Edge of Eternity (Ken Follett 2014)

9780230770096Edge of Eternity

We’re finally here, at the end of Follett’s Century Trilogy. Edge of Eternity is the last instalment in the series, and covers the history of the second half of the 20th Century, ranging from the sixties all the way until the end of the eighties, covering almost thirty years in the process. Like Winter of the World before it, Edge of Eternity follows the family lines set up at the end of Fall of Giants. This time it follows the descendants of Winter of the World’s major characters, who now almost all married and with children, with a few exceptions. Most of the characters in Fall of Giants are now elderly, assuming they are still alive. The book focuses a lot on civil rights in America, the split between east and west Germany, and the gradual downfall of communism.

The Follett books have always been a bit political, but none more so than this book. I was aware of this before I started reading, but even so I was surprised at how much of Follett’s political opinions had crept into the book. In the start I didn’t notice it too much, but a lot of the characters seemed to have liberal political views, as opposed the broader spectrum in previous books. The few conservative characters are portrayed as stupid oafs who are clearly not meant to be sympathised with and portrayed as antagonistic even though their actual villainy is sometimes nothing compared to the antagonists of, for example, Winter of the World.C

The most notable example of a character affected by Cameron Dewar, who is portrayed as so inept that it is impossible for him to find love with anyone who isn’t a prostitute. He is also a huge dick to boot, a stark contrast to the Dewars of previous books. I disliked the Dewars of previous books because they were either boring or mishandled, but Cameron is such a wildly different character I couldn’t help but think that he didn’t feel like a member of the Dewar family. Granted his point of view segments were still boring, but he was such a stark contrast to the others that I actually hated him more than the others.
I couldn’t help but think that some characters would go underused for lengthy segments of the novel, including people who I considered to be major characters. People such as Rebecca Hoffman seemed to disappear for lengthy sections not doing a whole lot despite getting a reasonable amount of attention at the beginning. It felt almost as if Follett set up these character for a major storyline but eventually grew bored of them and moved onto other characters that he had introduced.

Most of the plotlines which got focus were interesting however. The most interesting included the story arcs of George Jakes and Walli Franck. The former is a black man who starts the story in the sixties involved in the civil rights movement. Unusually he is a lawyer who eventually becomes connected with Robert Kennedy, allowing him to meet people such as John F. Kennedy in the process. As the civil rights era is a period of history which I have interest in, it was interesting to see that period of history unfold. Walli Franck’s story is interesting since his story starts of action packed from the get go after he escapes from East Germany. However his girlfriend stays behind, and he eventually learns that she was pregnant and that he has daughter which he will likely never see. He then becomes a rock star and gets addicted to drugs. This was an interesting plot line since it showed the effects drugs can have on a person and provided an honest insight into the growing entertainment industry at that time.

There were a few strange decisions made, ones which made me question the works historical accuracy. The most notable of these is the character Maria. Maria is an original character whom, in the sixties, has an affair with John. F. Kennedy. This rubbed me the wrong way since, while JFK was supposed to be an adulterer according to many sources, the fact that they would make him have an affair with a fictional character suggests that Follett was willing to ignore actual history when writing the book. This makes me question the historical accuracy of the book as a whole, since to be the decision suggests that Follett might have been willing to ignore facts in other aspects of the book as well.

As a whole the book has its fair share of flaws when compared to its predecessors. The characters are still the same boring archetypes seen in other novels, but I picked up more on the other aspects. The fact that it might not be historically accurate bugs me, not just with Maria’s affair with JFK but also with regards the story’s liberal bias in general. I am not a political person either way, and I believe that any political slant can ruin any attempt at factually representing history. As a result I feel as though the work’s political bias works against it. A decent conclusion but I feel as though it is not the strongest entry and the series, falling just short of Winds of Winter on that front. It is good, but there is certainly a lot of room for improvement.

SCORE: 3.5/5

IN A WORD: POLITICAL

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