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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ken Follet: The Century Trilogy


As a young author, beginning some three decades, ago he wrote suspense/thrillers. Although not a big fan of that genre, I liked Eye Of The Needle, The Man From St. Petersburg and Lie Down With Lions. Then, in 1989, he wrote something completely different. It was Pillars Of The Earth, a wonderful story of love and devotion surrounding the building of a cathedral in the early Middle Ages. That novel of historical fiction remains, to this day, as one of my all time favorites.

 
 
I write, of course, of Welsh author Ken Follet, who’s historical novel, Fall of Giants, I just reread.

It is the first novel in The Century Trilogy, and follows the fates of five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh, as they move through the world-shaking events of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

So what did I think of the series? It’s well done on the vast scale of historical events. The cast of characters, ranging from the real to the imagined, keeps you interested. Follett  always tells good stories. Still, it's not War and Peace nor Pillars of the Earth. This somewhat lesser interest for me is fairly easy to explain . In Pillars I knew little about life in the twelfth century and even less about building a cathedral. The history in those two books, as well as the characters was quite fascinating. That combination was not quite there for me in Fall of Giants. The history of WWI and the countries involved were well known to me. And, of course, to Follets specialty is always the tale which pulls you along rather than the depth of characterization. He weaves the tapestry of people and events together extremely well.

In many ways this book reminded me a good deal of another authors great historical novels. That would be Herman Wouk, whose best sellers set in World War II, Winds of War & War and War and Remembrance, had the same format.

As a history teacher, I like to see good history accurately portrayed in an engaging story. If that’s your cup of tea, I’d recommend it The Century Trilogy most wholeheartedly......

11 comments:

Out on the prairie said...

I might be slow with 12th century history a bit. Sounds fun however.Been pounding walleye the last 3 days.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am a fan of Ken Follet and became one with Pillars series. Who'd have thought the building of a cathedral and old English politics would be so captivating?
I also read and enjoyed his Century Trilogy. I need to check to see if he has any new ones out.

Anvilcloud said...

I read Pillars, and ever since, I have not been sure whether I liked it or not. I certainly haven't rushed to read anything else of his. More likely I have been keen to avoid. My goodness, that sounds negative, but as I said, I'm just not sure.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I am sure I have not read anything by this author. But if you liked it i probably would too. Got spring there yet? Send me some Robins! :)

Sam I Am...... said...

I remember Ken Follett but never read anything of his as I really was only familiar with his earlier work which didn't appeal to me. I may have to actually read some of those. They sound fascinating. Thank you for the review and titles. Happy Spring!

Janie said...

I agree with your assessment. I enjoyed the Fall of Giants series but I really loved Pillars of the Earth. I felt I learned a lot I didn't know about life in another time.

Valerie said...

I have never read any of Ken Follett's work. Having read this post I think I should remedy the situation. Amazon, here I come.

Sarah Laurence said...

I always appreciate your historical fiction recommendations when I'm looking for a book for my husband. I've read a lot of WWII fiction too but few live up to Wouk's series, which I read for fun in high school.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I liked these! I'm not sure I'd read the Revenant, thought!

NCmountainwoman said...

I have all three of these sitting on a library shelf. I loved Pillars of the Earth. I started Fall of Giants and found it not nearly as good. So there they sit. Perhaps I'll get around to them.

Sally Wessely said...

I read all three. I did not like Edge of Eternity at all. I felt like he really lost a lot of the style and was tired of his project by the time he got to the third book. I really am not a fan of Pillars either. It was ok in my estimation, but I know that many really loved that book.