I was greatly disappointed in this book. Pillars of the Earth, it’s prequel, is one of the best books I’ve read this year. So, I was eagerly looking forward to reading World Without End. I thought with everything that happened in the period (the Hundred Years War, the Black Death, the end of the Medieval Warming Period, and the beginning of the Little Ice Age), this book would have a lot of action and depth. I was wrong. Perhaps not about the action, but certainly about the depth.
World Without End did not draw me in, absorbing me in the time and the place, in the emotions of the characters.
I wanted to smack Caris throughout the entire book. Most of the time her attitude was childish. She did not want to marry him, but she didn’t want anybody else to have him either. I cheered aloud when Merthin told her he’d be her husband but not her pet.
Ralph was as thoroughly reprehensible as any villain you could wish for, and I didn’t think Wulfric nearly good enough for Gwenda. But then, no one can choose with whom to fall in love. It just happens.
I think I was most disappointed in Godwyn. I couldn’t help thinking Prior Philip would be spinning in his grave like a top. Philip was one of my favorite characters in Pillars of the Earth, and I had hoped he would have a worthy successor here.
World Without End is a really good book. Why else would I feel so deeply about the characters, though a lot of that is dislike and exasperation? Excellently written, wonderfully researched, it is an excellent portrait of the period. It just suffers from the problem of most sequels: it just wasn’t as good as the original.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars