Tuesday, February 14, 2012

'Fall of Giants' by Ken Follett

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 978-0-330-53544-1

Length: 941 Pages

What the 'blurb' says: 'Five families are brought together through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for votes for women.

It is 1911, and the coronation day of King George V. Thirteen-year-old Billy Williams begins his first day of work in a coal mine.

The Williams family is connected by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-miners, Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of Gus Dewar, ambitious young aide to U.S President Woodrow Wilson. Two orphaned Russian brothers soon become involved, but Grigori and Lev Peshkov's plan to emigrate to America falls foul of war, conscription and revolution.'

Opening Line: '22 June 1911- On the day King George V was crowned at Westminster Abbey in London, Billy Williams went down the pit in Aberowen, South Wales.'

What's good with this novel?

The opening to this novel is gripping. It was so gripping, that during about the first 100 pages, I couldn't put this book down. When Follett focuses on the purely character elements of the story, the writing is brilliant.

I found the conflict between the miners and the issue with the safety within that work environment, very interesting. I also liked the elements which talked about votes for women.

What's wrong with this novel?

Whilst I found the character focused elements within this novel gripping, I felt that 'Fall of Giants' was too bogged down with war strategy and indepth description about war. At times, I almost felt as if Follett was glamourising a war which, in my opinion, was useless anyway.

I was also disappointed to find that even though Follett sets the multiple characters within 'Fall of Giants' successfully, I felt that he did not maintain equal attention to them throughout the novel. During most of the novel, the story focuses on one or two of the characters which were heavily involved in war or politics then at the end, Follett hastily concluded the stories of the remaining characters.

The pace of this novel is unsatisfactory also. Whilst the beginning of the novel was well paced, I found the rest of it to be slow and at times, rather boring. To be honest, I was desperate to end this novel, because it could not hold my attention throughout its 941 pages and I couldn't wait to start something new. I was also disappointed with the ending of this novel.

Is this worth a read?

If you enjoy novels which focus heavily on war, you may enjoy this. If you are looking for a novel which more character driven, you will be disappointed.

Have you read this novel? What are your thoughts on it?


  1. Ken Follett has a great reputation as an author, yet I cannot read his books. They are just not interesting to me. Thank you for this review. You did a great job. Your bookblogs.ning friend.

  2. Well done for getting through this! I don't mind, and quite relish (no pun intended!) the thought of getting stuck into big tomes, HOWEVER, they have to keep things moving for me. I saw this book in the library last week and I was impressed you were still persevering! Fab review x