I am a fan of Ken Follett and I’ve enjoyed reading several of his novels, including FALL OF THE GIANTS. So I was looking forward to reading WINTER OF THE WORLD, but it didn’t seem up to his usual standard.
What struck me first was how Mr. Follett’s prose is riddled with tells. Now, I have written a lot about this subject before, and readers of my previous posts know that I’m not against tells providing that they don’t annoy the reader. There are two things to remember about them if you want to use them. First, it helps if they have a voice, a personality or a particular point of view. Neutral reportage doesn’t do in a novel. Secondly, if you can’t do that, you MUST use them SPARINGLY.
Unfortunately, Mr. Follett’s tells were of the neutral reportage variety, so the effect was to dampen down the emotion of the story, which makes the reader LESS emotionally engaged. Not what you want if you are a writer.
But the problem with the tells masked an even deeper problem with this novel, which was the lack of characterization of the main characters. As others have remarked, the vivid personalities from the last novel take a back seat as their children take center stage. What a pity, therefore, that the children are so not interesting! Let us hope that their children, who will feature in the next novel, are as interesting as their grandparents were. Three stars.