After Pillars of the Earth and World Without End I was excited to submerge myself in Ken Follet’s latest work and another of John Lee’s narrations. Yikes. There is such a disconnect between those books and this. In Fall of Giants the characters are flat - the reading takes me back to story time in grade school, overly dramatic, the conversations between and of characters seemed contrived, unimaginative, unnatural and even laughably serious. Maybe I remember Pillars and World with a distorted and unfounded fondness which made it difficult for this book to compete – I don’t know – it seems these were written to ride on the shirt tales of success of the others (?) I don’t get it.
If I could use only one word to describe this novel that word would be: tedious. The characters are boorish, shallow, and poorly developed. I thought this might make World War I and the Russion Revolution interesting and understandable, but quite frankly I'd rather read a text book.
For those who enjoyed his medieval novels and did not find them trite, you will enjoy this book and, no doubt, his next two. For myself, I was greatly disappointed since, at the beginning of Follett's career, I enjoyed his books. They have never been great literature, but they also were never so shallow and predictable as they have become. He sandwiches a lot of history into this novel. Again, if you are unclear about what was going on around the time of WWI, it might add to the interest level. But his characters are stereotyped and his plot weary and worn.
Other reviewers had warned that the book was superficial; they were right. Some reviews also mentioned that it had way too much sex, and I discounted as being a moral judgment; it's not: as a book it has way too much sex description that don't add anything to the book. I hoped to learn more about what triggered the World War I, but I didn't. I did learn more about the relationship between the war and the russian bolshevique revolution.
The narrator is very good. I kept listened as if it were as soap opera. It didn't require paying much attention. I hope to skip the second installment of this trilogy, but I may succumb because I do like long books .....
Ken Follett consistently tells a great story, but he doesn't write well. It seems to me that he must be paid by the page because there is always more information necessary to effectively tell the story. To palate this book on audio, you have to become deaf to the overuse of "however", "nevertheless", and "suddenly". If you have the hardcopy, this misuse of words can be skipped over, as well as the gratuitous sex and descriptions that do NOT enhance the story line. Otherwise, a good book.
Any historical fiction that prompts the reader to take a deeper look at the history of the period depicted earns, my respect. This is exactly what Fall of Giants did for me. I wanted to read more of what the historians have to say about the time period. Only reason I didn't give this novel 5 stars is because of the many characters and intertwined plot which make it hard, at times to follow. But well worth persevering!
This is Follett at his Best! Again!. I have about 3 hours to finish listening to this great history lesson. I have learned a lot about history from great authors like Fottett. I couldn't remember how WWI came about. But looking at it through the eyes of characters of that time clarifies it for me. What I find most interesting is Russia, Lenin and how the revolution happened. And the characters are great, 'Good' ones and 'Bad' ones. I hate for it to come to an end. I can't wait for Part 2 to come out. I recommend this to everyone, whether they like to read or listen. I makes my commute something to look forward to instead of dread.
Everybody who's read a lot of Ken Follett understand a couple key points: 1) he's hot and cold - writing some incredible novels and some terrible dogs, and 2) he likes to put a random sex scene in to keep things spicy.
I really wanted to like this book and by listening to it, I was able to finish it. If I had been reading it, I would have quit long before I got half way in. The individuals' stories don't connect much and are not that interesting. The history lesson is good. Hearing about how the Red Army comes to power in Russia is interesting. Hearing the phrase, "and when he entered her" several times in a 1,000 page historical fiction was a little creepy.
Articulate, sonorous and dull dull dull. Did I say dull? No sparkle, charm or life. Has the taste of a sandwich left in the fridge for 2 days, meaty and substantial but lifeless and dry. It is as if an outline of the period's news events was created and characters stuffed in; or Follet took an 8th grade history book and introduced minor plot lines into it with a sprinkling of harlequin sex. I'm a history lover, WWI/II buff and often bury myself in turn of the century period piece novels, but the minutia here is relentless and mind-numbing. If you're looking for a meaty read with passion and life pick up any Michner...or if you're up to it War & Peace; or go Pulitzer Prize with Herman Wouk and The Winds of War; or better yet skip all the detail and go modern with passion, love and war by wrapping your ears around Ian McEwan's Atonement. Like Russia? Save yourself 20 hours of pain and banging your head against the wall from listening to Fall of Giants; settle in, and watch the sumptuous feast of Warren Beatty in the film "Reds". John Lee is fine as narrator as always, but if this is truly the first of 3 novels I am stopping here.
This is a multi character sweeping story that spans World War I from Russia to the United States. Not only is it attention holding but very informative about that period of time. I recomment it highly.