Clocking in at 1,098 pages, Ken Follet’s ambitious Century Trilogy comes to a conclusion. The first two books covered the early years of the 1900’s and ended in 1948. Along the way Follet threw in major political and social upheavals: the suffrage movement in Britain, the threat of revolution (the Russian revolution), the rise of Fascism and Nazism, class struggles reminiscent of Downton Abbey and other classical soap operas plus a lot of sex and scandal in between. The first two books were page turners and for a history buff, it was a great way to learn history quick and easy.
But the magic of the Century Trilogy isn’t in the experience of all of these struggles it is in the lives of its characters, being a generational story, by the third book many of the characters in Edge of Eternity are the descendants of the characters in the first book. At this point, it would take a rereading and a little bit of a jog along literary memory lane to remember the who’s who of Follet’s historical world. By this point, World War II has already ended and the characters now face newer and more contemporary threats: the rise of communism in Asia and Europe, the American Civil Rights movement, the Berlin Wall and the rise of Rock and Roll. All of these are interspersed with major flash points wherein Follet’s characters happen to stand beside Khrushchev, Kennedy, MLK and all of the big wigs of contemporary world history. As is typical in Follet’s world, sex is thrown in liberally, oftentimes driving the story forward with newer conflicts.
Covering over 40 years in a span of 1,098 pages is certainly not an easy feat, for those familiar with world history, some areas were undoubtedly left out. Some of which were vital in understanding or shaping certain decades. I personally felt that the last book was the weakest of all of the three books, the first book setup a large world for Follet to explore, the second killed of major characters that I had already made connections with, while the last book was anti-climactic. Edge of Eternity was certainly ambitious but it failed to give me the thrill factor and characters whom I would have to genuinely hate, the “villains” so to speak were sidelined, something uncharacteristic of the author to do. Despite it being weak, it was certainly nice to read the conclusion of this long trilogy.
Edge of Eternity can be found in all major bookstores in the country.