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Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants: Follett At His Finest

Novelist Ken Follett is on a roll. In the past few years he has published one of his most successful novels, World Without End. This was a sequel to Pillars of the Earth which was a 2007 Oprah pick. A Starz mini-series was made of “Pillars” and was well received, and now it has been announced World Without End will also get the mini-series treatment.

All of this has created a clamor from his fans for a new novel and Follett has delivered. His new book Fall of Giants is a sweeping epic that will thrill his fans for hours on end. It is also the start of a trilogy and that “continuation” makes the excitement even more palpable.

Fall of Giants follows in the tradition of Pillars and World in that it assembles a large number of characters, places them against a historic backdrop, and lets evil and goodness do battle. In Fall, the backdrop is World War I and the characters Follett creates are interwoven with actual historical figures such as Woodrow Wilson, Lenin and Winston Churchill.

The story Follett tells stretches from a mining village in Wales to a factory in Russia to the country clubs of New York. At each point there is a cast of characters waiting to tell of their part in the controversial war. We get viewpoints from all of these locales as well as from the French side.

Like any good novelist Follett makes sure the drama of the fictional is equal to the drama of the real. To do this he creates star crossed lovers who are prevented at every turn from celebrating their love. Walter von Ulrich, who is German, is madly in love with Maud Fitzherbert, who is English. The circumstances of the times in which they live play havoc with their romantic feelings and eventually place them on opposite sides in the horrendous conflict between their two countries.

Then there is Gregori Peshkov, a Russian peasant who dreams of a new life in America. He has saved his money for years but when it comes time for him to go he finds himself torn about leaving his brother Lev and a woman he has come to love. He knows that if he hesitates the political events in Russia may prevent him from ever leaving.

And the stories go on and on, filling the pages and jumping into the readers’ brains. Follett knows exactly how to tell a tale in order to get the most suspense and emotion from it. In ‘Fall’ he does it over and over again.

If you have not yet jumped on the Follett bandwagon now is the time to do so. Fall of Giants is a book for you to savor, one in which you can lose yourself for hours on end. It is a big book that tells a big story, but it is one you will not want to end.

Ken Follett is a master craftsman who is just now hitting his full stride. He has had successes before but he has never been so popular or so anticipated. Fall of Giants should be a huge success and will only serve to set up his readers for the next two installments. If they are as good as the first then bring them on quickly.

Jackie Cooper, The Huffington Post, 21 September 2010