So, I read Kon Follett's most famous book Pillars of the Earth a few months ago. I just finished the first book of his new Century Trilogy just an hour ago, and I'm still head-over-heels for it.
So, obviously, I love this book. It's a tome of a story, nearly 1000 pages in length. It follows eight characters from several different families and countries as they move through World War I. The points of view are generally separated by class--you either have aristocrats or working class. At least, that's how it is at the beginning. Characters' positions move throughout the story.
It's hard to sum this up in a concise review because of how massive the book is. However, Follett handles the massive cast deftly, and his prose is mostly strong (though he seems more interested in the poetry of the language than in creating concrete details in some cases). You really learn to feel for each and every one of these characters, and even the ones you don't like, you can still see them as human and real. I personally found myself siding with the working class characters, namely the Welsh ones. Follett himself is Welsh, so perhaps he has a natural sympathy for those characters (they feels like the closest things to true protagonists in a novel with so many view-point characters).
The book isn't without its drawbacks, of course. Because of its size, massive cast, and time-scale (about twelve years), you move through the events of WWI fairly quickly. At least, it feels that way, despite said events taking up a majority of the book. This effect is achieved by the relatively underdeveloped minor characters. For instance, certain romantic relationships and friendships aren't really looked into despite their importance to the characters. This, of course, has to be done, lest the book become unwieldy and even longer. Still, it would be nice to settle in somewhere before leaping ahead a few more months. I also found myself a bit bored with the Russian characters.
However, it's still an excellent book, and a great kick-off to this epic trilogy (it stands on its own, however, as the trilogy is meant to encompass quite a massive amount of time and thus cannot leave any loose ends at the end of the respective books). The next installment is due this fall.
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