Born June 5, 1949, in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, Ken Follett is a Welsh writer of thrillers and historical novels. He began his career as a journalist for the Evening News, then left in favor of publishing. He began writing fiction as a hobby, and later, when he needed extra money to fix his car.
Ken Follett became an international best-seller author with the publication of Eye of the Needle and has now sold more than 160 million copies of his works. He has had a number of novels made into films and television mini-series–The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End being the most famous adaptations.
How to read Ken Follett’s Books in Order?
You’ll find all of his novels here, series and stand-alone.
Apples Carstairs series (as Simon Myles)
- The Big Needle (1974) (a.k.a. The Big Apple) – Apples loves money and beautiful women – and he has plenty of both. With his young daughter dying from a heroin overdose, Apples does not take on the local pusher – that’s not his style. He takes on the top man, Mr Big H and his brutal, multimillion-pound drug racket.
- The Big Black (1974) – A pornographic photograph of Apples and his lovers; a blackmail threat to a key Common Market negotiatior. Two mysteries leading Apples, the relentless avenger, through a web of intrigue from Brussels to the New York empire of power-crazed Joshua Hind, The Big Black.
- The Big Hit (1975) – Winston Divine is a star – a brilliant, successful musician. Tycoons fight to manage him; girls and critics love him. So why is he acting so scared? He rings an old friend, Apples Carstairs, and dies minutes later. Apples wants to know why – and uncovers a web of bribery, blackmail and corruption extending throughout the music business.
The Piers Roper series
- The Shakeout (1975) – Roper is an industrial spy working for a man known only as ‘Palmer’. He takes on a rival spy network to manipulate a major takeover. But he finds more than he bargained for among the bitter politics and infighting. And all his plans are threatened when one his chosen pawns, a beautiful and clever woman named Ann, break down his defences and he falls in love.
- The Bear Raid (1976) – Industrial super-spy Piers Roper takes on a Wall Street raid. But who is calling the shots? Leaving the job to sharp young executive, Clayton, Roper lifts the lid on a savage Mafia scene, is framed for a brutal murder and is then betrayed by the beautiful Louise. Clayton reveals a secret Government deal that almost defeats Roper. But Roper is a winner.
The Kingsbridge series
Launched in 1989, The Kingsbridge series started with the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known. Tom, the mason who becomes his architect-is a man divided in his soul. The beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena is, haunted by a secret shame. It was a tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England.
To know more about it, visit our page dedicated to The Kingsbridge series.
- The Pillars of the Earth (1989)
- World Without End (2007)
- A Column of Fire (2017)
- The Evening and the Morning (2020) – Prequel to The Pillars of the Earth.
- The Armour of Light (2023) –
The Century Trilogy
- Fall of Giants (2010) – follows five interrelated families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-through the world-shaking dramas of the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for votes for women.
- Winter of the World (2012) – follows its five interrelated families through a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the great dramas of World War II, and into the beginning of the long Cold War.
- Edge of Eternity (2014) – follows the fortunes of five international families-American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh-as they made their way through the twentieth century. Now they come to one of the most tumultuous eras of all: the 1960s through the 1980s, from civil rights, assassinations, mass political movements, and Vietnam to the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidential impeachment, revolution-and rock and roll.
- Amok: King of Legend (1976) (as Bernard L. Ross) – Harry staggered back – the tree had moved. In wave of horror, he understood what he was seeing. The ‘tree’ was a huge, fur-covered leg. He stared up into a huge, distorted, almost-human face. A great paw the size of an automobile swooped down. He had found the Amok, and the first thing to do was to get himself and Purity out of danger. But the beast had vanished. And so had the girl.
- The Modigliani Scandal (1976) (as Zachary Stone) – When art historian Dee Sleign hears of a lost painting by Amedeo Modigliani, one of the greatest artists to have ever lived, she becomes determined to reclaim it so it can be viewed by the world.
- The Mystery Hideout (1976) (as Martin Martinsen) (a.k.a. The Secret of Kellerman’s Studio) – Exploring in an old unused film studio, two boys run across clues to a series of unsolved bank robberies.
- The Power Twins (1976) (as Martin Martinsen) – Earthlings Fritz and Helen use their special powers to uncover the motives of treacherous rivals who will stop at nothing to win control of the mysterious Worm Planet
- Paper Money (1977) (as Zachary Stone) – In one suspenseful, action-packed day, fortunes change hands as an ambitious young reporter scrambles to crack the story. A suicidal junior minister, an avaricious tycoon, and a seasoned criminal with his team of tough guys all play their parts in a scheme that moves “paper money” around at a dizzying pace.
- Capricorn One (1978) (as Bernard L. Ross) (based on screenplay by Peter Hyams) – Capricorn One: the first manned flight to Mars. The countdown has already begun when the life support system fails so NASA plans a 30 billion-dollar fraud. The ship blasts off on schedule, but the live footage of the landing comes from a film set deep in the Arizona desert. When the capsule burns up on re-entry, NASA is left with three live astronauts who they want dead fast.
