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547 of 595 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plot and characters like a kalidiascope..., September 18, 2012
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This review is from: Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy (Hardcover)
I'd like to begin by saying why I was able to read and write a review of a 925 page book on the day of its release. I preordered this book a couple of months ago, when the release date was Sep 11th. I was sent the book, received it on Sep 12th and spent a few days reading it. When I went to Amazon to post my review, I found the release date had been moved back to Sep 18th and that I couldn't post my review. So, here it is now! I'm rather curious how many other readers also received their book a week early?

Anyway, my review...
Ken Follett's new novel, "Winter of the World", is the second in the planned three volume set about the history of the 20th century. Beginning in 1933, Follett brings his huge cast of characters along from the years up to the end of the Great War. To talk about the plot of the new book is impossible. Way too many characters and too many plot points. BUT, Follett's such a good writer that he brings the reader up to date with ALL his characters. Follett gives most of his characters enough nuance that few seem like caricatures.

The interesting thing about Follett's second book is the breadth of the coverage of the 1930's and 40's (and into the `50's). Everything from the burning of the Reichstag to the T4 Euthanesia program under the Nazis, to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the battle of Midway to the development of the atomic bomb is covered. Now, in a regular novel, the reader would think, "oh yeah, how can one character or family of characters be present at all these historic events?" But Follett has developed so many characters that what happens is not unlikely. His characters seem to merge with each other and then separate much like the designs in a kaleidoscope. The American heiress from the Russian-emigree father goes to England in the mid-1930's and marries the son(s) of members the British/Welsh nobility. The German characters interact with both the British and the Russians. All these families had been introduced in Follett's first book and all interacted in Follett's second.

Something else interesting I noticed from Follett's first book and his second is the fact that none of the major characters in the first book died. They had to survive to make the second book possible. Now in the second book, several of the main characters do die, which, given the war setting, is a bit more believable. However, many children are also born by book's end and these children will star in the third book in the Follett trilogy.

Also, and this is important. Follett doesn't do a lot of reintroducing characters, their relationships, and plot points from the first book to the second. I guess he just assumes most readers have read the first book and so know the characters of the second. As a result, there's little awkwardness to his writing and the second book flows pretty naturally.

A question a new reader might ask is if he should read the first book,"Fall of the Giants" before "Winter of the World"? This second book could be a stand-alone novel. Follett sets an ambitious course with his proposed three volume set. So far, with the first and second books, he's done quite well.

I don't normally write such short reviews but there's no way to talk about the plot except to say Follett is a master. And if you don't like the book, you can always use it as a door stop. It is a large volume, containing a great story. Enjoy.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 49 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 18, 2012 12:32:15 PM PDT
Thanks for discussing the book instead of the price. :)

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2012 1:35:20 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Thanks, Vernon! As a long-time reviewer, it does upset me that people use the star system to complain about the price of the e-books. Anyway, I hope you like the book.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012 3:27:09 PM PDT
Thanks for your thoughtful review. Do you have to read Fall of the Giants to get the most out of this book.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2012 3:40:29 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Thanks for the note, Mary. I suppose if you have a whole lot of time, you should read the first book first, but the second does stand on it's own. It's a hard call. If you're not interested in early 20th century history, then you can start on #2.

Posted on Sep 20, 2012 11:18:26 AM PDT
Such a brilliant review, Jill! Apparently I am not the only one who thinks so, judging by all the yes clicks you've garnered in such a short time! Brava, Jill. My mum adored his first book of this trilogy. I'll have to make sure she gets a copy of the second one. Based on what you say in your review about it, I'm sure she will not be using it as a door stop! Evie

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2012 12:24:10 PM PDT
Awesome review, Jill. I still have the first one here to read. Since you said Follett doesn't reintroduce people I think I will read them back to back with a big bottle of wine. Thanks for an outstanding review and for the heads-up. Love Follett!

Pam

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2012 5:08:04 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Thanks, Evie.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2012 5:08:31 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Thanks, Pam. Take about a week to read both.

Posted on Sep 20, 2012 5:57:06 PM PDT
Rebkah Oren says:
Gee Thanks a lot for telling us that "several of the main characters do die"!!!! Next time please put spoiler alert.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2012 6:00:12 PM PDT
Jill Meyer says:
Thanks for the note, Rebkah. I normally would put a "spoiler alert" on - or not write it to begin with - but there are so many characters that I don't think I gave any names. What I was trying to say was that compared to the first book where NO major character died, there was a sense in this second book that lives move on.
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Jill Meyer
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