter;
“Don’t worry. We who are born poor have to use cunning to get what we want. Scruples are for the privileged.”