|To-go||Sit and Savor|
The Fall of Giants by Ken Follet is an epic journey through the Great War. Fans of historical fiction will need to read this book one of The Century Trilogy as a right of passage.
The Fall of Giants and The Century Trilogy is an incredible, admirable undertaking, though fans of Ken Follet would expect no less. The story begins in Europe, at the beginning of the war, and follow people from five different families: Welsh, English, Russian, American and German. Follet uses these characters to illustrate major themes and events from the time as the war unfolds, drudges on, and wraps up.
Fans of history will enjoy a dive into the perspectives of the characters, and the different personalities, histories and politics that were at play at the time. Follet brings these moments to life, and the reader can better understand what happened, and why. He also brings the characters themselves to life, showing that human themes – such as love, envy, and pride – are consistent across time.
While some of the chance encounters between the relatives and friends of the five families seem a little unlikely, they illustrate the interconnectedness of Europeans. Follet also spends a good chunk of time on the Russian Revolution, something that is glossed over (read: not covered) in American high school history classes. This reviewer gained a much better understanding of what happened with the rise of the Bolsheviks and was able to piece together historical events that she’s heard of, but never get a full picture of.
The prose and actual writing style aren’t profound; rather, Follet uses a simple, straight-forward, easy-to-read tone to get to the point of the matter. Given the length of the books, there’s not much extra room for flowery description. He does repeat himself a bit, presumably to remind the reader of previous events, but to those who can finish it in a month or two, this convention is a bit of a nuisance.
Would I Recommend It?
Yes…and no. This comes from someone who is now committed to this trilogy, and with each book at almost 1,000 pages, it has proved to be quite the commitment. However, it’s rewarding for those who like to live in a world that an author has created, and lament when a story is over far too soon. Instead, investment in the characters…and their children….and their children have a huge payoff.
FHR tip: Get the audiobook for a long trip – it’s about 30 hours – and the narrator does a great job.
Read our review of Ken Follett’s second book in this trilogy: Winter of the World.