Ken Follett’s “Edge of Eternity” is the third book in his Century Trilogy. The book is an epic in size and scope, tackling the 20th century’s huge historical events with the lives of fictional characters interwoven throughout. Fans of Follett’s work will undoubtedly enjoy this historical novel, though it is perhaps the weakest of the three books in the trilogy.
For those old enough to remember the events of the mid to late 20th century, may find issue with the way certain events are portrayed. This is historical fiction, and not a history of the time. Family and the characters are the center of this book as they were in the first two. The complicated lives of the people living through extraordinary times is what keeps readers turning pages. The historical details add interest, but again, this is not a history, it is a novel. For those interested in the time period and its history specifically, there are plenty of nonfiction works available to study.
“Edge of Eternity” offers a multifaceted view of the 1960s through events across the globe. It may be difficult for those who did not live through the Cold War era to comprehend how imminent the threat of nuclear annihilation felt for everyone. Think of young schoolchildren taking part in shelter drills, hiding under desks against nuclear attack. Those moments during the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world came as close as it ever did to a nuclear war are hard to deal with, but Follett’s characters give the reader a way in, a window into the era, a way of understanding what sort of system and people could bring the world to the brink of destruction and then step back.
The sections dealing with the Civil Rights movement provide insight into the lives of the courageous and flawed people who fought in the struggle against racism and hatred. The author deals with difficult subject matter honestly and the violence against nonviolent protesters is still shocking to read about even in a fictional account. The book has its lighter moments, too, and the family drama at the heart of the story is perhaps the most compelling reason to read the book.
“Edge of Eternity” by Ken Follett is available online, at your favorite bookstore and your local library.