Alec's Reviews > Fall of Giants

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
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Jul 20, 11

Read from July 06 to 15, 2011

One of the best parts of completing an epic non-fiction opus (in this case, The Prize), is diving back into the world of fiction and all its narrative-based, dialogue-driven splendor. It's a lot like the four day work week after a three day weekend, or perhaps more aptly, cresting the top of a hill (mountain) on a road bike and kicking it into high gear for the down slope. (Note: all road bike metaphors will now and forever be based on rumors and hearsay.) At 900-some pages, Ken Follett's most recent piece of glowing historical fiction should have seemed daunting, but after climbing The Prize, Fall of Giants felt like nothing more than a pleasant coast into a lush literary valley. I'm not sure that metaphor worked, so let me clarify and say, "I read Fall of Giants quickly, and it was fun."

Fall of Giants is written in a very similar style to Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, but instead of being set in the medieval times, it is set in the World War I era. The intermingling lives of the many characters were as entertaining as ever, but there was one small problem that kept this from realm of the 5-star elite: I know the history of World War 1. Not exactly, of course, but I have at least some vague awareness that the lead singer of some alt-rock band was assassinated leading to a bloody stalemate and the Germans eventually "losing" the war after the US joins the chlorine-gas filled trench party.

Now, in many ways, weaving fictional tales into existing historical events is a wonderful device that I enjoy and have written about before, but in this case, it basically ruined the suspense for many of the story arcs. Ending a chapter with a "possibility of peace" cliffhanger when the US is still 2 years away from entering the war does not really get my heart pumping. Despite that drawback, it was fun to look at the way the aristocrats (fictional, of course) from the different nations had been friends prior to the war and then became enemies, despite still caring about one another. That's a classic tale of war, of course, but it is one of which I do not tire.

I'd recommend this book to all who enjoy historical fiction, provided you are willing to sacrifice all restful slumber from start until completion of the book. Seriously, from a "how am I going to look at work tomorrow" standpoint, I would put "reading a Ken Follett book before bed" on par with about 7 shots of gin. Not a night went by where "maybe just a few chapters" didn't turn into "I guess 3 hours of sleep is basically as good as 4." Mr. Follett, you are directly responsible for my recent Concealer purchase. I hope you're happy.

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Donahue Great description of the post-nonfiction coasting.

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