Fall of Giants

If I say to you that at times I wanted the giants to hurry up and fall, then you’ve got a fair idea of what this review is going to be like.

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?

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5 Responses to Fall of Giants

  1. Marcia Mayo says:

    I so agree. I really enjoyed Pillars of the Earth and World without End. I’m reading the Giant Book of Giants Never Falling right now and I’m frankly tired of having to tote it around.

  2. freda says:

    That’s interesting, Marcia, my other half has decided not to even start reading it!

  3. I have not read the book,nor anything else by Follett but am in the process of reading much history about this period in Russia and Britain for my grad degree. I don’t have time for fiction these days. I did read the last P.D. James last Christmas, and have ‘The Red Queen’ and ‘The White Queen’ on my “to read soon” bookcase.

    The last triology I read, and the only one I can remember ever reding was John Dos Passos trilogy USA which included the ‘Forty-second Parallel’ as the title of Volume 1. The women in my book group were amazed that I figured out the significance of the title of the first volume.

    Someday, I will have to write a post about all my exciting life as a reader of books.

  4. Anne Gibert says:

    Perhaps these historical novels read better when one knows a lot about the place and the period. I am studying — well, really glossing over — recent Chinese history and some of the novels I read in the past about the cultural revolution seem more meaningful now that I know quite a bit more about the period.

    I did the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks many years ago at University, and I don’t think I want to revisit them now.

  5. I’m still trying to find out the significance of the 42nd parallel, Dianne, cannot make sense of Wikipedia. As for Chinese history, all I have read (again long ago) is what Pearl S Buck made of it. And I can hardly remember anything except that things were hard and cruel in parts.

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