While I was absent for almost 3 weeks, I did a lot of reading and the first book on my list was the third book in Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy: Edge of Eternity.
In this third and final installment, we get to read about the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Ironically, the reason that I enjoyed the second book in the trilogy (Winter of the World) less than I did the first (Fall of Giants) is the same one why I thoroughly enjoyed this third book: familiarity.
This time, seeing a period of history that we know so much about through the eyes of Follett gave another dimension to the reading. One of the best-covered subjects in the book is the civil rights struggle. The fact that only 50 years later, we elected a multi-racial President is a testament to the greatness of our country, even though we still have a long way to go in the fight for equality.
What is also amazing about the book is the coverage of so many other subjects like the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy’s, Martin Luther King Jr., Vietnam, Watergate, the hippie movement including drugs, and even rock-and-roll. Follett reminds us that a lot happened in those 20 years, and does so thoroughly using the descendants of the characters found in the first and second books. But he also gives us new tidbits of information that have the well-known Follett fly-on-the-wall feeling.
My strongest criticism of the book is that it contains too many [detailed] sex scenes. Frankly most of the sex is gratuitous. Granted, I guess that if you’re going to write a book over 1000 pages long on history, sex is the best way to ensure that laypeople (pun totally intended) will get through it. But these sex scenes took away some of the subjects’ gravitas and made the book much longer than it needed to be.
Now, you’re probably wondering which of the three books in the trilogy is my favorite, but even if you’re not I will tell you. Fall of Giants is the best book in the trilogy in the same way that Pillars of The Earth was the best book of the cathedral-building duology that concluded with World Without End.
That said, however, I really loved Edge of Eternity. It pulled me in from the very first page, and I couldn’t put it down. In any case, with the Century Trilogy, Ken Follett has created an epic work. But, to be honest, the Century trilogy is not literature, it is certainly not academic. It’s simply a highly readable work that combines history and fiction to give us a very detailed look of the 20th century that is enjoyable and informative, and that shouldn’t be ignored.