First: I started the novel *expecting* to like it because I'm already a Follett fan. Second: I enjoy historical nonfiction very much, so this is close to my wheelhouse... if you aren't fascinated by history, you may not enjoy this.
The basic story here is the leading up to, and the time during World War I. The characters represent German, British, Russian, and American cultures. The plot touches on love and loss, sexual choices, womens' liberation, freedom of speech, corruption and loyalty. There are a few cliches (the demanding father) and a few turns that I didn't see coming.
What I particularly *loved* about this novel was how the characters were all different - age, class, and culture. I loved feeling the story from multiple perspectives and it actually helped shed some light on things I hadn't considered before.
This was long and short at the same time. It was a long novel but it ended somewhat abruptly, and a little too tidy for my personal taste. I understand that is a set up for the next in the trilogy, but it was distracting in a way, and I wasn't totally satisfied upon the book's conclusion.
I really enjoyed this story, and I recommend it to either Follett fans, historical nonfiction or fiction fans. I can't give it 5 stars because I didn't rush out to get the second book as soon as I was done (though it was available at the time of my reading). All in all: a great, solid read... but not a new favorite.
A note about the performance: I almost stopped listening about three hours in, because I don't really care for the narrator. I'm glad I stuck it out, but I would have enjoyed this much more with a clearer speaker.
The narrator was very regular and I love the details he put in the origin of the characters.
The fact that German, Russian, and French characters were all speaking English with the respective accent help me a lot to picture them in my mind.
My favourite character was Ethel, John lee brought her to life.
Billy was an inspiration, it was a pleasure to follow him thru such a big part of his life.
I love listening to a good book read by a great narrator while driving or doing mundane tasks like housekeeping. Characters come alive!
This book is wonderfully written and expertly narrated. The story takes place about 100 years ago, and the very real characters were from all over the western civilized world. World War I causes their lives to intermingle often in the sweetest of ways. I was disappointed when it ended, but am now into Book 2 of the trilogy and it's just as good.
I found the mode in which the book as downloaded not appealing. This is because the book was broken in 3 parts ( and I do understand why) however the number of chapters as download do not correspond to the book chapters. This process should be reviewed.
Yes, and I have. I really enjoy the characters and they come to life in the voices that John Lee gives them. It is nice to get down to the real history behind the first world war and learn more from the characters rather than a history book's couple pages or paragraphs.
Ethel - because she is so real and feisty, an early mover and shaker, passionate. I love her Welsh accent that John Lee provides.
The characters jump off the page with their voices and personalities, rather than just being a flat page you turn.
Ethel for the above reasons or brother Billy, again, just to hear them speak.
Love the book and can hardly wait to read the second one.
I learned a lot about WWI. My main criticism is the book went back and forth between war and sex in too simplistic a way.
I think he did a good job with most.
I really like the idea that Ken Follet has taken on the amazing task of trying to to capture the historical 20th century in a readable narrative through characters that are supposed to be reflective of the times and attitudes.
Even though there are many good parts of the book, there were a couple things that really
kept it from being wonderful.
Unfortunately, Mr. Follet ( or his editors) seemed to include formulaic "stuff" that detracted from what could be an excellent series.
The book seemed to jump from chapter to chapter.
First, the history chapter-
I often had to re-listen to these chapters because of the historical significance and interest ( it almost felt like he buzzed through those those parts even though it is obvious he has researched in depth and has good background info about political, Economic, and sociology, etc . of the times.
Second, we had chapters that developed characters from different backgrounds and plots that showed how their lives intertwined and daily life from their perspective.. The characters are very interesting. They give a very good "feel" for the times.
Then, we have chapters or parts if chapters that, I guess, are for the bored or to satisfy our desire to know how they ever had sex with all the mores of the time and all the clothes they wore. So there were many well described sexual encounters that made sure we all knew that even in the early 1900's young ladies, even the upper crust were quite good at "blow jobs" . In fact it appears that most women in that period were "liberated and forward" enough to "want sex" and that men were "able" to find all the "right" parts on the ladies and to ensure procreation of the species. I guess, if somehow we got bored by the history or the characters....we would just get "in bed" With them and see how they "did it" ...and we managed to jump into a lot of beds with a lot of "frisky" women. No dull "shrinking violets".
So we had a chapter on really good history of times that seemed to be rushed and
Loaded with info, a chapter or two devoted to the development of the characters and their stories which helped explained everyday life. Then an often graphic chapter devoted to their sexual lives. To me, that just caused it to become disjointed and a bit hard to follow despite a lot of very good parts.
I guess I was spoiled by Herman Wouk's "Winds of War" and "War and Remebrance"
And wish Ken Follet and his publishers had taken more time to develop and intertwine
The information...I am sure some people reading would find it dull without the graphic
Sexual encounters but, at a certain point, I began to find them a bit ridiculous and redundant...all you had to do was fill in different characters names and you had a new chapter.
Since This book and series has so much good and all I can see is the potential for real excellence, I am a bit disappointed. I think it has been spoiled by the "need to publish" and the desire to pander To "what sells"... But silly me!
Am a huge LOTR & STAR WARS fan that love to listen to very good books that are literary in nature. I especially enjoy medical thrillers.
Thought it's a good look at what was going on around World War I period in Europe & a small part of the U.S.A. Well paced, too. I kept wanting to listen to more!!
Can't think of any comparable to FALL OF GIANTS...
Yes I'd heard him read PILLARS OF THE EARTH also by Ken Follett. John does his characters really well.
Hard to say....I felt for all the characters in the story....
If you want to hear a book that has sex every five mintues then this book is for you. But if you want to learn the history of WW I then try another book. The history is obscurred by all the sex, and it gets very tiresome.
Italian translated in America in 2001, work in Hospitality industry and I am an avid listener.
The story itself and the rithm
Billy with Jesus first day in the mine
Clarity, voice and the Russian accent although it reminded me of Gru from Despicable me
Fitz, to see if I could change his attitude towards the "rest of the world" and show him you can be rich without thinking you are superior and that you can be superior without being rich.
Great audible, almost perfect with the exception of some odd pauses at weird times that made me think the volume when off for some reason to then just resume.