Winter Of The World by Ken Follett, is the epic second novel in the Century Trilogy and revisits the lives of the characters created in Fall Of Giants. The original cast of characters returns along with their now growing children as they face the most terrifying years we’ve seen as a planet. The Second World War. This historical fiction follows the lives of American, British, Russian, and German families as they struggle and battle to survive the horror that becomes the Nazi Party in Germany. Brilliantly set against the backdrop of World War Two, the conflict is depicted through the personal stories of the characters as they develop, grow and triumph…or are lost.
Brilliantly told, these families who’s lives seem to intertwine time and again, paint an epic picture of the age and fit seamlessly into the historical events of the era. Follett leaves one wanting to immediately pick up the final book in the trilogy Edge Of Eternity.
This is my second Ken Follett novel, having read Fall of Giants almost two years ago. It was easy to fall back into the story of these characters as they struggle through the historical events of World War Two. Follett’s style with this novel is to have each character appear briefly on the stage that is the page before you to share a part of their struggle. Their own personal point in the history that was unfolding over the planet, and brings home to the reader an intimate story of one persons place in the grand scheme. As each character rises to the foreground and then fades back as the next character comes to light, Follett builds an epic tapestry of life with each individual becoming rich and full in its moment.
The story itself has moved ahead in years from the first novel and the original characters slide slightly into the background as their children take the reins of the storytelling and the transition is both seamless and well written. It maintains enough of the original novel while bringing a new set of stories to life.
Some of the novel is a difficult read as Follett is a master of making his words create a mental picture in the reader’s mind. One such picture deals with the horrific murder of a German citizen arrested because he wouldn’t sell his restaurant. The writing is bold, graphic and leaves nothing to imagination, leaving the reader to fully experience the raw horror that was the Nazi party Germany in the 1930s.
Other reviews have hinted criticism of the length of the piece. Nine hundred and sixty pages, which are jam packed with story. To this one can only respond that it is World War Two! To tell it in any less detail or space would have drawn away from the conflict and Follett’s style of looking at the conflict from all sides. The only true disappointment comes from a lack of view from the Canadian perspective, and maybe more importantly the Japanese (two of their cities were bombed with massive casualties) who’s voices seem silent in this piece.
Jumping Off Points!
Too many to list them all…however, here are four that caught my interest.
This one gets a rare five out of five. The writing is detailed and accurate, the characters are deep and memorable and the combination of history and fictional story fitting together brilliantly leave me anxious to read the third and final in the series.
Well done Mr. Follett, well done!
Ken Follett arrived in 1978 with his first novel Eye Of The Needle, and has written over 20 novels, he has won several awards including The Edgar for his first novel Eye of The Needle which also became a movie. Born in 1949 in Cardiff Wales we was the son of a tax inspector and attended University College London. He has an extensive website which outlines his life and novels. Please check it out for further information.