I just finished Ken Follett’s The Edge of Eternity, the final installment in the author’s sweeping “Century Trilogy“. Having spent the past several weeks furtively seeking out spare minutes to read pages whenever possible, I’m here to say that without a doubt you should read these books … ASAP.
Follett has his share of detractors. Before picking up the trilogy, I read various reviews of Follett’s writing, but they all say about the same thing – he is a master storyteller with an eye for history, but some of his characters and plot points fall short of believable.
Welcome to fiction.
What the Century Trilogy does better than any story I’ve ever read is weave together the global fabric of the 20th Century. By unpacking the century through the experience of five families – one British, one Russian, one German and two American – Follett does something truly grand. He humanizes world events in a way that makes them both profoundly grand and strikingly personal.
Reading the books, you come to care so much about the characters that you find yourself embarrassingly invested in the story’s events, though you often know beforehand what happens. To accomplish this feat, the characters are necessarily well-placed, but they’re almost all believable and approachable. Yes, certain aspects are less than believable, and if you think too hard about it, you may wonder how these same families keep intersecting throughout the decades and how each manages to stay close to the seat of power in their respective countries. But the storytelling is done so well that it doesn’t matter. As a result, I came out with a better understanding of the 20th Century’s events and themes. In fact, with its dash of action and double dash of sex, the Century Trilogy could possibly make for a productive replacement for high school history texts.
What I’m trying to say is that if you’re a history buff seeking out a new page-turner of a book series, you could do worse than picking up Fall of Giants, Winter of the World or Edge of Eternity, the titles that make up the trilogy. Let me know how it goes.