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Fall of Giants (The Century Trilogy, #1)
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Archived 2014 Group Reads > Week 8: 10/26 Ch 16-Ch 20.V

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Hello everyone! Due to popular demand I've edited this week's schedule. For this week I've combined Week 8 & Week 9's chapters so that we can read and enjoy more of the book.

What did you think of this section??


message 2: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Sarah's Comment from Speed Reader thread:


Week 8: 10/26 Ch 16-Ch 17.IV

I've only just started this section, but so far Billy's Da's "apology" consists of "I've been proud. But here's why I know best."

It's really not much of an apology. Billy joining the military was really no surprise. I was surprised that they were specifically asking coal miners not to join.



message 3: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Sarah's Comment from Speed Reader thread:


Week 8: 10/26 Ch 16-Ch 17.IV

I'm so glad to see that Maud didn't get pregnant, mainly because it would have strained believability to have so very many pregnancies. Speaking of, what about Mildred? Is little Lloyd going to have a cousin?

Somehow it seems odd that it's all the way into 1916 before we see a battle. And what a disaster of a battle it was. Even with Billy's wits gaining them an advantage they still managed to lose the battle. The only thing that was gained was a few English lives.

When I first read the comment that the French lost a quarter of a million men at Verdun, I kind of just rolled on and dismissed it as a statistic. Then I realized it was 250,000 people who had their own lives and they all died. It's so much less impressive as a statistic.

The separation allowance was actually quite interesting. The women were entitled to it but somebody else could just deny it to them based on their own biases. Especially at a time when these women have lost their main means of support and are being paid a quarter of what men would be paid in the same line of work. I can't imagine a more desperate feeling. I wouldn't be surprised if these horrid women were assaulted on a regular basis out of frustration and despair.

Fitz: Fitz himself had never organized anything more complicated than a cricket team, and the daunting complexity of the war machine made him vividly aware of his inexperience. For a moment I thought maybe Fitz had some redeeming quality. That he would take a good look at himself and become a better person. Instead he just became more annoying. Between following the orders even though he knew it was a slaughter, and his refusal to let the 16 year old boy go back, even though he had a way to save face.

That was the most terrible part of this particular section. I couldn't believe they were executing a 16 year old boy. It was absolutely terrible.

I'm wondering how severely Fitz is going to be injured.

Two curiosities:

Walter's perspective - It reminded him of the adventure stories he used to read as a schoolboy. Usually they featured square-jawed young Germans menaced by Red Indians. Why in the world would there be stories about Germans vs. Indians? They're on opposite sides of the world practically. Why would these stories exist?

Maud - She wakes to the sound of her windows rattling and is told that it's the guns in France. What is going on in this passage? I can't see how war in France would rattle windows in England.



message 4: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Nina's Comment from Speed Reader thread:



Week 8: 10/26 Ch 16-Ch 17.IV

That battle was a complete bloodbath. Imagine seeing lines after lines of comrades being shot down and knowing that you are next. It must have taken a lot of willpower to run onto that battlefield, knowing that your life would probably be over in a second.

The execution of Owen gave me a sick feeling in my stomach. I know this was what they did to deserters, but it still is a cruel practice - killing someone who is terrified of running to his death.

The battle of the Somme was apparently the loudest man-made noise in history up to that point, and the explosions were so violent that they could be heard in London where they made the windows rattle. It happened a few times throughout the war. The explosion of Messines Ridge in Belgium was also heard in London. England is not that far away from mainland Europe but it is still quite impressive that the sound travelled that far. The people who survived the battlefield must have had serious hearing problems afterwards.



Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) So far I've only read Week 8, and I have little to say because the battle didn't impact on me as it did with other readers. None of my ancestors have taken part in a modern war, so I'm a bit impartial and unemotional.

There have been many people who have lost all male members of their families. There are families (from both sides) who had 5 or 6 brothers and of their numbers only one survived to have descendants who are now alive only because their great great great grandfather wasn't killed in the war.

None of this sadness and destiny was made known in Week 8's section. We do not know of the horrors of this war yet, and the lack of details was curious as Follett failed to earn his keep. He is performing a balancing act that for me is doomed. I've heard of people from another site admit getting tear eyed reading FoG. The writer failed for me and I'm finding the fact that I'm apparent alone in this opinion quite bemusing.

I just didn't care, even if I consider myself sensitive. Has anyone watched the last episode of Blackadder's fourth season? It was a comedy and they show the troops charging to their death only momentarily but that conclusion got to me because I cared for the people in the story.

