Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Winter of the World

by Ken Follett, Dutton Adult, September 2012

...read the first installment of this trilogy and then decide whether to read this one

This is the second installment of Ken Follett’s 20th century trilogy.  It picks up the story in 1933.    There are five interrelated families (how you ask – way too complicated for this review) Welsh, German, English, Russian and American that were introduced in the first book Fall of Giants.  Instead of the narrative being led by the characters from the first book we get the story from the perspective of their children.  All of the major events that occur between the early ‘30s and the end of World War II are seen through the eyes of these characters.  The Spanish Civil War, the rise of fascism in Germany, the Stalinist purges in Russia, the fighting in Europe and the South Pacific and much more make this one of the most tumultuous decades in the 20th century lending a great backdrop to this story. 

I found most of the characters to be somewhat clich├ęd and one dimensional but not unlikeable.   I knew this when I bought this book as the first book of the trilogy was much the same.  This book was 962 pages so I guess I am just addicted to historical fiction such as this because I read it in a fairly short period of time and enjoyed it.  I think this whole series would be better with a stronger focus on the character development and perhaps leaving aside some of the historic events.  I am sure this is what the TV miniseries (no doubt in my mind that one will be made) will do and I bet it will much improve it.  I would not read this without having read Fall of Giants first.  After you read the first story you will be able to make up your own mind as to whether to go forward with this one.

I read the Kindle copy of this story which at $20 was way overpriced.  Not sure what to recommend here as the book itself must weigh close to 5 pounds and would be uncomfortable to hold for however long it would take you to read it.  Maybe Amazon will reduce the price for the electronic copy.


Zibilee said...

My uncle gave me the first book in this series last yer at Thanksgiving, but I haven't read it yet. You are right about it being a chunkster, and that alone sort of puts me off, because I seem to be having some failure to launch when it comes to finishing long books. I do think the story sounds interesting, and I have loved Follett before, so it's really just a matter of time. Very clear and decisive review today. I appreciated your perspective.

Kimberlee said...

I loved loved 'Fall of Giants' and I cannot wait to get my hands on this one..maybe someone will get it for me for Christmas..Fingers crossed. Loved your review and I am so excited to read this.