April 9, 2008

World Without End

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With all the movies and television shows coming out, and the constant demands of being a Cornell student, the simplicity of reading novels for enjoyment has been pushed aside. But fear not: the return to the classic novel should be marked triumphantly with the breakthrough work of Ken Follet. Though some may be put off by its size, World Without End takes you under its spell to thrill and consume you.
Follet writes this book with an intent that can only be gleaned from the use of foreshadowing. He writes with the purposes of showing that evil deeds do not go unpunished, nor do the rewards of the good. Follet crafts his story by using numerous narrators to weave together the plot. The reader is able to dive into the thoughts and emotions of multiple characters, allowing for motives to be clear.
The theme encapsulates these character’s pursuits and centers them around Kingsbridge Cathedral, adding religious undertones to the plot. The novel takes a small cathedral town and exposes both hardships and relationships to demonstrate how desperation for power can often lead to a character’s demise.
Follet’s style ranges from colorful descriptions to simplistic explanations. He undergoes tremendous effort in painting characters but pays less attention to descriptions of surroundings. One can bring the image of the heroine, Caris, to mind easier than you can picture the town that the novel is set in.
The story occurs in chronological order, but the scope over which it is set is incredibly long. The reader begins when the characters are children and see them age throughout the novel. By the time one reaches the end, you have been through each of the characters lifetime. This dramatic length and detail is the tool that Follet uses to convey his message. By seeing the mistakes and processes that the people go through, you can determine who deserves what end. Follet also uses his characterization to juxtapose the elements of good and evil. He pins those meant to be seen as protagonists against the antagonists in arguments, so as to clearly demonstrate as well as foreshadow those meant to triumph or those meant to be destroyed.
Follet brings an interesting argument to the table. Do those who constantly strive for their own ambitions, doing bad deeds, get what they deserve in the end? By placing this question in a historical setting, we are able to step outside our own world and view the plainness of people, without the interruptions of technology. This is an important commentary on human nature because it emphasizes in the characters those attributes which we must admit we possess.
Though not meant for light reading, World Without End is an exiting journey to the twelfth century that should belong on everyone’s bookshelf.