The most damage done to the characters here were committed before the War started, before the first shot was fired. The fruity style and inappropriate writing IMHO, has seen to that. Valuable ink needed to build up empathy for the characters was frittered away on cheap drama. Who is Owen Bevin? The last sentence of Week 8 carried his name but his death made no impact on me. If things go on that way, then the whole book will be less than the sum of its parts. I have not much to say about Week 8 and I rate it 3.5 stars. And this book is heading for a 2 star rating.


message 6: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 885 comments Kristi wrote: "That was the most terrible part of this particular section. I couldn't believe they were executing a 16 year old boy. It was absolutely terrible."

But if they didn't, many others would desert, and how could they have a war?

Wait a minute. That would be bad how?


message 7: by Esther (new)

Esther Definitely preferred reading a larger chunk. Found I got more emotionally involved with a longer section.


Nina (ninarg) | 79 comments Everyman wrote: "Kristi wrote: "That was the most terrible part of this particular section. I couldn't believe they were executing a 16 year old boy. It was absolutely terrible."

But if they didn't, many others wo..."


That made me laugh:)


Sarah Luffy said: "I've heard of people from another site admit getting tear eyed reading FoG. The writer failed for me and I'm finding the fact that I'm apparent alone in this opinion quite bemusing."

Believe me you're not alone! I'm also headed for a 2 star rating.


message 10: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Ch18-Ch20.V - The equivalent of Week 9

It seemed like there wasn't a whole lot to talk about this time. I was glad to see both Walter and Gus because they're actually my favorite characters. They're both so idealistic and I appreciate that about them.

In the Grigori section, I was disgusted with the corruption in the Russian army. Obviously we know these things happened but it's hard to understand why someone would allow so many people to die simply for their own gain. Also, is anybody else suspicious of Katerina? I'm not buying her love of Grigori.


message 11: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Continuation of prior post

I thought it was interesting that Germany forced France to pay reparations in 1871. I thought this was new to WWI. I was also interested in Britain's increasing debt and the idea that they would have gone bankrupt if they had lost.

I also was surprised by the armed Democrats guarding the ballot boxes! All because of a lost election forty years prior. This part actually made me laugh. I believe people in other countries would be saying "How American...".

Also interesting - Gus was elated. Four more years to try to achieve all they aimed for. They could change the world in four years. along with Ethel's determination to see her son grow up in a better world. Knowing how things turned out these are both rather sad. Ethel's son is going to end up being the perfect age for WWII.

Also, the battle of the Somme - two years? Two freaking years in the same spot? That's just horrible.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Esther wrote: "Definitely preferred reading a larger chunk. Found I got more emotionally involved with a longer section."

My thoughts exactly. The narrative does not sound too choppy and it flows better. it is still quite melodramatic, but somehow the fabric of the text is smoother when I started reading without any interruption.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Sarah wrote: "In the Grigori section, I was disgusted with the corruption in the Russian army. Obviously we know these things happened but it's hard to understand why someone would allow so many people to die simply for their own gain. Also, is anybody else suspicious of Katerina? I'm not buying her love of Grigori. "

At least, Follett explain how and why the Revolution happened. Granted, geopolitically, it was nurtured by the Germans to weaken the Russian army, but the corruption of the Russian troops and the oppression of the people on a massive scale as well as the B.S. people were fed about the exclusive nature of the Russian tzar and tzarina and the missionary role of its people did help to stir the dissatisfaction.


message 14: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex Re: "That battle was a complete bloodbath. Imagine seeing lines after lines of comrades being shot down and knowing that you are next. It must have taken a lot of willpower to run onto that battlefield, knowing that your life would probably be over in a second."

I know right? It's been a couple of days since I read that section and that's the bit I can't stop thinking about. My great-uncle died in WWII (I know, wrong war, but he was at the front) and after I read the account of the battle I just had to go downstairs and re-read the birthday card he sent to my nana from the trenches.

Hated the scene where Owen was court-marshalled. I know he was a deserter, but he was so young.

Didn't we see Walter in the trenches right before the battle where Billy's platoon took out the German trench? Was it Walter's? Is Walter still alive?


message 15: by Sarah (last edited Oct 30, 2014 04:49PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Walter's alive and well.


Kaycie | 294 comments Zulfiya wrote: "Esther wrote: "Definitely preferred reading a larger chunk. Found I got more emotionally involved with a longer section."

My thoughts exactly. The narrative does not sound too choppy and it flows ..."


Agreed with all of this! I am finding that I am also able to do a better job of ignoring the soap-opera-ish tone of the book and characters and absorb more of the story line. This book (probably much like Outlander) just doesn't have enough to discuss in smaller chunks, so its really easy to pick through and find more negatives. I think that the slower reading schedule will only harm a book of this nature, especially when we are to discuss in small pieces, and I would really like to stick to the faster schedule.

