Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Tale of Unsung Heroes

Winter of the World
By Ken Follet

Continuing with the Century Trilogy, the second book picks off from where the last one, Fall of Giants, left us: the amazing story of families across continents, united by a common link and hoping that the world never again sees such a great war. This is quite a wonderful way to look at a work of historical fiction as it allows the writer to move between the staid talk of war to the everyday trials and tribulations of that age (many of which continue even today).

Like all works of historical fiction though, indeed all of historical literature, it comes with an opinion. So, the wrongs of the Nazis are meted out to our protagonists, but what prompted the Nazis and their supporters to go down that path takes a mere footnote in the narrative. One does not, of course, expect objectivity from fiction, but then this is a defect nonetheless.

Unlike the first book though, this one is quite slow and some characters like Ethel Leckwith were left simply where they were in the beginning, with a figurative halo around their heads. This makes their very presence rather redundant, a mere necessity to ensure continuity. But in fact, these stories need not have been contiguous at all! That does take away from the delight of the whole trilogy, but it is a good book on its own. 

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