After two years the second installment in Ken Follett's "Century trilogy" has finally arrived in bookstores. This new novel, titled Winter of the World, continues the story of five families whose lives are inter-related over the course of many years. The first book, Fall of Giants, dealt primarily with events surrounding World War I. This second book concerns the events surrounding World War II. At close to one thousand pages in length the book is fully executed and totally enjoyable. Only Ken Follett could make so much so interesting for so long.
The book takes five families who are Welsh, Russian, German, English and American and has members of these families intersect with each other at different places around the globe. It is done in such a way that it does not appear forced or fraudulent. Their occupations and their relationships cause these meetings to occur. Behind the meetings is a view of world events transpiring during the course of the years 1933 thru 1949.
Since this book is a sequel to the events that took place in Fall of Giants a familiarity with that book is helpful to have a proper understanding of this one. Even though it has been two years between books it is amazing how fast the reader can recall the important happenings and relationships that impact on this new story.
The most riveting portion of this book is the description of events in Germany during the time of Hitler's reign. It was a horrendous time and Follett does not hold back in his depiction of some of the worst events that took place there. This is also the most heart breaking and suspenseful portion of the book.
The book is full of heroes and heroines. We see brave acts in Hawaii, London, Russia and Germany. Characters that have lived fully on the pages are suddenly killed by one action or another. There are love affairs that are terminated, revelations about relationships, and depictions of personal failings.
This book is truly epic and the reader has the chance to be absorbed completely by the story. Even as lengthy as it is, the reader will probably wish there was a thousand more pages. But that is for the next book which will arrive in another two years.
Was Winter of the World worth the wait? Absolutely. It broadens the story opened up by Fall of Giants and sets the stage for the final installment. Its success must be attributed to the fact that Follett is a master craftsman. He fills his pages with fascinating characters and then uses the great events of this time to make an exciting plot. He succeeds in every way possible.
There is a lot of reading enjoyment to be obtained from this book, plus you will find yourself being educated on world events without even being aware of it. Enjoyment and education, could you ask for anything more? The answer is yes from those who want a continuation of this story -- and in two more years Edge of Eternity, the final book of the trilogy, will arrive.
Winter of the World is published by Dutton. It contains 960 pages and sells for $36.00.
Jackie K Cooper