I am also no hugely affected by the description of the battle, but what is really getting to me (and it could be how Follet wrote it, but I doubt it) is how the people who are making all of the war decisions are the ones who aren't really making the sacrifices. I know that this is pretty much the same with all politics, but that is why the topic gets me so fired up. Its funny how quickly men can resolve their differences when their own asses are on the line, as opposed to when someone else has to pay up. This war and the continuation of this war are basically results of wounded pride, and its disgusting that men died because higher-ups didn't want to lose face. This was just particularly obvious with the battle of the Somme where the generals knew they didn't accomplish what they needed to with the artillery fire, but continued with the battle anyways because too much money and time had already been spent. WHAT?? Argh...

Anyways, even with the faster reading, there are still no characters I am particularly attached to, but its okay because I think I am getting more out of the story. Even if the facts are not 100% correct, I am going to remember more of the overarching ideas of WWI because of this book, and that makes the read more than worth it for me.


message 17: by Sarah (last edited Oct 31, 2014 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Kaycie said: "This war and the continuation of this war are basically results of wounded pride, and its disgusting that men died because higher-ups didn't want to lose face."

This is so true!

I'm actually attached to Walter and Gus. They're both so idealistic that it's kind of sweet. At this point I really don't like Ethel.


Kaycie | 294 comments Sarah said: "I'm actually attached to Walter and Gus. They're both so idealistic that it's kind of sweet. At this point I really don't like Ethel."

I feel like same with Ethel as with every other character...strictly neutral! I don't particularly like Ethel, but I do think her character flaws that I dislike are the fault of the author writing unreal characters...same as with everyone else.

One thing I forgot to mention, I am LOVING that this book did mention how bad a war is for an economy. I dislike that much war propoganda claims that wars create jobs to spur the economy and might even cite the roaring 20s...well, its true that they can create jobs, but they create jobs that we'd rather not need (ie making uniforms, etc), take people away from other jobs, and cost enormous amounts of money that the fake spur to the economy never make up! Go Follet!


JoLene (trvl2mtns) I like the longer chunks as well. I thought the most moving parts was the delivery of the telegrams after the Somme battle started. I looked up on Wikipedia (which I'm sure is more accurate than Follett :-D), and the concept of "pals" battalions was a real recruiting technique put into practice. The battalions were organized around commonalities (some professional, some based on schools, some just based on towns) --- with the idea that you were fighting next to your "pals". However, they discontinued after they realized that when regiments were wiped out by a battle then all the young men from a town were wiped out (or from a trade guild).

I almost laughed out loud at Walter's adventures where it sounds like he single handedly saved the day by noticing the build up of the British troops about ready to attack.

I'm enjoying hearing about all the different viewpoints about the politics at the time. I think the cost of providing all of these views with so many characters is that Follett needed to make the stories extreme so that the reader could keep track of them as individuals. So for me, not great literature, but still a compelling read that peaks my curiosity about a period that I don't know much about.


message 20: by Luffy (last edited Nov 02, 2014 04:45AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Luffy (monkey-d-luffy) Sarah wrote: "At this point I really don't like Ethel. "

I thought there were early giveaways to her superficial nature, but I'd like to know your opinion on Ethel and why you don't like her anymore.

This is a note for Week 9 Chapters 18-20.

Did mine eyes deceive me? This was a section not half bad at all. When chronicling the progression of a mediocre book, one's mickey taking brain cells are apt to look forward to future and further condemnations. This is a dangerous habit.

Though this section was far from brilliant, I wouldn't mind if the rest of FoG was in this tone and intensity. Ethel's part, and those of Grigori, Walter, and Gus and Maud were decently written. This was a stay in action and melodrama. The characters have aged a couple of years, and it was time to lay the foundation for future drama. Poor Grigori however, has remained as doltish as before the war. I rate Week 9 4/5 and await the next section with less pessimism.


message 21: by Sarah (new) - rated it 1 star

Sarah Luffy, I think what sealed it is going to be in this week's discussion. I'll answer it once that thread is open :)


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments I thought this section had a lot more character development as well as political. It's like Follett is using these characters primarily to voice what the political opinions were at the time, but he is also using the circumstances to form his characters, so it comes across more subtly.

Fitz not sending the 16 year-old kid home and his subsequent execution horrified me. I know those things happened, as well as the shooting of one's own troops, as in Grigori's situation, but it's still appalling.

It did lighten my heart that Walter was able to get a message to Maud though. It's nice to have someone to root for.


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