Tuesday 14 January 2014

Book Review-Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Title: Fall of Giants 
 Author: Ken Follett
Series:  The Century Trilogy #1
Published:  3 June 2011 by Macmillan
Length:850 pages
Warnings: : Graphic war and otherwise realistic violence, past attempted rape,
Source: Library
Other info: Ken Follett has written many many things.
Summary : This is an epic of love, hatred, war and revolution. This is a huge novel that follows five families through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women. It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family, is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, "Fall Of Gaints" 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.

Review: 1911- Billy Williams, age 13, starts his job as a coal miner. His sister, Ethel, works for the Fitzwilliams, the owners of the mine-the earl, and his sister, Maud. Maud falls in love with German embassy worker, Walter von Ulrich. Meanwhile, brothers Lev and Grigori Peshkov dream of  a better life in America, where young Gus Dewar is trying to get through in politics. But with war on the horizon, will any of their plans really work out?
Having loved the Pillars of the Earth series, I was open to reading more Ken Follett. Then I got told to read Fall of Giants, so I did (eventurally).
Follett's talent for writing awesome, and also real, women, shines through in Ethel and Maud, and nearer the end, Rosie. They're all talented, and Ethel's work  for the womens' rights movement is amazing. Fitz is such a disappointing character. He's really nice to start with and then turns into a giant ass and I know it's good (if backwards) character development but still having to flal out of love with a character is not bad. The characters I felt most for were Grigori and Lev, probably more Grigori because he gets a really bad deal out of all of it really.  
It's told over a much tighter time period to the other Folletts i've read, which I quite liked because it meant we could get closer to the characters and not have to fill in the gaps quite as much.
I like the fact that as well as the First World War and women's suffrage movement, we get the Russian Revolution in detail. In history lessons, most of it's Western based, or at least involves them, and it's nice to learn something completely different.  The facts are weaved in seamlessly, made part of the story, and there's a nice author's note at the end about his authenticity of facts.
The atmosphere is built really well, especially the more negative ones built around places like starving Germany, starving Russia and the battlefields. Some of them, the Somme scene especially was very emotional  indeed.
What didnt I like about this? Some of the characteers I disliked. Also, it's quite predictable, especially Grigori and Lev's stories, and some of the mionr characters felt a bit stereotypical, like the Vylovs.

Overall:  Strength 4.5, just more a 4 tea to a detailed, emotional historical epic.

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Thanks for taking time to read this!
Comments are much loved.
Nina xxx

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