Ken Follett is a Welsh author, born in Cardiff in 1949. His historical thrillers have achieved huge popularity across the globe, particularly in the USA where he has made the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list on several occasions- he has sold more than 130 million copies! His big breakthrough came with “Eye Of The Needle”, published in 1978, which won the prestigious Edgar Award and was also adapted for the big screen.
I am a big fan of historical fiction, and Follett really is a master of it. Somehow a setting in history can really help bring a plot to life, as readers can associate with the characters much more easily, especially if they have an underlying knowledge of the historical events. Using events in history for the inspiration of a novel can be particularly successful if a well known and emotionally charged piece of history is used- e.g. The American Civil War, Vietnam or World War Two. If you are interested in reading some historical fiction, then I would really consider some of Ken Follett’s Books.
Eye of the Needle
Set just before the D-Day landings in World War Two, Eye of the Needle is a story about a spy who is working for Hitler and has uncovered some very valuable information. The Allies have been using decoy tactics such as fake tanks and planes to throw the Germans off the scent, hoping that the Germans will believe that the landing target is Calais and not the Normandy beaches. However, Henry Faber, a spy known as “The Needle” for his deadly skills uncovers the true objectives of the Allies. The race is on for MI5 to prevent him sending this vital information back to Hitler.
A Dangerous Fortune
A Dangerous Fortune is a story set in the mysterious world of Victorian merchant banking- as well as being a great story; it is also a particularly good novel to read at the moment, when the world is looking back at the damage caused to our financial systems. Corrupt Edward Pilaster and Mickey Miranda are irresponsible bankers, unlike Edward’s more talented cousin Hugh. They build a bank based on a serious of dodgy assets (sound familiar?) and in doing so, threaten to bring down the might of the British economy.
The Pillars of the Earth
Published in 1989, The Pillars of the Earth is a novel about the building of a cathedral in a fictional town in England called Kingsbridge in the 12 century, during the reign of King Stephen. Tom Builder dreams of constructing a cathedral, but he needs to find a Lord with the wealth and interest in hiring him- in his pursuit he is dragged into the religion and politics of twelfth century England.