Pbwritr's Reviews > Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
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U 50x66
's review
Dec 03, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: couldn-t-finish, historical-fiction
Read in December, 2010

I have plodded through this book and I'm putting it down halfway through. I don't want to waste any more time on it. I have read many of Ken Follett's books, starting with Eye of the Needle and Key to Rebecca, both of which mesmerized me decades ago; Pillars of the Earth a number of years ago, which was an astoundingly fabulous tale; and World Without End. I knew the reviews of it weren't that great, but I was intrigued by it anyway. It probably makes a difference that I am a historian, with a master's thesis written about a World War I topic. I found the recitation of WWI topics to be very, very boring. Yes, he did a good job of inserting characters into the historical timeline. I was rather put off that the famous Christmas armistice between the Germans and the western front just happened to take place where not one, but two of the main characters happened to be. There is no better book for understanding World War I than Barbara Tuchman's "Guns of August," a riveting masterpiece of nonfiction. That book was a page-turner; Follett's is not. The characters are flat. Ethel is too much NOT like the class she grew up in. All the references and inclusions to the social changes taking place are well done, I do admit, and made the book more interesting. World War I, with its politics, leaders and generals, millions of casualties, new technologies, the utter devastation for virtually no advance--is a fascinating field, but Follett did not make the war itself come alive. One of the main tenets in writing these days is "show, don't tell." Follett does so much telling that I'm tired of being talked to. I don't think this is a particularly good book, but I liked it enough to read the first 500 pages, but I like to enjoy a book, not force myself to read it. This book was most enjoyable when it focused on the Welsh coal mining, the Russian factory workers, and Lady Maud. Some of the men seem virtually interchangeable--Walter, Fitz, Robert. I won't be reading the rest of the trilogy. For those who are unfamiliar with WWI, and I grant that that will be the majority of people, this is probabaly a very good introduction to the major events and people. A writer knows his audience, and, in my case, it just happens not to be me. So that isn't Follett's fault. I just happen to have a special affinity for WWI, and rather extensive background in its research.
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Reading Progress

02/29 marked as: couldn-t-finish

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Ross (new) - rated it 1 star

Ross I am curious how you can give the book 3 stars and read only half. I am giving up after 100 pages since the book is an insult to my intelligence. One star is too generous. I only wish I had checked some serious reviews before I bought the book on the strength of the Cathedral books.

Mary Crider I'm sorry, but it is HISTORICAL fiction!

Maui Island You are so right! Comparing Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August (a wonderful book) to a fiction book makes no sense.

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