Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

When you open a book to find a list of characters and who they all are in relation to each other, you know you’re in for a big read. Even just looking at this huge book (all 985 pages of it, which is rather difficult to lift casually with one hand) made me realise it wouldn’t be the type of book I could read in a few days. However, it was certainly worth it.

Fall of Giants is the first in the Century trilogy and the second and third books will be released in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Each book will deal with a war and the same set of characters and their descendants. So it is worth learning that list of characters after all!

This book deals with the First World War, but eases the reader in slowly to the events leading to the war from the English, German, American and Russian sides. I have never come across a better explanation of the events from the assassination of Franz Ferdinand (not just a band) to full blown war. It was written so well and in an interesting fashion that it didn’t seem like boring old history. The book then continues into through WWI, broken down into months or days when something significant happens. It covers all aspects of the war – soldiers on each side and family at home sensitively.

The characters are also memorable – from English Maud, who falls in love with German Walter, to Grigori, the Russian soldier trying to achieve his dream. Each character is drawn well and I found that I rarely needed to refer to the list of characters at the front of the book. Real historical characters, such as Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill, also appear and interact with the fictional ones.

If I had to find a fault in this book (apart from the weight), it would be that it is more slow moving than A Dangerous Fortune but it is unfair to make the comparison. The slow build really does set the scene and reinforces the characters in your mind.

I really enjoyed this book and I hope that the next one comes soon, although I think I’ll buy it as an ebook!

Read it if: you want an in depth account of the First World War from multiple sides and memorable characters.

9 out of 10.

18 thoughts on “Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

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  1. I’ve seen this book (and yes, also Pillars of the Earth ;)) in bookstores everywhere lately and I’ve really thought about buying it… but I still have to finish a few epic fantasy series first (Wheel of Time, Song of Ice and Fire, etc). If you like this kind of stuff, you may want to try George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (of which the first book will be made into a mini-series by HBO this year), although that is about a fictional war.

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