01 February 2011

Fall of Giants

I finished this book last month; we read it for book group, which was supposed to be in December but had to be postponed. I was actually glad it was postponed because it gave me a chance to finish the book. I was just really busy with everything else that was going on around the holiday season (but I’ll get to that in another post). Anyway, onto Fall of Giants.

Ken Follett’s tome – I use that word deliberately because, at over 1,000 pages, the book itself was quite hefty. This was an example of when I am really happy that I have a kindle – I know that I couldn’t carry a book that size around in my purse, and I like to read wherever I can. The kindle was a lifesaver with this book.

The stories in the book revolve around different families in different countries during World War I. Some of the characters were more likable and relatable than others, and some of the stories were more intriguing than others, but overall I really thought that Follett’s novel showed a very clear understanding of the period and the nuances of the different experiences of WWI. Follett could find a very lucrative career writing History books for people who need history to be personalized in order to really understand it; at times, especially during the battle sequences, the historical detail can begin to get a tiny bit dry, but I still found myself able to enjoy it, even though I don’t consider myself much of a military history enthusiast. (Incidentally, I read in the acknowledgments that Follett employs a company called “Research for Writers” in New York to help with his research for these massive undertakings – will you please hire me?)

I also really appreciate the fact that Follett clearly has a plan. I know that there are two more books in the series, and I think that I would have been let down a little if I had not known there was a sequel coming. The ending, which I thought did an excellent job of closing the action of the book, felt a little unfinished, but that’s because the story itself is unfinished.

I did feel like, at times, Follett was forcing the various characters to all have children at approximately the same time for the sake of the trilogy and, while I appreciated the insight into the battles, I wish that there hadn’t been quite so many in such detail. Other than these two criticisms, I really enjoyed the book, and I felt like I learned quite a bit from it, since he makes it a point to relate things that realistically could have happened, especially when he has real historical figures in the fictional story.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy history, who enjoy the time period, or simply enjoy an excellent story and appreciate Follett’s writing. It really pulls a person into the story.

My rating: 4.5/5

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