Using the same wizardry evident in earlier volumes, Follett puts the right person in the right place at exactly the right time, including a Russian journalist in Cuba during the missile crisis, an English ex-pat sent by a U.S. news agency to cover the fall of Communism, and an escapee from East Berlin who ends up in San Francisco, lost in the Haight-Ashbury drug culture. By ushering a cast of hundreds across the world over three generations and 90 years of history, Ken Follett has achieved the literary equivalent of herding cats ... The result is an ambitious, masterful, page-turning, utterly absorbing series based on the theme of evolving political systems. Thus the focus is on right-thinking people throwing off repression and struggling to establish truly representative governments.
— Extract from a review by Lisa Verge Higgins in the New York Journal of Books
— Read the full review here.
What Follett has achieved in these novels is remarkable, juggling plots and characters and timelines while keeping the pages turning over the course of three long but very satisfying books.
— Erik Spanberg in The Christian Science Monitor.
He is able to create characters so vivid it is easy to keep them alive in our mind … What is most impressive about this book and the two that preceded it, is the fact Follett never forgets he is telling a story. The historical events are the backdrop but the characters are the focal point. Good storytellers know this and Follett is an excellent one. We can only anxiously anticipate what he will present to us next.
— Jackie K Cooper in the Huffington Post
This mesmerizing final installment is an exhaustive but rewarding reading experience dense in thematic heft, yet flowing with spicy, expertly paced melodrama, character-rich exploits, familial histrionics, and international intrigue.
— Publishers Weekly, 23 June
The Century Trilogy concludes with this historical novel that captures the essence of historical events from 1961 to 2008. It is thrilling in its evocation of critical events and their participants, who capture the successes and failures of freedom’s evolution in America, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Vietnam and more notable places.
The early conflict of the Freedom Riders, who began the fight for civil rights for African-Americans, is riveting reading. The leadership and shocking deaths of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Bobby Kennedy are depicted as suddenly and dramatically as they occurred, as well as the legacy they left with regard to the Berlin crisis, the attempts at segregating public facilities and educational institutions, the conflict in Vietnam, and more. The evolution of communism in Russia, Germany and Poland is documented in its notorious stages. Bitter rivalries and debates fill these pages with the intensity that is normal for this author’s writing style; this enriches the readers’ experience, as it is so full of human ability, deception, and manipulative machinations. Popular culture is also given its due as music evolves from the acceptable social norm to rock music and lyrics which parallel the increasing demand for freedom and human rights.
What makes this all work so phenomenally well is that we follow the story through a set of characters who live and engage in all these events over the years, with romance, terror, frustration, determination, fury and celebration. It is their involvement that saves this novel from just being a skimming of the surface of history, and it’s a glorious conclusion to a remarkable trilogy that is wonderful, exhilarating reading for all ages. Fine, fine historical fiction!
— Viviane Crystal, Historical Novel Society HNR 69
Those eagerly awaiting volume three of Follett’s ambitious Century Trilogy will not be disappointed. Despite the long wait — Winter of the World was published in 2012 — both the history propelling the multiple plots and the third generation of the interrelated cast of characters are so familiar, readers should have no trouble picking up the threads of the story line left dangling at the end of the previous installment.
Spanning the globe and the latter third of twentieth century, this saga continues to follow the lives and loves of the members of five global families, as they struggle against a backdrop of tumultuous international events. As the years roll by, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the crumbling of communism are intimately viewed through the eyes and emotions of a representative array of witnesses to history. Follett does an outstanding job of interweaving and personalizing complicated narratives set on a multicultural stage.
High-demand backstory: Follett needs no hard sell. The previous two installments of the ambitious Century Trilogy were best-sellers; expect no less from this superb concluding chapter.
— Margaret Flanagan, Booklist, 1 June