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World Without End by Ken Follet

 

Title: World Without End

Author: Ken Follet

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Pan Macmillan, 1237p

Whenever I see some manmade object, I use to wonder how it would have been thought of first and how would have been the world before that was made. I am always interested to know about these facts. When I read Pillars of the Earth, I was pleasantly surprised that Ken Follet also thought along the same way and tried to answer some through this book. Here in World Without End, the sequel, he had given more detailed account of medieval life.

While the POTE revolved the lives of people in the background of building a great cathedral, World without end follows the life of four kids who happened to be on the fateful day when they met a knight who held a secret that would embarrass the king if it was out.

The book was a triumph in portraying the medieval life in the most interesting way. I hesitated to take up this book for reading mainly because of its size. This book – of more than 1200 pages – always made me wonder whether I would be able to read it completely.  But once I started, there is no looking back. The story was gripping throughout the book despite lacking the central theme.

Ken Follet’s narrative was so simple with the intention of never making the reader feel bored. Story was so interesting that sometimes even when I am not reading book the mind was revolving around the things happened in the book rather than real life.

During the episodes of the plague, I was a bit depressed that I couldn’t get out of that feeling. I know it sound foolish but what to do :). And during those times when I was reading these chapters, I use to wonder how the world is going on smoothly when such a pandemic disease swept the world, for a fraction of a second.  Such was the hold of Ken Follet’s narration in the book on the readers.

Where in Pillars of the earth, most of the things are revolved around the thought process of new technologies in constructions, in this book it was about almost all the things in the regular life. He tried to explain about the emergence of new way of dyeing, medical treatments, knitting clothes and lot more.

I was appalled by the blind beliefs of medievalist on God, Priests and other old practices. I liked this book more because the protagonists in this book are rationalists compared to the God-fearing ones of the Pillars of the earth. Also, I was surprised to see Ken Follett written in detail about the havoc created by English soldiers in France during the war. The parts that explained the war wretched places was very much detailed and definitely he succeeded in making me realizing the effects of war.

My Rating for this wonderful historical fiction ★★★★☆

It’s not about the Bike: Lance Armstrong

Title: It’s not about the bike: My journey back to life

Author: Lance Armstrong

Genre: Non-fiction, Auto-Biography, Sports

Publisher: Berkley, p289

I pick up this book to read when I was feeling low with the certain things happened in my personal life. Lance, thru this book helped me realize that anything is achievable and any hurdle could be overcome. Thank you Lance.

I have heard of Lance Armstrong, the man who won the Tour de France record-breaking seven times after recovering from life threatening cancer. So what I expected from this book was a fairy tale of a rider who survived cancer and became successful in the tour. But what I got was totally different and I’ve  become a fan of Lance and the cycling.

Lance’s life as a whole is inspiring not only the cancer survival or tour de France victories. He started his career with a cycle on credit. His first bike damaged by a truck driver, second one lost in a life threatening accident but still he never stopped riding. You should definitely have enough courage and determination to continue.

He finished last in the first professional race he participated and was laughed at. I think many of us not trying anything challenging because of the fear of similar reactions. Look at him, he got over it and what are the things he had done.

‘What makes a great endurance athlete is the ability to absorb potential embarrassment and to suffer without complaint’ is what he said about this incident. I feel this is not only for athlete, this is for all of us who are trying to withstand in this competitive world where only fittest will survive.

This book is an eye opener for me on the cancer and it’s diagnosis. The detail account of chemo and effects of it definitely make me understand why it is considered as one of the worst diseases. On these parts of the book, I liked his attitude and determination to win over the disease and come back to the normal life.

When someone tells you’re not good to do something, don’t simply accept it. Try doing it at least to prove that person is wrong. Lance did it. When Cofidis and many other teams rejected him saying he is no more the athlete who wins the races, he was determined to prove them wrong and you know what happened.

I liked one more quote of him in the book. It is,

Definition of a ‘human’ as follows, characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, especially susceptible to weakness and therefore showing the qualities of man.

If you want me to tell he was lucky. I would say in three things. He born in USA, he got a very understanding mother and great coaches. Why I say USA is, he could earn himself about $20k at the age of 16 by participating in various triathlon events. In India, even the professional athletes who participated in various international events could not even think of earning so much. (Except of course the cricketers).

Secondly, an understanding parent is very important for a career as an athlete. I know many of my friends who have to give up their ambitions in sports just for the sake fulfilling their parents’ wishes.

Lance was extremely lucky to have the coach like Chris Carmichael. Whenever his confidence gone low Chris was there. I heard this from many that a good coach is the reason for more than half you achieved in the arena. Definitely Lance was lucky to have one.

I really liked Lance’s frank account of all the things happened in his life, including his initial arrogance, his shortcomings, cancer and infertility. If you ask me to point out one important lesson I learned from this book that would be,

‘If a man who had less than 10% chance of surviving, can survive and win over the world by his determination and never give up attitude why can’t we, who had very little problems compared to the one he had to overcome.’

Thanks for giving us this wonderful book Lance. ★★★★★