Many years ago, I read Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth... I had just finished reading The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Aeul and I was hungry for another sweeping epic set in our past (sexy bits optional. I was actually growing weary of all the sex bits in Aeul's stuff, but I guess there wasn't much to do back in prehistoric times, eh?).
Most of my junior high and high school years were spent with my nose in a book whenever I got the chance and rather than do my usual (carry around two to three novels at a time, switching from one to the next when I felt more in the mood for the genre of one over another), I dedicated my whole attention to its medieval majesty. I adored it. My English teacher at the time, Mrs. Smith, asked to borrow it and eventually returned it (in poorer condition then when I gave it to her, I might add) and playfully scolded me for reading a book that had naughty bits in it. She was never one to make jokes, so I suddenly felt pretty damn cool in her eyes.
Anyway, I perused other Follett titles and was disappointed to see he'd not written anything else quite like it, though I do fully intend on reading some of his other stuff some day, I hungered for yet more historical hijinks and havoc. And so he wrote World Without End. And there was much rejoicing. I just finished reading it the other day and I'm still hungry for more.
While it may bore some that he tends to go into tremendous detail when describing aspects of medieval architecture and the fundamentals of stone masonry or other artisan crafts of the time, I indulged his efforts to show just how much homework he'd obviously done and wanted to show off.
It's no wonder these two novels are so enormous, he really does create a whole world in the two of them and fleshes out so many wonderful characters that it would be a crime to cut any of them out for the sake of brevity.
For a sci-fi nerd, I really do adore my historical fiction novels... If any of you have ones to reccommend, please do. I'm so out of the loop nowadays on what books are available I hate to think how many great ones I'm missing out on.