... two historical novels laid the foundation for what no doubt will be Follett’s most audacious literary adventure: The Century Trilogy. If the first installment – the recently published Fall of Giants – is any sign, readers are in for a memorable, and lengthy, ride ... In Fall of Giants, he manages to steer more than 100 significant characters (fictional and real figures both stride across Follett’s vast stage) amid the buildup and subsequent carnage of World War I ... He allows a glimpse or two of everyone from King George V to Woodrow Wilson without sacrificing narrative momentum and while maintaining the story’s all-important verisimilitude ... Happenstance and coincidental meetings abound as Follett conjures twists and turns of fate that feel true ... It is here that Fall of Giants offers the reader consistent satisfaction.
His new novel, Fall of Giants, is the first volume of a projected trilogy in which the 20th century has replaced the Middle Ages as a stage for life’s grandeurs and miseries, but the book’s narrative structure is the same: multiple plot strands woven through a vast tapestry of times past ...various upheavals remake the world, affording plenty of scope for action, and Follett takes full advantage of this opportunity. Apart from the destinies of the monarchs, we follow the intertwined fates of five families, rich and poor, in Wales, England, Germany, Russia and America...the book’s main theme: the superiority of broad-mindedness and liberal thinking over unthinking adherence to the old ways, especially those exemplified by the decadent aristocracy ... Ken Follett is no Tolstoy, but he is a tireless storyteller, and although his tale has flaws, it’s grippingly told, and readable to the end.
At almost 1,000 pages, Fall of Giants, weaves the fictional lives of five families and some 100 secondary characters through the years between June 1911 and January 1924 ... Follett wants us to see how, creating characters to take us through this history ... Some of these figures are memorable, others not. Too often, they have long conversations, telling each other what they already know so we'll know it. At those times, they become props, and less compelling ... The novel is well researched. The war feels particular in the details, familiar in its scope ... Reading for story, this book delivers a good sense of the early 20th century.