''The Century Trilogy'' is, [[CaptainObvious as the name indicates]], a trilogy of novels by Creator/KenFollett which tell the history of the 20th century through the eyes of five interrelated families--American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh. The trilogy consists of the following novels:

* ''Fall of Giants'' (2010): Covers 1911 to 1923, but most of the novel is set during WorldWarOne.
* ''Winter of the World'' (2012): Covering 1933 to 1949, focusing on the rise of the Nazis and WorldWarII
* ''Edge of Eternity'' (2014): Covering 1961 to 2008, focusing on the UsefulNotes/ColdWar and the American UsefulNotes/CivilRightsMovement.

The five families are:

* The Dewar family--aristocrats with high connections in the American government.
* The Fitzherbert family--ditto, except they're British.
* The von Ulrich family--ditto, except they're German.
* The Peshkov family--two Russian peasants, one who emigrates to America and one who stays behind and gets involved in the Russian Revolution.
* The Williams family--Welsh coal miners, who eventually get into Labor Party politics.

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!!The series as a whole provides examples of:
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Happens from time to time.
* AuthorTract:
** ''Fall of Giants''--It sure does seem like Ken Follett is a Labor Party voter.
** ''Edge of Eternity''--Similarly, Follett makes it very clear that he thinks that the Social Democrats were the heroes of the twentieth century.
* BeenThereShapedHistory: The characters often have small but pivotal roles concerning the outcome of crucial historical events.
* BlackGalOnWhiteGuyDrama:
** In Book 2, Jacky Jakes and Greg Peshkov have an illicit affair.
** In Book 3, Maria Summers has to keep her affair with a white man a secret, though their ethnicities are by far not the only problem. He is also married. Oh, and by the way, he is also [[spoiler:the [[UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy President of the United States]]]].
* BlackSheep:
** In ''Winter of the World'', Erik von Ulrich is the only Nazi in a family of Social Democrats.
** In ''Edge of Eternity'', Cam Dewar is a Republican, while the rest of his family is rather leftist.
* ContrivedCoincidence / OneDegreeOfSeparation:
** In the first book:
*** Was it pushing things too far for Earl Fitzherbert and Walter von Ulrich to meet each other in no-man's-land on the day of the 1914 Christmas Truce?
*** Or for Gus Dewar and von Ulrich to be on opposite sides of the battle for Chateau-Thierry?
** In the second book:
*** The same maid serves Daisy Peshkov and is sweet on Lloyd Williams.
*** A Jewish girl who knows the von Ulrich family in Berlin emigrates to America and becomes Daisy Peshkov's friend.
*** The obnoxious NKVD agent who irritates Volodya Peshkov also turns out to be courting his sister.
*** [[spoiler: The Dewar]] family goes to Pearl Harbor in time for the Japanese attack.
*** And the biggest of all has to be [[spoiler:Boy getting shot down right in front of Lloyd.]]
** In the third book:
*** Tanya Dvorkin travels to the Leipzig Book Fair in order to find a publisher who can print her friend's book in the West. That publisher happens to be represented by Anna Murray, the daughter of the Jewish girl mentioned above.
*** When Rebecca travels to Washington as part of the West German government's delegation, George Jakes's LoveInterest Maria happens to be part of the American negotiating party. Furthermore, Rebecca's Hungarian boyfriend also meets Dimka at one point.
*** Dave Williams' guest in his TV show's first episode is the father of his cousin George's (other) LoveInterest Verena.
*** Everyone and their mother seems to have a television set by ''Franck'', the company owned by Rebecca's and Walli's father.
* EverybodyHasLotsOfSex: A Ken Follett trademark.
* HistoricalDomainCharacter: Many. The POV characters wind up interacting with most of the Great Men of their era.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters
* MalignedMixedMarriage:
** In the second book, white guy Greg Peshkov falls in love with black girl Jacky Jakes, and knocks her up, but doesn't marry her due to society's dim view of interracial marriage in TheForties.
** In the third book, Verena's parents, wherein [[WhereDaWhiteWomenAt the father is black and the mother is white]]. Due to them being celebrities, everyone tries to be polite around them, but the discrimination is nevertheless noticeable.
* TheMistress: Lev Peshkov has several over the course of two books.
** Boy Fitzherbert has two in ''Winter''--a [[ThreeWaySex mother-daughter pair]], no less.
** In the third book Maria is a mistress of John F. Kennedy (one of several).
* SequelHook: ''Fall of Giants'' ends with some bitter Germans taking interest in a rabble-rousing politician named UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler.
** ''Winter of the World'' ends with the UsefulNotes/ColdWar well underway (the Soviets detonate a nuclear bomb, and the Berlin Airlift marks the end of any trace of cooperation between the Soviets and the West).
* ShoutOut: In ''Giants'' Fitz sees a church from the year 1000 and wonders [[ThePillarsOfTheEarth why people are interested]] in [[WorldWithoutEnd old churches]].
** This may also be a subtle bit of characterization from cathedral enthusiast Ken Follett, since Earl Fitzherbert is the closest thing to an antagonist that the first book has.
** In ''Winter'', Joanne says her hangover feels like [[WorldWithoutEnd the Black Death]].
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''ThePillarsOfTheEarth'' and ''WorldWithoutEnd''. After writing thrillers and spy novels for most of his career, Follett told the story of 12th and 14th century England (respectively) through those two novels about the residents of a fictional English town called Kingsbridge. The Century Trilogy is recounting the events of the 20th century through a similar narrative style.
* SwitchingPOV:
** ''Giants'' has eight POV characters--Gus Dewar, Earl Edward Fitzherbert and his sister Maud, Walter von Ulrich, brothers Grigori and Lev Peshkov, and Billy Williams and his sister Ethel.
** ''Winter'' has a new set of of POV characters--the children of the first set. This time it's Woody and Chuck Dewar, Daisy and Greg Peshkov (Lev's children), Lloyd Williams (love child of Earl Fitzherbert and Ethel), Carla and Erik von Ulrich, and Volodya Peshkov (Grigori's son). The only POV character outside of the original circle is [[NaziProtagonist Thomas Macke, a Gestapo officer]].
** And ''Eternity'' continues this with ''their'' children: Carla's kids Walli, Lili and Rebecca, Woody Dewar's son Cam, Lloyd and Daisy Williams' son Dave, Greg Peshkov's son George Jakes, and Volodya Peshkov's ''niece and nephew'' Tanya and Dimka Dworkin. (These last two are the kids of Volodya's sister and her NKVD husband, which means yes, ''they'' are descending from one of the last book's ''villains''!) Two additional POV characters are Jasper Murray, the son of Carla's and Daisy's friend Eva Rothmann, and Maria Summers, George Jakes' LoveInterest.
* TheVonTropeFamily: The von Ulrichs.
* YourCheatingHeart: Loads of it, both of the SympatheticAdulterer variety and the not-so-sympathetic.


