Well, I finally finished Winter Of The World, Ken Follett’s second book in The Century Trilogy. This second installment is on WWII and on the sons and daughters of the characters we met in the first book, Fall Of Giants.
This is going to be a pretty short post because I really don’t have much to say. Even though I’m a fan of Ken Follett’s writing and I’m thrilled that he decided to write about the 20th century, I found this book to be less interesting than the first. This is probably due to two main reasons. The first is that, going in, I knew more about WWII than WWI. So this second book did not hold as many fascinating details for me as the first. The second reason has to do with the characters.
Follett does a superb job on character development in the first book. We get attached to these “original” characters and expect to “live” with them a long time (or at least for the duration of the trilogy). But, in the second book, these original characters take second place, giving the focus to their progeny. Of course, this is understandable. WWII (1939-1945) began 21 years after the end of WWI (1914-1918). Follett had to focus on the new generation which in 1939 is already old enough to go to war. However, I felt that the focus on this new generation at the expense of the original characters was overdone. This is especially true in the case of Maud. We read about her feelings for the young Nazi soldier, her piano student, solely from the viewpoint of Carla, her daughter. We never get inside Maud’s head again. Considering what a strong character she was in the first book, this is a pity.
One thing in which Follett excels in this book is to show the folly of extremism. Nazi Germany and communist Soviet Union were not only enemies, it seems that they were on a race to see who could be crueller. Follett does a very good job of portraying the suffering of the soldiers who went to war as well as of those who were left behind, especially the women, who were exposed to endless calamities including famine and often rape.
I would not want to discourage anyone from reading Winter of the World. The negatives I found pale in comparison with the totality of the work and, in any case, this second book is an integral part of the trilogy.
Speaking of trilogy, Edge of Eternity, book 3, has been released today and it’s already on my Kindle. According to Amazon, it will cover “one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, encompassing civil rights, assassinations, Vietnam, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution—and rock and roll.”
I can’t wait to begin reading it. However, you will have to wait a while to read my opinion. It’s the longest book of the three at 1104 pages. I guess I better start. Now.