Edge of Eternity( Book Three of the Century Trilogy)[EDGE OF ETERNITY 29D][UNABRIDGED][Compact Disc] CD-ROM – September 30, 2014
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The reason I gave this 3 stars instead of 1 or 2 is the historical fiction aspect. This is where Follet shines. He does a good job of explaining the detail and background of events that, though I lived through them, I was young enough that I didn't know these details. But even here, while duly recording history, Follet's political bias' colour the narrative - whose politics he agrees with and his interpretation of events definitely sway the pure facts of the narrative. He is especially harsh and critical of the Kennedy brothers in contrast to the view of most contemporary historians.
But the worst part of this book, the hardest bit to suffer through in order to get to the good bits, were the purely fictional characters. This is meant to be a sweeping generational novel where the real hook for the reader should be that we care about these families as they live through these times. But in 1145 pages, Follet cannot do better than to give us cardboard cutouts with no soul and some of the most trite, insipid dialogue I have ever had the displeasure to read. We should be crying and laughing and sharing these monumental events with these characters (because, of course, Forrest Gump-like, they all just happen to be right in the middle of everything through all the decades). But instead they are just passive observers and we don't care at all about them.
Even worse, Follet treats the reader like a dunce who can't remember from chapter to chapter people and events, constantly repeating what this person did, or who they are. And repeating the background of people, events and places multiple times. This book could have been cut by at least a third in length if these repetitions were eliminated. There is a cast of characters at the front but I never once had to check it, as I often do in other similar books, because I keep getting told even what I remember every time a character shows up again. The other device I found really irritating is Follet's practice of telling us about a historical event followed by a comment like ". . . George thought" or someone else thought. Not a true experience of the event by George, just something like George is watching this event unfold on TV (say the Berlin Wall coming down) and something about the wall, and then "George thought this was great" or something equally trite.
Writing this review, I now want to change my rating back to 2 stars as I remember how irritating the fictional characters were. But I did get swept up in the story and the historical parts were interesting and well written. I am surprised by all the 4 and 5 star reviews of this book, maybe other people did better at ignoring the weakness of the main characters. I have read all of Follet's historical fiction novels and, while some were better than others, this one is by far his worst.
The apparently pathetically ignorant author mocks the infamous “Mr Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL.” To which I say to any potential purchaser of this book, TEAR UP YOUR ORDER. Shameful.
Top reviews from other countries
I also felt that the novel was far too male-dominated: sex and relationships were usually described from the male POV, which I found difficult to relate to; the only thing most of the men seemed to have on their minds was sex and power/ambition; and most came across as very arrogant and sexist even when they were supposed to be the ‘good guys’. There were very few strong female characters, unlike in the other books; Rebecca was the only woman who was likeable.
The first two books were justifiably long, but this one felt like it was long just for the sake of being long. I’ve been a fan of Ken Follett’s writing for years and The Pillars of the Earth is one of my all time favourite novels, but sadly this book seemed rushed and it felt like he had got bored with the series. Hopefully his next book will be more exciting.
Follett is Follett. He's a great writer, and he manages to keep the pages turning nicely. However, this is a step backwards. For me, the problema is the sweep of time this trilogy encompasses. The classic Follett is arguably the Pillars of the Earth. however, in Pillars, the whole book is anchored to two historical events, the sinking of the White Ship at Barfleur at the start, and the murder of Thomas Beckett at the end. From there, history is a simple backdrop on which the characters are drawn. This time however, the book at times becomes a dashing overview of twentieth century history, loosely tied together by the (too many) characters who make up the story. For me, and I speak as a mere reader, not a critic, the characters should drive the story, but here they are dragged along behind it. Reading other reviews, it seems others also are'nt sure if this was a novel or a history book, and the problem is it falls between the two.I can imagine Reading these books again as Follett has the gift to make you turn pages, but, but, but......a great book, for me, should be like dreaming awake. You pick it up and forget where you are, and are carried away by the story. Sadly, this is too bitty, and I kèpt being woken up.
as Dan Brown. But who cares. I don't go and see the latest Hollywood Blockbuster expecting to have a profound cultural experience. It's entertainment. Don't knock it for that.
I found it a bit odd having real-life characters who are still alive interacting with the fictional characters. I wonder if Gorbachev's read it? That jarred a bit for me in a way that it didn't with real-life dead characters in this and earlier books. But more importantly, the characters in this book were just not as good as the ones in the previous books. They all had spectacularly successful (and unlikely at such a young age) careers - but the fact that there are lots of famous historical events with real characters and yet the fictionally world famous rock band that's a major feature of the book, along with other supposedly world famous fictional characters, doesn't sit well with the real characters. For the idea of mixing fictional with real characters to work, the real characters have to be people you would never have heard of (which is why the first two books work) but it's quite hard to suspend disbelief when there are characters who had they been real you would have definitely heard of, mixing with characters who were actually real. Also the sheer unlikelihood of the characters from the various families interacting with each other so randomly so often by this book really begin to grate on my suspension of disbelief.
So yes, you do have to read it if you've read the other two books, but don't expect to enjoy it as much.
But what a family! One's a British MP another a US senator; one a major film star another a rock star. Back in the USSR their distant cousin is a close aide to the President while in the USA another member of the family has a similar job in the White House.
Meanwhile, every now and again we are introduced to some of the big issues facing society, but it's okay, various characters are on hand to explain, as if to a child, why it's really okay to be gay, but not okay to be racist, and Communism was a good idea that can never really work.
Wooden, facile, condescending. It's writing by numbers.