Monday, February 6, 2017



'FALL OF THE GIANTS'  by the Welch author Ken Follet is a historical novel which depicts role of the aristocrats and the working class of the early 20th century (1911 to be exact) both vertically and horizontally.

Vertically because the story involves the coal mining community in Aberowen a Welch town , the coal mine and and the aristocrats of the last century. Horizontally it moves along generations and world war 1.

My own trip to the largest coal mine in the world showed that the Indian mine is 1000 metres deep where the actual miners work. I knew what ‘pitch black darkness’ meant and the importance of lights in the pits.

Follet starts his novel with graphic account of how the make-shift lift takes a young miner, a boy at that, down to the depths, ragged by his seniors who give him a lamp which goes out and leaves him in pitch black darkness!

Simultaneous narration of the owners of the mining town - the exotic Fitzherbert and his Russian wife Bee. Story weaves around the love and hate between lower and upper classes.

Explosion and fire in the mine – with death of many. The puny response of the mining owner to the fire!

True love blossoms not only between the aristocrats and the poor ; adultery,betrayal and denial also co exist among them.

The story goes on to world war 1, the trenches, treachery of the army officials, the stupidity of  the top government bureaucracy in going to war.  The officials despite the death of thousands of young men of the lower social order still proclaimed the (needless) war as a success!

This reminded me of how even after a 100 years, governments still manage to pull wool over our eyes saying how a change is done for our good , when only us, the commoners are made to suffer, leaving the rich to benefit immensely from the exercise !!

The social rights and woman empowerment with voting rights for women are focused in great detail.

The need for the common folks to stand up for what is right and fair - reminded me of 'jallikattu' movement in Tamilnadu!

In the end, the children of the miners who grow up to be bold, decisive young men and women lead a better life and become popular compared to the rich folks who are exposed for their greedy, selfish attitude. 

So there is a morality in the book after all and a source for joy in life.

When my son had bought the large book, I wondering how I’d be able to read it – but this novel depicts life in general and in war, giving hope for us all. 

Thank  you, Pravin for lending it to me!

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