A Review of Fall of Giants by Ken Follett


Authors/Publishers Book Description/Synopsis

Ken Follett‘s “World Without End” was a global phenomenon, a work of grand historical sweep, beloved by millions of readers and acclaimed by critics. Fall of Giants is his magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man’s world in the Welsh mining pits…Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson’s White House…two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…Billy’s sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter Von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London…

These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.

In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the twentieth century, changing themselves-and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.

What Do I Think?

Ken Follett without doubt lays down his reputation as a master story-weaver of the historical classic with “Fall of Giants,” this the first part of an incredibly large-scale piece of story telling, he has called “the Century Trilogy” as the series title signifies, it narrates the unruly times of the 20th century.

Set alongside this chronological view are the tangled lives of nearly a hundred characters but don’t worry this story-weaver has at the front of this book given us a cast list of the characters involved, a whole six pages.
This tale begins in 1911 when the giants of the title, the crowned heads of Europe, are powerfully established in their palaces, when it ends in 1924 they are all gone except King George V of Britain.

Between the 1911 and 1924 we have the various upheavals that were to restructure the world, the world that my great grandparents and grandparents knew.

Offered with plenty of possibility for action by these somewhat turbulent times Ken Follett takes full advantage of this occasion to weave a story that must surely touch the lives of each and every reader.

Apart from the destinies of the reigning crowned heads of Europe we follow the entangled destinies of five families, in Wales, England, Germany, Russia, and America.

Ken Follett has a thorough understanding of the history of this period and his skill to incorporate his research and his fictional characters into an animated, appealing story is masterful.

He’s exceptionally successful in relating the build-up to the 1914-18 war, when all hopes of a peaceful resolution steadily disappeared because of the conceit, belligerence, and epic lack of forethought of the powers that be led the way for the devastation that would overshadow the following decades.

This is a gigantic book; however, it was quick to read what with love stories, industrial unrest, political dramas, battlefield awfulness, class struggles it is presented to us in instalments, setting out on the journey first with one section of the story, and then another, at times joining together in unforeseen ways.

I loved the way the characters are eyewitness’s to such historic events which include; The Battle of the Somme (My maternal great-grandfather fell on the first day), Germany signing the Treaty of Versailles to name but two of many historical events and the way that Ken Follett is so adept to be able weave fact with fiction is inspiring and enlightening.

I really got a sense of how these events had an effect on the lives of so many of my very own families, and as I read this book I found myself thinking that what my great grandparents and grandparents had to go through is why they fought so hard for the vote, women’s equality and a living wage and why the first world war maybe had to happen.

In conclusion this is book that is unquestionably worth reading, it’s competently researched, effortless to read, and keeps the reader’s attention throughout, and I guarantee that If, like me, you enjoy historical novels you’ll take pleasure in the masterly woven stories of Ken Follett for his ability to make history come alive.

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