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4.4 out of 5 stars
Fall of Giants: Book One of The Century Trilogy
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Showing 1-6 of 6 reviews(1 star)show all reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2013
With some interest, I downloaded Ken Follet’s Fall of Giants to my Kindle, and added Winter of the World to my Wish List. Having read Herman Wouk’s masterwork on the Second World War (The Winds of War, and War and Remembrance) several times, I was looking forward to Follet’s perspective. But I was disappointed.

On the positive side, the writer manages the tricky business attending historical fiction quite well. He drops fictional characters down into historical events and has them interact with actual historical individuals, without manipulating history, or creating cardboard characters that merely seem part of the scenery. The plotting of the various strands of his story is fine–though at certain points I found the long stretches of grisly battle scenes tiresome.

There was also a monotonous sameness to the sentence structure, a tendency to give us subject...verb, subject...verb, without variation. Starting a sentence with a participle (as here) was rare. I expected that level of expertise when I used to mark college papers, but it was a surprise coming from an experienced author.

Also Mr. Follet seems to have a prurient obsession with sex. I guess it sells books, but it was a turn-off for me. Every few pages (it seemed) we had a coupling, or reference to some kind of sexual activity. His men act at times like a teen-aged males with raging hormones and little sense of morality. And I noticed something. His description of illicit acts of fornication tended to be much more vivid and exciting than when he was describing sexual intimacy within marriage.

As far as I’m concerned, we’re given much more physical detail in these scenes than is necessary. Mr. Follet should take a look at Herman Wouk’s depiction of the love-making of Byron and Natalie Henry at the end of chapter 37 in The Winds of War. Two paragraphs of sheer poetry, without telling us too much. It conveys a sense of the sacredness of the moment that is lacking, over and over, in Fall of Giants.

I don’t know how many times the author uses the “F” word, but it must amount to dozens and dozens. Do some people talk that way? Yes, sure they do. But it’s unnecessary to quote them in sentence after sentence. A sense of what’s happening can be conveyed without that. “He responded with a blood-curdling oath” says it, without saying it!

I plodded on through the book, hoping things might improve, but I finally gave up three-quarters of the way through. I also removed the second book of the trilogy from my wish list. Disappointing.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
I have long been a fan of Ken Follett, who usually writes brilliantly. But this time? Well, I agree with the other reviews I have just read that gave Follett only one star. I am not a professional historian (although I am a professor emeritus of Russian Language and Literature) but why would Follett change well-known historical facts?

I mention only two. The cruiser that fired on the Winter Palace in 1917, bringing about the Bolshevik Revolution, was not the Amur but the Avrora, which is still moored across the River Neva today--it can be visited. And Germany's surrender to the allies took place not in the Palace of Versailles, but in a railway carriage--which the Germans later used again, as a piece of deliberate humiliation, for the Allies' surrender in 1918.

I was looking forward to these two well-known events in history. The fact that Follett changed them leads me to wonder how accurate his other historical descriptions are.
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on October 30, 2014
Compared to pillars of the earth, just not lovin it.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2011
Having polished this off in about 3 weeks, I should be able to say that I enjoyed the novel and could give it high marks. While I enjoyed the historical aspects and the obvious research that went into laying out the flow and sequences of events around WW1, the interplay between the characters over that complex and confusing time lacked credibility. For example, too often the players are placed at the center or near center of decision making leading up to that historic war. Maude, a 21 year old aristocratic lady, at the time when women did not have the vote in Britain, would not have had access to the elected leaders of the time, and even if she did, would then not have the creditability and knowledge to have discussions at the drop of a hat (or should I say ... over a glass of wine) with the PM of the day and through that 10 min encounter then be able to sway his thinking of the events leading up to the war. Hello....!! And then only to find herself at the next party next to a young chap who just happens to work for Pres. Woodrow Wilson of the US, and of course then be able to discuss issues related to the plans and considerations of Britain, the US, Germany in the lead up to the war. Not only that, she then falls in love with a German officer stationed in Britain who then goes on to influence Lenin and his takeover from the Czars. The character development is simplistic and lacks credibility.
On top of that, I found the writing predictable, full of clichéd phrases... which were probably not even close to those of that time in the early 20th century.
I hate to say it, but I firmly believe that a novel with so many plots and characters, forces a kind of character management relative to the story line that can only be achieved trough the use of a computer model and formula writing.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2010
Having read Pillars of the Earth and its sequel several times, the announcement about the publication of Fall of Giants was met with great excitement and anticipation. As my husband is Welsh, and Wales is a recurring theme, I so enjoyed the first few chapters then...! Maybe it's just me, but I didn't want a lesson in the history of WW1. While it was well intertwined with the fascinating lives of the central characters, reading became a chore and I found myself skipping pages, then almost entire chapters. I appreciate Ken Follett's loyalty to this period in England and other country's histories, but felt this book was far too long ' and, for me, somewhat predictable. There are so many obvious indications about what's to come in the sequels of this trilogy via the offspring of characters in this first book. I don't deny Follett is a master storyteller on an epic scale, but this book did not stir any enthusiasm in the same way as Pillars.
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5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
I am a huge fan of Ken Follett. I have been an avid reader of his books for many years. That being said, I cannot tell you how disappointing "Fall of Giants" was. Unlike the classics, "Pillars of the Earth" and "World Without End", the characters and the storyline in his latest novel are about as exciting as watching paint dry. As I continued reading, I kept telling myself, "ok, the real Follett will soon emerge". Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Given that these characters will form the basis of the second novel of the trilogy, I am truly dismayed.

Jeff Sidel
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