Fall of Giants is Ken Follett's magnificent new historical epic. The first novel in The Century Trilogy, it follows the fates of five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—as they move through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.
Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams enters a man's world in the Welsh mining pits…. Gus Dewar, an American law student rejected in love, finds a surprising new career in Woodrow Wilson's White House…. Two orphaned Russian brothers, Grigori and Lev Peshkov, embark on radically different paths half a world apart when their plan to emigrate to America falls afoul of war, conscription, and revolution…. Billy's sister, Ethel, a housekeeper for the aristocratic Fitzherberts, takes a fateful step above her station, while Lady Maud Fitzherbert herself crosses deep into forbidden territory when she falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German embassy in London….
These characters and many others find their lives inextricably entangled as, in a saga of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, Fall of Giants moves seamlessly from Washington to St. Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty. As always with Ken Follett, the historical background is brilliantly researched and rendered, the action fast-moving, the characters rich in nuance and emotion. It is destined to be a new classic.
In future volumes of The Century Trilogy, subsequent generations of the same families will travel through the great events of the rest of the 20th century, changing themselves—and the century itself. With passion and the hand of a master, Follett brings us into a world we thought we knew, but now will never seem the same again.
Exclusive interview: Ken Follett and John Lee Talk about Fall of Giants.
©2010 Kevin Follett (P)2010 Penguin Audio
"A big Book, Follett''s hugely ambitious saga is a sweeping success. Ken Follett has hit another one out of the park with the initial installment of the hugely ambitious Century Trilogy. His fans will rejoice at the richness, complexity, historical sweep and simmering lust in a saga spanning the years 1911 to 1923." (Newark Star Ledger)
"A dark novel, motivated by an unsparing view of human nature and a clear-eyed scrutiny of an ideal peace. It is not the least of Follett''s feats that the reader finishes this near 1000-page book intrigued and wanting more." (Chicago Sun-Times)
"[Follett] meticulously reconstructs an era and leads us through the follies and occasional heroics of its protagonists real and imaginary. He is masterly in conveyers so much drama and historical information so vividly...Grippingly told, and readable to the end." (New York Times Book Review)
At the very beginning I had a little trouble following all the different characters, but it wasn't long before I was completely enthralled. I always loved history but this made it so much more than just dates and places. Great read!!!
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.
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