Posts Tagged Ken Follett

Spy vs. Spy

Spy vs. Spy

John le CarreWhen the cold war ended and the last spy came in from the cold, it was predicted that the espionage novel would fade with the “duck and cover” films. No longer were we under the constant threat of annihilation – we were finally free from the fear of nuclear war, and our way of life seemed secure. So did the spies created by John le Carré, Frederick Forsyth, and the rest of those who so skillfully managed the genre disappear from the literary scene? The answer is a resounding no. The world, as it turns out, isn’t safe after all.

A new kind of threat emerged and the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich was where it was born. A Palestinian group calling themselves Black September took 11 members of the Israeli Olympic Team hostage and eventually killed them. Terrorism was born that dark day in Germany, and we have watched it spread throughout the world, eventually landing on our own shores.

Since that time our enemies have taken many names – PLO, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hamas, and now Isis have grabbed the headlines, all state-sponsored terrorist groups with the expressed objective to destroy the West, its allies and its influence. In recent days Isis, a self-declared Islamic State that has seized over a third of Iraq, has boldly executed US trained Iraqi defense forces, destroyed religious sites including Jonah’s tomb, ordered the genital mutilation of all women between the ages of 11 and 46, and ordered all Christians to convert, leave or die.

In a world turned upside down a new breed of thriller writers emerged, establishing a new genre replete with 21st century characters shaped to meet the challenges of this new threat, a threat with a growing arsenal of weapons and tactics each intended to use violence against civilians. Ken Follett, Robert Littell, Robert Ludlum, and Tom Clancy took the lead in introducing us to this new era of thrillers, soon followed by Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, and of course, Daniel Silva.

Jason MatthewsJason Matthews, a 33-year veteran of the C.I.A. who “served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national-security intelligence” arrived with RED SPARROW, turning his considerable knowledge of espionage into a startling debut.

I AM PILGRIM is the best spy novel I have read in ten years – written by Terry Hayes. The first novel by Hayes, a filmmaker with a huge resume with Mad Max, the Road Warrior, and Beyond Thunderdome to his credit, is sure to follow with many more installments.


American Assassin Matthew PalmerMatthew Palmer is a twenty-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, currently serving as political counselor at the American Embassy in Belgrade. His recent debut, THE AMERICAN MISSION, is a top notch political thrill ride that delves into very complicated world of central African politics.

As a long time fan of the spy novel – Matt Damon was only ten years old when I first read The Bourne Identity – I have followed the genre’s transit to its current form with more than casual observation. The new breed of thriller writer has incredible style, an authentic voice, bringing to life characters that demonstrate reckless courage in the face of overwhelming odds. I can’t wait to see what comes next!


Okay, I shamefully admit, I skipped The Bricklayer by newcomer Noah Boyd

Agent X by Noah Boyd

Agent X by Noah BoydOkay, I shamefully admit, I skipped The Bricklayer by newcomer Noah Boyd.  The title didn’t grab me, and the last bricklayer (or stonefitter) that really met my expectation was Tom Builder in Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth.
However, when Agent X (also by Boyd) showed up I thought I’d give it a try. This follow-up to the bestselling first book, features the same cast of characters led by the reluctant FBI Specialist Steve Vail.  As it turns out Vail, a disgruntled former FBI agent prefers laying brick to dealing the bureau’s red tape and troublesome, if not inept, management.  Vail, the bad boy of the books is a really solid character, someone who gets things done . . . his way.

In Agent X, Vail navigates his way through a maze of hidden codes and brain-numbing puzzles to reveal a cadre of spies that have come to the attention of the FBI thanks to a Russian Embassy official known only as Calculus.

The story proved to be a solid addition to a genre dominated by Lee Child, Vince Flynn and Steve Hunter.  I am sold!

Noah Boyd is a pseudonym for FBI agent (more…)

Press Release: #1 New York Times Bestselling Author Ken Follett Releases his Latest Epic Novel – Fall of Giants

fall-of-giants-ken-follett1Tualatin, Oregon – August 10, 2010 – VJ Books ( presents signed editions of Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants (September 2010: Dutton) – the highly anticipated first book in The Century Trilogy.


Ken Follett, recognized the world over for his research and accurate historical detail in his books Pillars of the Earth and World Without End brings us Fall of Giants, a new epic novel coming in at over 1000 pages.  The size and expansiveness of this story does not come as a surprise to Follett fans who have come to expect nothing less.


Fall of Giants is the first novel in The Century Trilogy that covers the journey of five families of different nationalities, Russian, English, American, German and Welsh – all of them interrelated to each other. The events covered by the epic include First World War, Russian Revolution and the struggle for women’s vote.  The second book, slated for 2012, will feature the children of the characters in Fall of Giants through the Depression and WW2; the third book, due out in 2014, will be about the next generation in the Cold War.


“I am looking forward to the new series by Follett,” said John Hutchinson of VJ Books.  “ I consider Pillars (of the Earth) the best book written in the second half of the 20th century.  All of us at VJ Books were excited to learn that he would be signing the new book for us.”

The Century Trilogy is “a perfect canvas for Ken to exercise his considerable talents; an historical saga that combines the epic storytelling of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End with Ken’s trademarked ability to deliver all the suspense and excitement of his classic spy novels,” said Follett’s agent, Amy Berkower of Writers House.

Other Ken Follett books in chronological order are listed here:  (more…)

The 5 Richest Authors in the World

(, Nov. 26)

Forbes Magazine has released its list of the world’s highest paid authors. In a year when financial returns are a great source of consternation, some writers have still managed to rake in the cash. Top of the list is unsurprisingly J.K Rowling who managed to make $300 million over the course of the year. The Harry Potter franchise has generated $4.5 billion dollars since Rowling published the first of the stories dealing with young Harry and his magical exploits in 1998 catapulting the author from an existence as a single mother on welfare to the billionaire status in just ten years.

Second on the list is the ever productive James Patterson who made $50 million dollars this year. Patterson churns out his novels at the rate of at least two a year and has already sold more than 150 million books worldwide.

Third place goes to the king of horror Stephen King with $45 million made this year. The one time school teacher has published over 40 books and sold more than 350 million copies since the publication of Carrie in 1974.

Fourth place belongs to Tom Clancy, king of the political thriller and creator of Jack Ryan star of novels such as Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger. Last year Clancy sold videogame rights to Ubisoft for an estimated $100 million.

And finally in fifth place is the queen of the romance novel Danielle Steel who earned $30 million this year. Steel’s books (more than 70 titles) have been published in 47 countries and 28 languages and she also has an Elizabeth Arden perfume and a San Francisco art gallery on her resume.

Nicholas Sparks, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Dean Koontz and Ken Follett round up the list for this year.