Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fall of Giants by Ken Follet

Product DetailsJennifer: I liked this book so much that I think part of the reason I'm a bit sad today is because I finished it last night and I'm bummed that I don't have any more chapters to read. I'd read Pillars of the Earth and World Without End back to back - what a relief that I didn't have to wait for the sequel in that instance.

I didn't expect to enjoy Fall of Giants as much as his previous work, but I actually enjoyed it even more. This novel takes place during the teens and twenties and, as in his previous work, we learn about history through the eyes of fictional characters.  I was a history major and simply adored the professors who could bring the stories alive. My very favorite professor had me simply enraptured by his telling of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and the deterioration of Europe into the first World War.

In this book, I gained a new appreciation for my Welsh ancestors (and the fight for women's rights) through Ethel, I gained a new empathy for Germany and I was simply stunned at the dysfunction of Tsarist Russia. What fascinates me more than anything is reading the precedents to the Cold War - it's almost painful to read - as if you're someone watching a train wreck about to happen and you're the only one who realizes disaster is imminent.

What truly makes Ken Follet so readable, however, is good old-fashioned character development. You see the perspective of each and every character when they are "on screen" (so to speak). I can't even begin to imagine how difficult that would be as a writer. Most people simply write from the perspective of one character. Everyone else is just a cipher or maybe a semi-interesting antagonist. His women characters are just as interesting and compelling as his men. Some characters are more likable, but you understand where all of them are coming from and you don't question why they do what they do.

All I can say, Mr. Follet, is please hurry up with the second book in the trilogy!

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