!!''Fall of Giants'' provides examples of:

* DramaticIrony: At the end of the novel, Maud greets news of the failure of the Beer Hall Putsch with a relieved "Thank God that's over."
* GroinAttack: Lev Peshkov kicks a thug in the nuts.
* HistoricalInJoke: Fitz makes a comment about how Bolshevism should be "strangled at birth". A visiting UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill likes that turn of phrase.
* HustlingTheMark: Lev Peshkov does this to Gus Dewar in Petrograd.
* LawOfInverseFertility: Earl Fitzherbert and his wife are struggling to conceive but the earl knocks up maid Ethel Williams pretty quickly.
* LoveAcrossBattlelines: Walter and Maud, being German and British respectively during WWI.
* ManOnFire: After the explosion in the Aberowen coal mine.
* OneHeadTaller: Gus towers over Rosa, as he is very tall and she is rather petite.
* RedOctober: Grigori is an enthusiastic participant.
* RichesToRags: Rich, aristocratic Lady Maud Fitzherbert winds up playing a piano in a seedy German bar after her brother cuts her off and her husband's family is ruined by the war.
* ShotAtDawn: The unfortunate fate of a fifteen-year-old boy who panics and bolts as troops are assembling to go over the top at the Somme.
* ATasteOfTheLash: Lev receives this after [[spoiler:impregnating the daughter of his powerful and Russian-mafia style employer]]

!!''Winter of the World'' provides examples of:

