Having given Ken Follet’s earlier book, World Without End ten out of ten, I was quite frankly rather disappointed that his latest offering – Fall of Giants – gets bogged down, both in the mire of the First World War and the machinations of the Russian revolution and civil war. Think history book and you might get the picture. The people tend to take second place to what is going on in the world rather than the easier to read devise of the characters leading the story.
In addition to the Russian, German and British characters (of aristocratic and working class families) we are introduced to American old money and a criminal dynasty. The 6-page Cast of Characters rivals War and Peace, which I put aside to eagerly get my eyes on Fall of Giants. The book is supposed to be the first of a trilogy covering the 20th Century. I’m not sure if I shall bother to read the rest of them.
In mitigation there are some well-drawn characters giving a twist to sub-plots and the main plot. The theme of socialism in Britain is well covered but gets skewed into Bolsheviks, Mensheviks etc in Russia. The first half was much more readable than the second, which is a great shame. Also there were pointers set out in families which made it clear where the next book is ultimately going.
It gets a grudging score of six out of ten from me, though I am wondering if I am being too harsh. Has anyone else read it?