“A brilliantly funny, scary, sweeping novel with all the energy of Welsh’s debut.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
I just can’t get enough of Ken Follett ever since I read his century trilogy and here’s the latest one which I finished in just over a day. This one is a combination of romance, drama, politics, thrills – everything transpiring in the days just prior to World War 1. In the very first chapter itself, he introduces Winston Churchill into the plot, which is typical Follett. Not sure if it’s fascination or aversion but the detail in which he describes the lifestyle of the British nobility is fascinating – right from the elaborate breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner menus to the presenting of young girls in the Buckingham Palace as debutantes. The suffragettes also get detailed coverage in this one just as they did in ‘Fall of Giants’.
However, the social political themes only appear as part of the story and not as a sermon ; the Novel aptly is about the man from St Petersburg – Feliks Kschessinsky. His actions are a personification of the phrase – “One man’s hero is another man’s villain”. He’s on a desperate mission to kill someone and the killing could potentially stop Russia’s alliance with England in a European war which can happen anytime . This man knows no fear, is extremely resourceful and is fairly confident that he can finish off the Russian Prince with consummate ease. But his world is turned upside down when he has to confront ghosts from his long forgotten past as the love of his life appears in front of him, just when he’s about to pull the trigger. The story moves very swiftly from then on building up to an exciting climax.
The ending, was partially predictable because Ken Follett never distorts historical facts, so you do know that the world war will happen and who’ll be fighting on whose side. I was thinking whether he could have provided a better ending but couldn’t come up with anything else, so I’m happy with what he’s done.
Verdict – well worth a read, though definitely not amongst his best works. I’ll call this his Masala offering which will surely keep you engaged.
Added 6th August 2017