* AdorablyPrecociousChild: Woody.
* BestServedCold: Billy Williams gets a decades-long revenge against the Fitzherberts by [[spoiler:getting the grounds of their ancestral estate torn up.]]
* BiggerIsBetterInBed
--> "Oh, how nice....I may need two hands, though." (Joanne, upon undressing Woody)
* BookEnds: Political meetings are violently interrupted in Berlin in 1933, at the beginning of the book, and 1949, at the end of the book.
* DayOfTheJackboot: The original Day Of The Jackboot, as fascism takes over Germany.
* DeadGuyJunior: Carla names her son Walter, after his grandfather. (By the time of ''Edge of Eternity'', he just gets called Walli by everyone.)
* EvilVersusEvil: Much is made of the fact that the Nazis and the Communists are about equally horrible. Old-school conservatives/capitalists are treated as something of a third antagonist faction, though they are presented somewhat more sympathetically.
* GenerationXerox: The main character this time are the kids of the first book's protagonists, who largely tend to follow in their footsteps.
* GoodGirlsAvoidAbortion: Carla von Ulrich decides to keep the baby after being impregnated by a Red Army soldier who raped her.
* {{GRU}}: Volodya Peshkov is a GRU agent.
* HazyFeelTurn: Devoted Nazi Erik turns against them upon seeing firsthard proof of their mass murders...and promptly becomes just as devoted to Communism.
* HeelFaceTurn: Boy Fitzherbert is a Blackshirt during the '30s, but joins the RAF when war is declared. Not that this makes him any less of a jerk.
* HeelRealization: Erik has this for himself and the entire nation of Germany after seeing an ''Einsatzgruppe'' committing mass murder of civilians in Russia.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: Colonel Bobrov, a Soviet officer in the Spanish Civil War who shoots several men for retreating from a hopeless situation, calling them cowards. [[spoiler:He later tries to flee Moscow ahead of the Germans rather than staying to fight, and is beaten to death by an angry mob.]]
* [[HeroicBSOD "Heroic" BSOD]]: ''JosefStalin'', out of all people! After Hitler breaks the non-aggression treaty between the USSR and Germany, Stalin retreats to his dacha and shuts down any contact to the outside world. The Peshkovs and several other high-ranking Soviets have to come and snap him out of it. (Though it may or may not have been a XanatosGambit by Stalin, in order to secure his position as leader even after this disaster.)
* HeroicBastard: Lloyd Williams is this, crusading against Fascism throughout the book, from the British Union of Fascists march in London, to the Spanish Civil War, to World War II.
* IdenticalGrandson: Lloyd's true parentage gets revealed after Daisy discovers that he looks strikingly similar to [[spoiler: Earl Fitzherbert's dad]].
* JizzedInMyPants: This happens at a very, very inconvenient time. [[spoiler:Maud Fitzherbert seduced a young German officer in order to receive pieces of information and transmit them to German resistance. She intended to have sex with him in order to divert him from his bag and allow Carla von Ulrich to photograph the plan he is carrying. But, as he came too soon, his attention wandered from Maud, and he wound up busting Carla.]]
* LaResistance: Lloyd Williams works with the original.
* NaziNobleman: Erik von Ulrich is ''technically'' this, but his parents' lifestyle is not very typical for aristocrats. Ironically, a straighter example would be his cousin Boy Fitzherbert's short stint at being a British Union Of Fascists Nobleman.
* NaziProtagonist: Erik von Ulrich (initially) and Thomas Macke.
* PornStash: Daisy finds her husband's.
* POWCamp: Lloyd Williams finds himself in one in 1940.
* RightHandVersusLeftHand: Volodya Peshkov loses one of his contact for the GRU (a foreign diplomat in Moscow) because the NKVD (political police and concurrent Russian intelligence service) arrested said diplomat's girlfriend.
* SweetPollyOliver: Daisy Peshkov gets Boy Fitzherbert to propose to her by taking advantage of his odd interest in her dressing like a man. Though it doesn't count as {{Sweet On Polly Oliver}}, as it's never a secret.
* SympatheticAdulterer: Daisy, whose husband is a complete scumbag.
* ThoseWackyNazis
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Pinksy, the nasty police officer who was the major villain of Grigori's story in ''Giants'', appeared to be set up to continue to be a problem in the second, but is nowhere to be found.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: Lev Peshkov sets one of these up in order to ruin a business rival.

!!''Edge of Eternity'' provides examples of:

