If you are an avid reader, chances are that you have come across the name Ken Follett. This author has written dozens of books across different genres, from thrillers to historical fiction. But with so many books to choose from, where do you start? In this article, you will discover the best Ken Follett books to read now, whether you’re a long-time fan or a newcomer to his work.
A Brief Introduction to Ken Follett
Ken Follett is an acclaimed Welsh writer born in Cardiff in 1949. He studied philosophy at University College London before working as a journalist in the 1970s. His first novel, Eye of the Needle, published in 1978, was an instant success, making him a bestselling author overnight. Since then, Follett has written over 30 books, which have sold more than 150 million copies worldwide.
Who is Ken Follett?
Kenneth Martin Follett is a British author born in Cardiff. He is a bestselling author who has published almost 40 books, the most successful of which is The Pillars of the Earth.
The Evolution of Follett’s Writing Style
Over the years, Follett’s writing style has evolved and diversified, from spy thrillers to historical epics. His early books, such as Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca, were fast-paced spy thrillers set during World War II. However, Follett’s breakthrough came with The Pillars of the Earth, a sprawling historical novel set in 12th-century England. This epic saga introduced Follett’s signature style of blending historical accuracy with fictional characters and events, which proved to be a winning formula.
Since then, Follett has continued to write historical epics, including World Without End and A Column of Fire. These books have not only been bestsellers but have also been adapted into successful TV series and miniseries.
Aside from historical fiction, Follett has also written contemporary thrillers, such as The Third Twin and The Hammer of Eden. He has also written non-fiction books, including On Wings of Eagles, which tells the story of two of his employees who were imprisoned in Iran.
Follett’s writing style has been praised for its attention to detail and character development. His historical novels are meticulously researched, and his fictional characters are often woven into real historical events. This combination of fact and fiction creates a rich and immersive reading experience.
In addition to his writing, Follett is also a philanthropist. He has donated millions of dollars to various causes, including education and the arts. He also founded the Follett Trust, which supports local charities in his hometown of Cardiff.
The Pillars of the Earth Series
The Pillars of the Earth is a historical novel that takes us back to the 12th century, a time of great change and upheaval in England. The novel follows the lives of ordinary people in the fictional town of Kingsbridge, as they struggle to survive and thrive in a world of political intrigue and religious conflict.
The book was first published in 1989 and remains one of Follett’s most popular works. It has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
The Pillars of the Earth
The first book in the series, The Pillars of the Earth, is a masterpiece of historical fiction. The story begins with the accidental death of the Earl of Shiring, which sets off a chain of events that ultimately leads to the construction of a magnificent cathedral.
The main characters are Tom Builder, a talented stonemason who dreams of building a cathedral, Aliena, the daughter of an earl who is forced to flee her home, and Jack, an outlaw turned builder who becomes Tom’s apprentice. Together, they band together to create a masterpiece that will shape the future of their town.
But the road to success is not easy. They face many challenges along the way, from corrupt officials to rival builders. And as they work on the cathedral, they must also navigate their own personal struggles, including love, loss, and betrayal.
The Pillars of the Earth is a thrilling and captivating read that will transport you back in time to the medieval world of Kingsbridge.
World Without End
The sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, takes us back to Kingsbridge two centuries later, during the 14th century. The world has changed dramatically since the time of Tom Builder and his companions. The Black Death has ravaged Europe, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction.
The book’s main characters are Caris, a headstrong woman who is determined to become a doctor, Merthin, a carpenter and aspiring engineer, and Godwyn, a calculating monk with ambitions to become a bishop. Through their lives, we see the sweeping changes that transformed Medieval Europe, from the rise of merchant towns to the end of feudalism.
World Without End is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that explores the complex social, political, and religious issues of the time. It is a must-read for anyone interested in the history of Europe and the Middle Ages.
A Column of Fire
Published in 2017, A Column of Fire takes us back to Kingsbridge 200 years after World Without End. This time, the story is set during the religious wars between Catholics and Protestants that shook Europe in the 16th century.
The book’s main characters are Ned Willard, a Protestant spy for the English queen, Margery Fitzgerald, a Catholic who falls in love with Ned, and Pierre Aumande, a Frenchman who plots to topple the English monarchy. The novel vividly portrays the era of religious turmoil, as people’s loyalties and beliefs are put to the test.
A Column of Fire is a gripping and thrilling read that will keep you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. It is a testament to Follett’s skill as a storyteller and his deep understanding of history.
The Evening and the Morning
The latest addition to the Kingsbridge series, The Evening and the Morning, was released in 2020. The book takes us back to the Dark Ages, centuries before the events of The Pillars of the Earth. The story follows three main characters, a young boatbuilder named Edgar, a Norman noblewoman named Ragna, and a shy monk named Aldred as they struggle against Viking invaders and corrupt lords.
