Ken Follett is a genius. He has an amazing gift for creating riveting, all-encompassing stories that sweep human history. And he’s done it again with Winter of the World, the second book in the Century Trilogy.
Have you read Fall of Giants? Pillars of the Earth? World Without End? Those are his big ones as far as I’m concerned but I know he’s been a pretty prolific World War II spy series writer as well. The only one of those that I’ve read was The Key To Rebecca which was a really fun read.
But I’m totally getting distracted.
I was first introduced to Ken Follett through Pillars of the Earth. It was one that I could not put down and I found myself literally breathless reading it. When Fall of Giants was published I was so excited. Stories taking place in Medieval times are not generally something I’m drawn to but early 20th Century is right up my alley. Fall of Giants was spectacular but then it ended and I’ve waited 2 years for its sequel.
Winter of the World does not disappoint. Follett’s knowledge of World War II history is pretty astonishing and his previous experience writing spy novels really comes through for him in this novel. Seemed like every other character was a spy in this one. But in a good way. I don’t know about you but I’ve read a lot of World War II stuff and somehow Winter of the World made it seem like I never had. The whole era was made new again – does that make sense? Somehow Follett was able to make me really feel what it must have been like to live through that era. It was a really emotional read.
The book starts out in Germany in 1933 right around the time when Hitler seizes power and begins to really exercise his will on the people. The story takes us through the Spanish Civil War, Pearl Harbour, the Battle of Midway, the landings on the beach at Normandy and finally the uneasy peace following the war. When the book finishes, it’s 1948 and everyone is still waiting for some kind of resolution to be found.
Follett’s characters are always relatable and wonderful, or completely evil. I found that this time around he was more focused on making everyone have different sides to them. There were only a couple of truly evil people in this one, everyone else was trying to make the world a better place with the tools available to them. Follett definitely knows how to write a strong female character. Winter of the World is full of them. Fall of Giants had its share as well but the tradition gains traction in the sequel. Maud, Eth, Rosa, Carla, Frieda, Zoya, even Daisy in the end, are all incredibly strong female characters, stepping in when the men in their lives are unable to.
Sometimes I wish that I would just discover these series when they had already been completed. That way I wouldn’t have to wait and I’d save quite a few dollars getting them all in paperback! But now I’m doomed to wait another 2 years for the conclusion. The saving grace here is that it is sure to be worth the wait.