I never consider myself an historical fiction reader – until I discover a work of historical fiction that grabs my attention and keeps it until the last word. That’s just what’s happened with Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. This work takes place during the years from 1905 – 1920. It incorporates the events leading up to and after World War I. It gives a marvelous insight into the workings of society in Germany, England, and Wales. It also brings us to Russia and France.
Follett tells the story of this period by following the lives of five families. You could argue that the families are all extraordinary and all overlap to a fantastical degree. Then again, one could also argue that if the reader looked backward from the ending of the third novel in this Century Trilogy, the early overlaps would make a lot of sense. (Can’t speak for that yet. I’ve just finished this first volume.)
Follett is clear that he hasn’t had a “real” person appear in a place where that person was not. He also has not had any real persons act in a way that is out of character. I know in reading the novel, the characters felt consistent to me – I have not researched them individually to know whether their characterization is accurate. Mostly I just enjoyed the story as it unfolded. Then again, I’m a fan of George Eliot, Dickens, Solzhenitsyn, Rand — my literary tastes run to the tome.
If you’re looking for a book that mixes compelling fiction in with the nonfiction, this is it!
I give it 5/5.
Get your copy here: Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy