They had only one thing in common…
William Lowell Kane and Abel Rosnovski, one the son of a Boston millionaire, the other a penniless Polish immigrant – two men both born on the same day on opposite sides of the world, their paths destined to cross in the ruthless struggle to build an empire.
An unputdownable tale, spanning sixty years, of two powerful men kinked by an all consuming hatred, brought together by fate to save… and finally destroy… each other.
Not only does this book have many pages (550) but there is so much storyline crammed onto every page that you feel you are reading several books, not just one. At no point does the storyline let up; it never drags or loses the pace for a moment. I would say a lot of the story is descriptive rather than dialogue, but this suits the style of the book as you are taken through various decades and different parts of the world. The book follows the two main characters from birth through their lives, dedicating alternative chapters to each character. Some chapters are quite long, so you forget what has been happening with the other character when you return to him, but other chapters are so compelling that you don’t want to leave that character’s story line for one chapter.
What I liked about this book: I really enjoyed this book from start to end but I think my favourite part is Abel’s early life. He was born in a Poland controlled by Russia and then during the First World War he was held captive, suffering at the hands of the German army, then the Russian army after the war. It is by far the most interesting part of this compelling story, even though in parts it is the most harrowing. It gave me an insight into life in an occupied country, it was not something I had really come across in such depth before when reading on the subject of Europe during the First World War. I also liked how you really felt time passing through the book. As the book spans 6 decades there is a risk that you will not be able to comprehend this through the characters and the events in the book, but I did feel that is was clearly evident that both the main characters changed as they aged and the events they lived through changed them.
What I didn’t like about this book: At times I felt the book sometimes focused too much on business and how the two characters made their respective empires. It was a big part of the storyline though so it was important it was there in the book, but it slightly detracted at times from the story in my opinion.
This books main success is that even though the two characters come from completely different backgrounds, they are essentially the same at heart and at no point in the book do you feel either of the characters have become a better person than the other. There are times when Kane and Abel each act in an underhand or despicable way, but they also redeem themselves continuously so that you never feel that either one is to blame for the feud between them, more that it was all just a matter of circumstance. I have never read a Jeffrey Archer novel before and perhaps never would have as I always viewed his novels as being more of a man’s book rather than an all-round novel. However after reading Kane and Abel I would not hesitate to read another Jeffrey Archer if it was recommended to me. The story was so compelling I struggled to put it down and it touched on subjects I have not read before in a book. A thoroughly good read.