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I read Ken Follett's two mediaeval England books and they were riveting. Tremendous stories that kept me transfixed throughout. Next I read his World War I book and I have just finished listening to 'Winter of the World', the second book of this 20th century trilogy - the story of World War II.
Like the above-mentioned three books, this was a good entertaining story and very enjoyable. The only trouble is that Follett has to manufacture the plot so that every major character from his two basic families (Russian and Welsh) appears at key moments in the war and intervenes to change the whole course of the conflict: inventing the atom bomb, stopping Hitler from systematically killing disabled people, forming the united nations, passing the Nazi invasion plans to the Russians etc, etc.
Unfortunately, this stretches the credulity of the listener and it is always in the back of your mind that two families couldn't have had such an impact. This wasn't a problem with the mediaeval novels, because they were based in a small country with a small population , so it wasn't as far-fetched that the key characters could have such an influence on major historical events.
As for the narrator, he was generally pretty good, but he struggled a bit with some of the accents. At one point I wasn't sure if his Welshman was a Geordie or an Indian!
These were the only blemishes on what was otherwise a great listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Where does Winter of the World rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
The first novel in the series, "Fall of Giants" was a bit better, in my opinion, and compared to Herman Wouk's epic novel "The Winds of War", Ken Follett's book could have gone a lot deeper.Having just listened to Herman Wouk's World War II novels (very similar approach with fictional characters and real contemporaries mixed), Ken Follett's book just falls short.
Nevertheless, it's a very good effort to bring the horrors of war closer to today's audience.
What other book might you compare Winter of the World to and why?
See above - "The Winds of War" by Herman Wouk.
What about John Lee’s performance did you like?
Solid, reliable performance.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I'm a Ken Follett historical history fan from way back. There has never been anything other than a well-researched, brilliant novel. John Lee narrates the books like they were written for him. But Winter of the World has proved even Ken Follett can outdo himself! This should be required reading for history classes in England and the U.S. I have never been a real fan of the history of WWII but this was the easiest and most captivating history lesson I have ever had. Couldnt stop listening. You just cannot go wrong with this book it's a real winner.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Right, I have just finished listening to this epic story and I have to say I have not had an audio book like it. Having listened to the previous book in the series (Fall Of Giants) I thought that it would be impossible to top, well this one is even better. Great character development, well narrated and gripping. The story lines are interesting and in some parts deeply shocking with some, not graphic but disturbing descriptions of human behaviour. I noticed that this was a good book when I woke up in the middle of the night and started listening to the audio book hoping to drift off to sleep, then 4 hours later still awake I had to get up and go to work! The sooner the next book in the series is released the better. I would recommend this book to everyone!
22 of 24 people found this review helpful
Upon finishing "Fall of Giants" and checking out other books by Ken Follett I was thrilled to discover that there was a sequel! I downloaded it instantly and listened in every available moment until I finished.
Building on the background of Fall of Giants, Winter of the World picks up a fair few years after Fall of Giants finishes, and focuses on the children of the characters from Fall of Giants. I found this a refreshing way to go about writing a sequel; it had the perfect combination of familiarity and novelty.
While I recommend listening to/reading Fall of Giants first, that is by no means essential, with the two books complementing each other rather than requiring each other.
There are some scenes in this book that I think will stick in my brain forever. I enjoyed it just as much as the first and cannot wait for the third book to be published.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Once I got used to the clipped narration I really enjoyed this book. The accents were mostly consistent especially the Welsh! The story captures how the separate but interwoven lives of the key characters are changed by WWI. The characters are likeable and I kept listening to hear how each dealt with the major political and social changes of the first three decades of last century. If you like historical fiction and believable characters this is a good series to get into!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful