Fall of Giants by Ken Follett | Review

I am absolutely thrilled to be writing a review for you today. I’ve been struggling a little bit to think of post ideas whilst my reading level has been lower than usual, so you might have to bear with me for the next few weeks as University wraps up for the semester. Anyway, the book I have for you today was kindly given to me as a birthday present from my university friend. Historical fiction is not one I would usually go for straight away and this one is chunky at over 800 pages. My preconceptions were so unbelievably wrong and this book was really great!

Apologies for the darkness of the image, the sun sets so early these days!

Ken Follett’s ‘Fall of Giant’ follows five different families throughout World War One. It spans many countries and many different classes. The Williams, a working class mining family, become linked to the Fitzherbert’s, aristocrats who own the coal mine of the Welsh town. Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter, a German aristocrat who is working a the Embassy in London. Both of these families lives become intertwined with Gus Dewar, an American working with the President as well as the Peshkov brothers, who are living in poverty in a tumultuous Russia. When the war breaks out, each family must face the prospect of fighting against friend and foe.

I admit, I knew very little about the war going into this book. I had a vague impression of how it started and the years it covered, which is terrible. This book really opening my eyes to what actually happened, and although I realise it is fictional, the history really shines through off the page. So, if you, like me, feel daunted by historical fictions because of a lack of knowledge then I urge you to not let that stop you from picking up Fall of Giants. I actually learnt a lot, especially related to the political unrest throughout the country as well as the class divisions that were rife at that time. I’m glad that I was also able to learn about the experiences of different countries rather than a Britain-centric or American-centric approach that seems to be the most common. This book covered a lot of historical bases and a lot of time, but it did it extremely well in my opinion.

As soon as I read the prologue of this book which details Billy William’s first time down a coal mine, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It starts where my own family history comes from, a mining town. I found that so compelling, especially given my personal connection to it. From then on, as a reader you are thrown in to the lives of a cast of many many characters. Surprisingly, this doesn’t become overwhelming and each flows effortlessly from one to the other. Of course, there are some that you prefer more than others, but each is well fleshed out and detailed. I don’t think you could say that there is one particular character that is given more attention than another. Each characters story felt complete…..other than the fact that this series has two more books, of course.

I would have to say that my favourite storyline remains that of the William’s and the Fitzherbert’s. It was really nice to get a balance of the political unrest, the conflict and heartbreak of the war and also some familiar struggles that you can still relate to the modern day now. We have scandal and secret relationships, love and lust, all in this incredible setting. If you’re looking for love, you’ll find that in here. If you’re looking for a political discussion and questions of class, you’ll find it here. It really is a saga. Of course, to fit all of that into one book, it is quite big. I admit, it took me a while to read it but that was because I’ve been so busy doing other university work as well, I haven’t been able to give it as much time as I would have liked. However, it is such a compelling story that the size does not feel like a big deal at all. In fact, I’m glad of it. I loved getting to know every inch of these characters.

Highly, highly recommend this one. I’ll be picking up the next book in the series as soon as I get the chance.

Rating: 4 stars

Have you read this one? What did you think?

Amie x

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