Fall of Giants: Ken FollettBy Lee Peoples | May 3rd, 2011 | Category: Book Reviews, Fiction | No Comments »
Set in the years leading up to, including, and following WWI, 1911-1924, Fall of Giants, the first novel in Ken Follett’s THE CENTURY TRILOGY, follows the lives of five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—as they act and interact in the drama of the First World War that ultimately involves the major countries of the world. Historically, we all know the outcome of the war, but in true Follett style there are further twists and turns that add to the suspense and intrigue. For example, what will happen to the secret love and marriage between British aristocrat Maud Fitzherbert and German aristocrat and soldier Walter von Ulrich?
At the beginning of his novel, Follett lists the many characters, both real and fictitious. How I would be able to deal with so many characters of so many nationalities was a real concern of mine; but I need not have worried, as their interrelations made for smooth movement from one to another.
As always Follett demonstrates his great faith in and respect for women and their intelligence and strength of courage. Lady Maude of England and Ethel Williams, Welsh peasant and former head housekeeper of Ty Gwyn, Maude’s family estate, are two such characters. In addition he demonstrates the intelligence and courage of the young men of these countries, who though formally uneducated, often show greater wit and intelligence than their superiors, both on the battlefield and in the political arena. Billy Williams (William Williams, called Billy Twice), Ethel Williams’s younger brother, and Grigori Peshkov, Russian factory worker and later soldier, demonstrate their courage and intelligence both in battle and in politics after the war. These and others continue to fight for the betterment of their countries.
Remembering my great enjoyment of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, I am never daunted by the length of Follett’s or any other authors’ books as long as they are well written and entertaining throughout. Fall of Giants, 985 pages long, was just that: well written, well researched, and engrossing throughout. I really enjoyed the personal connection I felt to the characters and their situations as I read and World War I became even more real to me. I am looking forward to the succeeding novels in THE CENTURY TRILOGY.