This is my second Ken Follett novel. My first was Pillars of the Earth, one of the most brilliant books I have ever read.
Fall of Giants is a great book as well but didn’t have for me the same spellbinding story and imagery Follett created in Pillars of the Earth.
But I still loved it. The story begins in 1911 in a coal mine in Wales, and follows a series of families; Billy Williams and his coal-mining family of Wales; The Earl of Fitzherbert and his family – the wealthy land and mining family; the von Ulrichs – Austrian cousins of the Fitzherberts; American Gus Dewar; and Russian brothers Grigori and Lev Peshkov.
These main families and characters are used to build an intriguing story of the years leading up to World War I and the entire war time for these characters. Additionally the novel covers in detail themes of working class people in the coal mines and poverty in Russia as that country finds itself falling headlong into a revolution.
The brilliantly developed characters provide the story a platform to focus on important themes of the era including class structure and wealth disparity; women’s rights and the suffrage movement; aristocratic empowerment leading to the uprising of the lower classes; and the many poor decisions made by European leaders that made WWI so long and deadly – ultimately bringing Germany to its economic knees leading to the rise of Hitler.
Follett is one of our generations most talented story-tellers and I am a big fan.
Five stars for Fall of Giants. Read last week’s review of Stay and Fight.