Fall of Giants is the first book in Ken Follett’s ‘The Century Trilogy.’ It is a historic fiction novel that follows interlinked families across the events of WW1. Whilst historically accurate (as far as I know) and well written, this book is huge, and not necessarily in a good way. I’m not one to shy away from large books, but at a whopping 851 pages, Fall of Giants takes “big books” to a whole new level. I own a copy of the hardback edition, and oh my goodness it is hard to read due to its immense size and heaviness. But it is ridiculously good looking and I love having the hardbacks on my shelf. They look amazing. Before you go stampeding off to buy a hardback edition, physical heaviness is something to take into account. Attractiveness vs practicality … it’s a tough call (I went attractive and somewhat regret it … but pretty!).
Let’s talk about the story (spoiler free)! It is a whopper of a tale: epic, romantic, and full of characters both lovable and brilliantly frustrating. The story is told from the perspective of different characters, both male and female and of different ages, social class, and nationalities. It gives you the full scope of WWI and how it affected people differently (or similarly) in the countries involved. The main characters are three-dimensional and believable. I felt like I knew their drives and ambitions, fears, loves, hates, and their thought processes. Some you will love, others will frustrate you to no end with their ridiculous thinking and values. It’s awesome!
One problem I had was overcrowding. There were too many minor characters for my taste. To help with this, there is a handy reference at the beginning of the book listing all 125 characters, both major and minor, fictional and real. But I still find there to be a ridiculous amount of characters popping up throughout the book, and even with the guide, I struggled to keep up with some of the minor characters who appear throughout the book.
Follett has done his WWI research with this book and it’s as historically accurate as it could be without being non-fiction. I learned a lot of new things, particularly about the events prior to WWI. In saying that, sometimes it did feel like I was reading non-fiction. There was a little too much attention to the nitty gritty of the political side of WWI. There were a lot of conversations between characters that I felt was dry, and to be honest, boring. A few of these conversations and explanations would have been fine (I didn’t mind them at first), but because they pop up constantly throughout the entire book, I found myself getting frustrating with the repetitiveness of it.
I also felt that some historic events were rushed over. I get that this is a massive book as it is, but seriously, there was barely any mention of *a major event* (roll to the very bottom of this post if you’d like the spoiler), especially as how one character in particular would have been affected by this, was even involved in said event, but was apparently not concerned enough to mention it. I found that incredibly frustrating as it a historical event that I am particularly interested in.
This is not a book to take on lightly. Huge in size and story, Fall of Giants is great for lovers of history, particularly WWI. Despite the large number of characters to keep track of, and the nitty-gritty political talk, I still enjoyed this book immensely and have moved onto book 2: Winter of the World. I am about 200 pages in and am loving it so far.