Amy Reads Books

Fall of Giants

Fall Of Giants - Ken Follett (4.5 stars)I loved the television adaptation of The Pillars of the Earth, and whilst I haven't actually managed to read that I was really keen to pick up Fall of Giants, as the 20th century is probably one of my favourite periods of history. Follett's novel begins with a Prologue in 1911, but starts properly in 1914 and finishes in early 1924 and for the most part is pretty wonderful.Follett creates some wonderful characters, although there are lots he doesn't skimp on details about each of them. Perhaps my favourite was Maud Fitzherbert; Follett seems to have a good skill at creating strong female characters and Maud is definitely strong-willed and also rather romantic as well; her relationship with Walter is lovely. I also quite enjoyed the story of Ethel Williams, a one-time Welsh housemaid for the Fitzherberts, although at times her choices frustrated me. Follett also created characters that I was ambivalent towards, Gus Dewar for instance, seemed generally to be used as a cipher to bring in the American view and was not as well developed as his British, German or Russian counterparts. Finally in 'Fitz', Maud's older brother, Follett made a character that was incredibly unlikeable (in my opinion), and whenever he was mentioned I had to literally force myself through his sections, because all I wanted was for him to get out of the story and so I could read about the characters I actually cared about.The character's are particularly important, as we see the unfolding chaos of World War One through their eyes and from their perspectives, entwined with some more personal dramas and this works pretty well; it's especially interesting in telling the story of some of the War World 1 offensives, when you gain the perspectives of both sides.For the most part, the history aspect of the novel is well weaved in. However, the one thing that I didn't really like was probably due to the fact that I have studied aspects of the history told in the novel pretty closely, and unfortunately sometimes this distracted me from the action; for instance, it's insinuated that one of the main characters is basically the mastermind for a lot of the basics of the Petrograd Soviet, which was far from true. Sometimes character's often served as just placers for the exploration of certain historical events, although Follett did weave real characters such as Churchill, Lenin and Lloyd George into the narrative with ease.Ultimately, the novel is a great story of the changing social background in the early 20th century, with the very human side of history perfectly portrayed. I'm really looking forward to the sequel, which will apparently deal with World War Two.