* AmazinglyEmbarrassingParents: Embarrassing spouse in the form of Cam Dewar's Polish wife during a high society dinner in the US.
* AmericaSavesTheDay: Averted. During TheGreatPoliticsMessUp, Cam Dewar's colleague points out that the USA has actually contributed rather little to the fall of communism, in spite of all their efforts, which often even proved to be counterproductive.
* AsYouKnow: "Mom, the Supreme Court has ruled that segregation on interstate buses and bus stations is unconstitutional--but those Southerners just defy the law." Followed a couple paragraphs later by "You grew up privileged. At least, you did after your white father came back into our lives when you were six years old."
* BrilliantButLazy: Lloyd considers his son Dave to be this, because he knows that he is not stupid, but can't quite understand why Dave does care more for playing guitar than learning for school. Many years later, Dave's own son John Lee [[spoiler:gets diagnosed with dyslexia]], and Dave figures that this must have been the actual reason for his problems too.
* BullyingADragon: Dimka intentionally tries to evoke this when it comes to the confrontation between him and Natalya's [[TheMafiya gangster]] husband. It works, but the narration makes it clear that Dimka himself is feeling scared as Hell the whole time.
* CallBack: 28 years after a segregationist broke Freedom Rider George Jakes' arm in Anniston, AL in 1961, that same segregationist comes to Congressman George Jakes' office to apologize.
* ChuckCunninghamSyndrome: Erik von Ulrich, one of the surviving viewpoint characters from ''Winter of the World'', never even gets mentioned here.
* CIAEvilFBIGood: The CIA (for whom Cam Dewar is working) doesn't get away very well in this book. The FBI too at first, but after the dead of J. Edgar Hoover, they start taking their job seriously and investigate against UsefulNotes/RichardNixon.
* CigaretteOfAnxiety: Nina's hands are shaking while she lights a cigarette after Dimka confronts her about her adultery.
* CoolOldGuy and Cool Old Gal: Most viewpoint characters from ''Fall of Giants'' come off as this, due to the plot now being told from the perspective of their grandkids.
* TheCoup: UsefulNotes/NikitaKhrushchev is sacked in 1964. Dimka is pleased that neither he nor his boss Khruschev are murdered.
* DistantFinale: The last chapter ends with the fall of the UsefulNotes/BerlinWall in 1989, while the epilogue takes place at the start of UsefulNotes/BarackObama's presidency in 2008, thus skipping the entire [[TheNineties 90s]] and most of the [[TurnOfTheMillennium 2000s]].
* {{Expy}}: Evie Williams' trip to [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar North Vietnam]] is clearly meant to evoke the one Creator/JaneFonda took in RealLife.
* FreeLoveFuture: In TheSixties, Beep Dewar believes that this utopia has been achieved now. [[spoiler:Dave Williams, her boyfriend at this time, catches her in bed with Walli Franck and strongly disagrees.]]
* GoldDigger:
** Dimka's first wife turns out to be one. But Dimka [[ReasonableAuthorityFigure isn't the sort of guy]] who [[CorruptPolitician would abuse his power for accumulating luxuries]], so she starts an affair with someone who does.
** Cam's wife Lidka may or may not actually be this. Though Cam is well aware of this possibility, he doesn't care, he is just glad that he has found a wife at all.
* HappyEndingMassage: Lonely bachelor Cam Dewar gets these.
* HeelFaceTurn: Earl Fitzherbert has mellowed out considerably in his old age. He's introduced warmly congratulating his former maid and old flame Maud on being given a peerage, and finally wants to be part of his illegitimate son and grandson's lives.
* InformedJudaism: Jasper and Anna Murray are Jewish on their mother's side, but this fact rarely gets brought up. Rebecca's biological parents have been Jews too, but because she has been adopted and raised by the non-Jewish family Franck, this is a JustifiedTrope in her case.
* AManIsNotAVirgin: "Dimka Dvorkin was abashed to be a virgin at the age of twenty-two."
* ThePeteBest: InUniverse. Dave Williams's band "Plum Nellie" has two: the unreliable guy Walli Franck has to replace during the band's stay in {{UsefulNotes/Hamburg}}, and Dave's cousin Lenny - the ''founder'' of the band!
* RammingAlwaysWorks: Walli escapes into [[{{UsefulNotes/Berlin}} West Berlin]] by driving a truck right through the barrier at the border gate. Unfortunately, he [[spoiler:kills a border guard in the process]], which means that, apart from the feelings of guilt this is causing him, he can't go back to UsefulNotes/EastGermany [[spoiler:without the risk of getting arrested for murder]].
* ReassignedToAntarctica:
** Early in the story, the TASS reporter Tanya Dvorkin gets punished by being resigned to {{UsefulNotes/Cuba}} - just in time for [[ReassignmentBackfire witnessing the Cuban Missile Crisis firsthand]].
** Something similar happens later to Jasper Murray: As punishment for all too critical news reports, the TV channel he works for fires him, and the only job he can get after that is as correspondent in Europe - shortly before the HoleInFlag revolutions are about to start.
* StateSec: Hans Hoffmann is a Stasi agent with a [[ItsPersonal personal grudge]] against the Franck family.
* TangledFamilyTree: By the end of the trilogy, all five main families have intermarried. John Lee is even directly blood-related to four of these families! [[labelnote:His family tree goes like this.]]He is the son of Beep Dewar and Dave Williams, who is the son of Daisy Peshkov and Lloyd Williams, who in turn is the son of Ethel Williams and Earl Fitzherbert.[[/labelnote]]
* ThereIsOnlyOneBed: How Dimka and Natalya wind up having sex. After an emergency conference at the Kremlin during the Cuban Missile Crisis, they go looking for a place to sleep and find one old bed in a furniture storeroom.
* ThreeWaySex: Walli gets with two groupies but can't climax because he's too depressed about Karolin dumping him.
* WellDoneDadGuy: Greg Peshkov tries to reconcile with his son George ([[spoiler:successfully]]), Fitz with his son Lloyd ([[spoiler:less successfully, but he manages to build up a relationship to his grandson Dave]]), and when [[spoiler:Lev Peshkov meets his son Volodya for the first time]], he tells him that [[SelfDeprecation he (the son) hasn't missed much]], [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming but he (the father) has]].