Mr. Follet may not be the most talented popular writer out there, but he surely makes up for it with intricate and engaging narratives which make bold and assertive statements about political and social issues. For as long as he is been doing it, he has mastered its craft. However, one thing he hasn’t become proficient at: cutting down the manuscript’s length.
The novel, although extremely complete – it covers and solemnly focuses on thirty years of cold-war – lacks character. Not characters: they are plentiful and diverse, however the personality and chemistry between them just isn’t there. As in every historical novel, fictional characters experience and participate in real-world happenings. It obviously doesn’t contribute to the believability of the plot, but it surely is an effective device to tell the desired story, and Follet executes it with class. They are, for the most part, descendants of the characters that made part of the previous two books, and they pretty much resemble them in their actions.
To me, the main problem is the novel’s length; some scenes should, and could have been cut out. It’s not that they’re uninteresting or not compelling, most of them are. However, the sheer abundance of interactions and dramas between the characters play a good part in boring the reader out, and cause mental exhaustion. Of course, not every reader will manifest it, but for the most part, they will lose the engagement they once had when they started the book.
In conclusion, Ken Follet brings goodwill and ambition with him to the word-processor. He has done his research, he has prepared his outline well, but in the end, he doesn’t seem to understand where he could have improved. He ends the trilogy with a bang, but it could have ended with a nuclear explosion. Well, the cold-war didn’t, so I guess it’s all right.