This book was actually pretty amazing. I am not a fan of war stories and this book takes place during World War I and the Russian Revolution so I had my doubts. However, the author introduces you to several characters from different countries and does an excellent job introducing you to them and their families as well as getting you emotionally involved. There are several stories of romance, trials, joys, and historic backgrounds tied into this book. I actually listened to this book through Audible.com and the reader made this experience even better with his wonderful interpretations of the different accents the characters would have actually spoken with. This was a long story but never dull and kept me going and going until the very end. I loved how the ending took place even though it didn't tie up any loose ends, as this book is the first in a three part series. I can't wait until the next one comes out. Excellent book!
I did not want this story to end. Cant wait for book two!!! Fall of Giants is now my favorite book of all time!! A must read! Thank you Mr. Follett!!
I must be honest...this was the most boring presentation. I was unable to listen to more than two hours. This was my first Audible title and I must say I was very disappointed.
I love literary fiction and I occasionally delve into non-fiction. I love books that are suspenseful and am really into well-told stories.
Having become a John Lee addict, I am tending to seek him out as a narrator because I am in love with his voice. I did read Follett's other big book: Pillars of the Earth and I enjoyed that one as well. I wouldn't have read either of these books if John Lee did not narrate.
That being said...in this book, Follett was a bit high-reaching for me. The story lines were confusing and just plain boring at times and for me there were too many political discussions and too many descriptions to battle scenes that just were not that different from the previous political discussion or battle scene. I also felt that many stereotypes were used that aren't really true: Are all Russian middle-class women whores and drunks? I doubt it. Are all British Lords so baffling, brutal and cold? I doubt that as well. Was it fun to hear John Lee do an American accent? Yes... it was. (a first for me)
Follett fans will be happy, and John Lee fans will also be satisfied. I cannot fault the narrator for the material, but I can fault Follett. Will I read the next one? Probably... but this is not "literature" and I just prefer literature to pop fiction.
A fan of Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth and World without End, had high expectations for this new Trilogy. I enjoy his mixing of factually based historic information with the story lines. Anxious to get the next in line of this trilogy. If anything, the descriptions of the battles became long at times. It all ended too quickly!
Ken Follett is one of my favorite writers and John Lee is fabulous. That being said, this book was populated by characters and situations that were so blatantly and absuredly contrived that I just could not finish it. I didn't care how any of it came out. My advice is: read Pillars of the Earth and forget about this one. Ken and John are still great in my book.
and a penny for your thoughts
Ken Follett's earlier works aren't my cup of tea but since "Pillars of the Earth", I'm hooked. Trouble is, listening to John Lee to read these sagas is like water torture. His sing song delivery is so annoying it's hard to focus on the book. It's a shame because he has a beautiful sounding voice but literally delivers 5-6 syllables at a time, over and over and OVER in a repetitive pattern like a nursery rhyme. To make it worse, not only does he pause rhythmically but delivers each short phrase sing-song going up at the end of each Ken Follett's story (pause) is so wonderful (pause) I hate to listen (pause) to an abridged version (pause) but don't know (pause) if I can take (pause) Lee's reading (pause) anymore (pause). I have to keep stopping (pause) See how annoying. I suffered through "Pillars" and "WWE", eventually listening to the abridged versions afterward just to get the bad taste out of my ears. What a shame to ruin these wonderful books with less than equal reading.
If you liked Pillars of the Earth you will enjoy this book as much. It is very similar, following the love interests, political successes/failures, and career developments of a mix of inter-related characters of various social classes as they navigate through the WWI era. The mix of personal narrative and fascinating history makes for great entertainment. You get to enjoy a heavy does of political and military history along with your soap opera plot turns!
Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE Follett fan. I've read POE, WWE, Dangerous Fortune and most of his other WWII thrillers, so I was excited to read this one. This book, however, doesn't have any of the delights or surprises of his other books. It's just the plain, old Follett formula, applied over and over to the same two-dimensional characters. Step one -- each "good" character gets his own "bad" character to act as a nemesis. Step two -- the "bad" character wins the girl or otherwise bests the "good" character in some way that causes lasting consequences for both. Step three -- the "good" and "bad" characters somehow are reunited years or even decades after the fact and end up "refighting" the original battle, but with the "good" character coming out on top, and the "order" in the universe is restored. Ok, I can even tolerate a formulaic story if it's creatively and skillfully put together, but for this one, Follett just phones it in. It's honestly like he just programed the same story into his word processor and had the machine generate most of the scenes. This one is really not worth the time or effort to listen to, and I am certainly going to skip all of the inevitable, money-making sequels that follow.