Edge of Eternity (Century Trilogy #3), by Ken Follett

Five stars (of five)

What a sensational series to begin 2015 reading!!!

Follett ties up the Century Trilogy with the best novel yet, Edge of Eternity. Tackling the largest historical arc, Follett brings his characters to life at a time when the world saw epic change, continuing storylines from past novels and adding new layers with another generation of characters to push the trilogy ahead. Follett continues to follow five intertwined families through the major social, political, and economic turmoil of the 1960s through the 1980s. Follett addresses the rise of civil rights, assassinations of key political figures, development of political movements and Vietnam, which touched America and shaped the world. International historical events such as the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, numerous communist revolutions, and rock and roll. Readers of the first two Trilogy novels will bask in this most powerful novel, leaving not a page free of major character development and dramatic build-up. Follett remains a master of his craft and many others could learn from his ease of presentation.

Follett skips ahead a dozen years in this last novel. With the country firmly divided, East German teacher Rebecca Hoffman learns the Stasi has been invading her life for years, choosing to alter her own history in hopes of betterment. George Jakes, a young man of mixed-race joins Bobby Kennedy’s Justice Department, where the civil rights movement develops around him as American history is also shaped in the evolving 1960s. Cameron Dewar ignores his familial political history and joins Nixon’s team to shape a country tired of Vietnam’s casualties. Dimka Dvorkin, working for Nikita Khrushchev, witnesses the height of Cold War tensions as nuclear war becomes an almost-certain reality. Dvorkin’s twin sister, Tania, leaves the comforts of Moscow to shape communist sentiment in Cuba and behind the Iron Curtain, where the Soviet nucleus wanes and political discord waxes. These are but a drop in the bucket of the characters, storylines, and dramatic narratives that pull the novel and the saga together once and for all.

Over a twenty-eight year historical arc, from 1961 through to 1989, Follett presents his brilliantly researched novel, picking key events and weaving backstories for a plethora of characters, whose lives are more than vessels for the political and social upheaval seen throughout. Even the most attentive reader may struggle with how the characters tie together, crossing national backgrounds and creating relationships that are best plotted on a genealogy tree. The novel is about more than living through history, but also using history as an ever-shaping backdrop. However, Follett pushes the argument (in all three novels) that history shapes not only borders and elections, but also those who create it, from commoner to political giant alike.

For those, like me, who invested the time in the audio version of the novel, a word about John Lee is surely in order. Lee, a master story teller with his nuanced accents and narrative abilities, brings the story to life with his ever-changing voices and calm style. He takes on so many characters, but is sure to give each their own voice and personality. He is a Follett favourite when it comes to audiobook renditions, and Lee has done a wonderful job in colouring the narrative from the opening pages in a Welsh coal mine through to the election of a black president of the United States of America.

Kudos, Mr. Follett for this literary gem. I have and will continue to recommend the series to friends and fellow readers alike.