Lucinda's Reviews > Winter of the World

Winter of the World by Ken Follett
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's review
Dec 16, 2012

it was amazing
Read in September, 2012

A truly breathtaking, epic sequel by the most remarkable writer whose literary genius is unmatched

I fell in love with Ken Follett’s writing when I read his outstanding debut ‘The Pillars of the Earth’, which opened my eyes to the wonders of a literary masterpiece that was so exquisite it literally took my breath away. Hence I could not wait to read the sequel ‘World without End’ that was truly spectacular, as Follett’s writing just knocked me speechless. His next trilogy set in World War one began with the ambitious work that was ‘Fall of Giants’ and which although it was so dissimilar to his previous works that I had loved so much, was a masterpiece of historical fiction that was just astonishing once again and so I concider myself to have been hypnotized once more! Regardless of the era, whether the narrative is set in the muddy trenches or the precincts of a great cathedral, Ken Follett’s writing is unequal to anything else and which raises the standards so high for fiction in general; as he is the equivalent to JRR Tolkien in the fantasy genre.

Winter of the World is the second installment within the Century of Giants trilogy, where five linked families live out their destinies as the world is shaken by tyranny and war in the mid-twentieth century.

Set in 1933 Berlin, Hitler is strengthening his grip on the people of Germany. Eleven-year-old Carla Von Ulrich struggles to understand the tensions between family members, as it impacts and disrupts her once stable life. Within this cataclysm and great turmoil steps her mother’s formidable friend and her former British MP, Ethel Leckwith, along with her student son Lloyd, who all too soon learns of the brutal reality of Nazism. Lloyd also encounters a group of Germans who are opposed to Hitler, but he wonders if they are prepared to go as far as betraying their own country? It is such people who are closely watched by Volodya; a Russian with a bright future in Red Army Intelligence.
The international clash of military power and personal beliefs that ensues, will sweep over them all as it rages from Cable Street in London’s east end to Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. At Cambridge Lloyd is drawn to the dazzling and totally captivating American socialite Daisy Peshkov, who represents everything his family despises. However unknown to Lloyd is that Daisy is more interested in the aristocratic boy Fitzherbert; who is an amateur pilot, partier and leader of the British Union fascists.
Meanwhile in Berlin Carla worships golden boy Werner from afar, but as the ‘twist in the tale’ goes nothing works out for them as they expect, with their lives and hopes in life smashed by the greatest war in history…

The greatest war in the history of mankind shakes the foundations of the Earth like an almighty earthquake, of bloodshed and inhumane slaughter.

This is a truly magnificent, spellbinding epic tale of global conflict and personal drama, which is uniquely ambitious, and which is a deeply satisfying trilogy. Intricately plotted and cleverly crafted down to the tiniest of details this is an epic tale that will capture your imagination, touching your heart and soul with its realism and thought-provoking poignancy. Stirring, emotive and totally candid Follett captures the harsh reality of the First World War, in all its gruesome glory by bringing it to life before your very eyes. His fictional characters merge together with iconic figures from the past, thus interweaving fiction with fact in such a way as to transport you back in time. The author’s research is so thorough that not even the smallest detail has been left out, for one can almost feel the electric tension radiating off the pages and smell the putrid stench of death; it really touches all senses as you are pulled into a world that is atmospheric and ‘alive’. It has a ‘text book’ quality to this trilogy due to the accuracy of the evidence and yet it is a tale to get lost within, where the character’s lives are as true as yours or mine set within the harshest of eras as the Nazi ruling shook the world forever.

At 815 pages long this great slab of a book is something to really stick your teeth into and which certainly kept me busy for many months, as I was glued to the pages that were filled with such magnificent writing that touches one inside. Follett humanizes history and makes it fascinating to read about, intensely emotive and so, so important thus I cannot enthuse enough about his work. The overlapping stories within this book paint a vivid, remarkable and at times heart wrenching vision of humanity at that time. Just astonishing…
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message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Pillars of the Earth was not Follett's debut, he had published at least 7 or 8 books previously, including Eye of the Needle, The Key to Rebecca, and Lie Down With Lions.

Jeroen Lemmens Well, speechless isn't quite the word I'd use for such a review...

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