The book offers a glimpse into the harsh realities of early Medieval England and sets the stage for the epic tale that would follow generations later. It is a powerful and moving story that will transport you back in time and leave you wanting more.
Overall, the Kingsbridge series is a must-read for anyone who loves historical fiction. With its richly drawn characters, vivid descriptions, and compelling storylines, it is a true masterpiece of the genre.
The Century Trilogy
The Century Trilogy is a literary masterpiece by Ken Follett, spanning the 20th century with three books set during World War I, World War II, and the Cold War respectively. The trilogy is a captivating tale of five families from different countries, interconnected by war, politics, and personal relationships.
The books are a perfect blend of history and fiction, making them a must-read for anyone interested in the events that shaped the 20th century. The Century Trilogy is an epic journey that takes the reader through some of the most significant moments in history, from the outbreak of World War I to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Fall of Giants
The first book in the trilogy, Fall of Giants, is a gripping tale that takes place between 1911 and 1924. The book follows the lives of five families from different countries, all interconnected by war, politics, and personal relationships. The book covers the outbreak of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the struggles of working-class people to improve their lot in life. The characters are well-developed, and their stories are intertwined in a way that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish.
Fall of Giants is a fascinating portrayal of the events that led to World War I, and the impact of the war on the lives of ordinary people. It is a story of love, loss, and sacrifice, and it is a must-read for anyone interested in history and the human condition.
Winter of the World
The second book in the trilogy, Winter of the World, is a continuation of the first book. It picks up where Fall of Giants left off, following the same families’ descendants as they navigate the upheavals of World War II. The book covers a vast range of events, from the Spanish Civil War to the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Winter of the World is a powerful portrayal of the horrors of war and the resilience of the human spirit. The characters are complex and well-developed, and their stories are intertwined in a way that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. The book is a testament to the courage and sacrifice of ordinary people who fought for freedom and justice during one of the darkest periods in human history.
Edge of Eternity
The third and final book in the trilogy, Edge of Eternity, is a captivating tale that spans the Cold War era from the 1960s to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The book’s main characters come from the same families as the first two books, and their experiences reflect the social and political changes of the time, from the Civil Rights movement in America to the Solidarity movement in Poland.
Edge of Eternity is a powerful portrayal of the struggle for human rights and freedom in the face of oppression. The characters are well-developed, and their stories are intertwined in a way that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. The book is a testament to the courage and resilience of ordinary people who fought for a better world during one of the most turbulent periods in human history.
The Century Trilogy is a must-read for anyone interested in history, politics, and the human condition. It is a powerful portrayal of the events that shaped the 20th century, and it is a testament to the courage and resilience of ordinary people who fought for a better world.
The Kingsbridge Novels
Besides the Pillars of the Earth series and the Century Trilogy, Ken Follett has also written standalone novels set in different historical periods. While not as well-known as his other works, these novels are still worth reading for their engaging characters and plotlines.
You can find this book here.
The Man from St. Petersburg
The Man from St. Petersburg is a historical thriller set in 1914, on the eve of World War I. The book follows the story of a Russian assassin who travels to London to carry out a mission but gets caught up in the lives of the people he meets, including Winston Churchill and an American suffragette. The novel is a gripping page-turner, with unexpected twists and turns that keep readers guessing until the end.
A Dangerous Fortune
A Dangerous Fortune is a thrilling historical novel set in the late 19th century about the rise of banking and finance in England. The book follows several characters as they struggle to build their careers and fortunes while navigating the treacherous waters of financial speculation and family drama. The novel is a gripping masterpiece that showcases Follett’s talent for creating suspenseful and memorable characters.
A Place Called Freedom
A Place Called Freedom is a historical novel set in Scotland and Virginia during the 18th century, focusing on the struggles of a Scottish coal miner named Mack McAsh who dreams of freedom and equality. The book explores themes such as slavery, class struggle, and the need for self-determination, making it a thought-provoking and compelling read.
With dozens of books under his belt, Ken Follett is an author who has something for everyone, from gripping thrillers to sweeping historical epics. Whether you’re a fan of his work already or just getting started, the books listed in this article are some of his best and most entertaining reads. Whichever book you choose to read first, you’re sure to be swept away by Follett’s masterful storytelling and vivid characters.
Who is Ken Follett?
Ken Follett is one of the most influential British writers in modern literary history.
What are the top Ken Follett books ever written?
The Pillars of the Earth, Never, World Without End, A Column of Fire, and The Armour of Light are all great choices.
What genre does Ken Follett write in?
Ken Follett predominantly writes in the historical fiction genre, however, his writing frequently toys with other genres such as thriller, espionage, and mystery.
Where is Ken Follett from?
Ken Follett is Welsh, having been born in the Welsh capital Cardiff. However, he now resides in Hertfordshire in England.