I’ve reviewed ~575 books in the last few years and don’t often give out 5 stars. I can be a bit stingy as I want the book to just completely knock me over. Ken Follett is one of few authors who consistently impress, excite, and satisfy this thirst. The Pillars of the Earth came very close. World Without End hit the mark and is one of my top 5 all-time favorite books. In the third book in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire, I am again thoroughly exhilarated and awarding 5 stars. I do think World Without End is slightly better, but this was superb on so many levels. I’m doubly blessed as I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway and my blog followers selected it as my April 2018 Book Bucket List read. It was also a buddy read with a wonderful friend.
At the outset, this is a book covering the impact on several families and towns throughout Europe during the religious wars in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. From Spain to Europe, Scotland to England, and even parts of Africa and the Caribbean, this book tracks the various changing of the guard under Henry VIII’s daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, as well as other claimants to the throne, Mary of Scots and James I. Some are Catholic. Some are Protestant. Who will win? History knows, and many readers familiar with these facts know. But it doesn’t spoil the beauty of this absolutely stunning series of novels by Follett. He’s crafted an amazing set of towns, families, bonds and rivalries over a period of 60 years in this particular third novel where the tides turn every 5 to 10 years, or every 100 to 200 pages (yes, it’s nearly 1000 pages long). Your heart breaks. Your eyes bulge. People could be horrible. They could be kind. Persecution in the name of religion truly happened, and while some find this book taking advantage of history to present drama… my response is basically — Umm… yeah, it’s historical fiction and that’s the point. If you want a 100% accurate book, go read a non-fiction account.
With a tome of this length, my review could go on forever. I plan to keep it shorter than that. Ned Willard is the protagonist, and the novel follows his life from a teenager to a 70-year-old man through which time he has many lovers, wives, friends, and family. He is one of the most respectable characters I’ve ever met in a book, and while he certainly does a few things that I’d consider wrong by today’s standards, he was a visionary nearly 500 years ago. His treatment of others despite their beliefs, gender, race, or status were fantastic. He acted the act when he needed to but always to achieve a goal to ultimately help people. And he suffered… more than any man should.
If you’ve never read Follett before, you are truly missing out. If you’ve not read this 3-book series, you are missing out. It’s nearly 3,000 pages in total, but you don’t have to read all 3. You can choose just one and read them out of order. They’re set about 100 years apart, so you may miss a few details and connections, but nothing to throw you off. I’m going to be in a book daze for weeks. And maybe years since I don’t expect him to write another one in the series, but if he does, it will be at least 5 years based on the last few. This makes me sad. But I can always re-read them. And I will. They are that good. Seriously… who chooses to re-read 3000 pages again?
Huge amounts of plot and drama. Sometimes you’ll think “that’s just too much” but truly…. much of this ACTUALLY happened. It may have been different characters or a slightly different order. But people were cruel back then. They killed for no reason. Religion was a mega prompt for doing bad things. (Hey, wait, that happens today, too…). So in theory, this is such a statement about people and life and the lessons we fail to learn century after century. But for the most part, I look at this as a way to step into a different world, one that fascinates me. I forget any true facts I know about the life of these monarchs and pretend it’s all new to me. It makes me smile. I rush to the book each night to devour more pages. And I gush… because this was a buddy read with my friend Noriko in Japan. I can’t wait to catch up with her about this again!
I’ll end here not because I am out of things to say, but because I have so many more books to read. And I’d rather chat about it than extend my review. So if you’ve read it, message me. Would love to discuss Follett with ya!
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.