- Eye of the Needle (1978) (a.k.a. Storm Island) (Edgar Award, 1979, Best Novel) – His code name was “The Needle.” He was a German aristocrat of extraordinary intelligence-a master spy with a legacy of violence in his blood, and the object of the most desperate manhunt in history. But his fate lay in the hands of a young and vulnerable English woman, whose loyalty, if swayed, would assure his freedom-and win the war for the Nazis.
- Triple (1979) – As Egypt comes closer and closer to developing a nuclear bomb, the Mossad’s number one Israeli agent is given an impossible mission: to beat the Arabs in the nuclear arms race by finding and stealing two hundred tons of uranium.
- The Key to Rebecca (1980) – A brilliant and ruthless Nazi master agent is on the loose in Cairo. His mission is to send Rommel’s advancing army the secrets that will unlock the city’s doors. In all of Cairo, only two people can stop him. One is a down-on-his-luck English officer no one will listen to. The other is a vulnerable young Jewish girl.
- The Man from St. Petersburg (1982) – His name was Feliks. He came to London to commit a murder that would change history. A master manipulator, he had many weapons at his command, but against him were ranged the whole of the English police, a brilliant and powerful lord, and the young Winston Churchill himself. These odds would have stopped any man in the world-except the man from St. Petersburg.
- On Wings of Eagles (1983) – based on the incredible real-life rescue of two Americans by a Green Beret colonel and a group of corporate executives from revolutionary Iran.
- Lie Down with Lions (1985) – Ellis, the American. Jean-Pierre, the Frenchman…. They were two men on opposite sides of the cold war, with a woman torn between them. Together, they formed a triangle of passion and deception, racing from terrorist bombs in Paris to the violence and intrigue of Afghanistan – and on to the moment of truth and a deadly decision for all of them.
- Night Over Water (1991) – September 1939. England is at war with Nazi Germany. In Southampton, the world’s most luxurious airliner takes off for its final flight to neutral America. Aboard are the cream of society and the dregs of humanity, all fleeing the war for reasons of their own shadowed by a danger they do not know exists and heading straight into a storm of violence, intrigue, and betrayal.
- A Dangerous Fortune (1993) – In 1866, tragedy strikes the exclusive Windfield School when a young student drowns in a mysterious accident. His death and its aftermath initiate a spiraling circle of treachery that will span three decades and entwine many lives.
- A Place Called Freedom (1995) – Scotland, 1766. Sentenced to a life of misery in the brutal coal mines, twenty-one-year-old Mack McAsh hungers for escape. His only ally: the beautiful, highborn Lizzie Hallim, who is trapped in her own kind of hell. Though separated by politics and position, these two restless young people are bound by their passionate search for a place called freedom.
- The Third Twin (1996) – Using a restricted FBI database, genetic researcher Jeanie Ferrami has located identical twins born to different mothers. Frightened by her bizarre discovery, she is determined to discover the truth at any cost-until she finds herself at the center of a scandal that could ruin her career.
- The Hammer of Eden (1998) – The FBI doesn’t believe it. The Governor wants the problem to disappear. But agent Judy Maddox knows the threat is real: An extreme group of eco-terrorists has the means and the know-how to set off a massive earthquake of epic proportions. For California, time is running out.
- Code to Zero (2000) – A man wakes up to find himself lying on the ground in a railway station, his mind stripped bare of all recollection. He has no idea how he got there; he does not even know his own name. Convinced he is a drunken down and out, it isn’t until a newspaper report about a satellite launch catches his eye, that he suspects all is not what it seems . . .
- Jackdaws (2001) – A senior agent in the ranks of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) responsible for sabotage, Flick has survived to become one of Britain’s most effective operatives in Northern France. She knows that the Germans’ ability to thwart the Allied attack depends upon their lines of communications, and in the days before the invasion no target is of greater strategic importance than the largest telephone exchange in Europe.
- Hornet Flight (2002) – In June 1941, with the war not going well for the British, the lives of three people on both sides of the English Channel–MI6 intelligence analyst Hermia Mount, Danish police detective and collaborator Peter Flemming, and young Harald Olufsen–intertwine as Harald makes a discovery that could change the course of the war, if he can get the information to England.
- Whiteout (2004) – A missing canister of a deadly virus. A lab technician bleeding from the eyes. Toni Gallo, the security director of a Scottish medical research firm, knows she has problems, but she has no idea of the nightmare to come. As a Christmas Eve blizzard whips out of the north, several people, Toni among them, converge on a remote family house. All have something to gain or lose from the drug developed to fight the virus.
- The 99th Wife (2019) – Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a sultan who had ninety-nine wives. But, as soon as the marriage is pronounced, his last wife, the young and beautiful Katerina, begins to get bored: locked in the seraglio, she dreams of meeting love, the real one… This book was translated and published in France as La Belle et L’Oiseau.
- Never (2021) – “Every catastrophe begins with a little problem that doesn’t get fixed.” So says Pauline Green, president of the United States, in Follett’s nerve-racking drama of international tension. A shrinking oasis in the Sahara Desert; a stolen US Army drone; an uninhabited Japanese island; and one country’s secret stash of deadly chemical poisons: all these play roles in a relentlessly escalating crisis. Struggling to prevent the outbreak of world war are a young woman intelligence officer; a spy working undercover with jihadists; a brilliant Chinese spymaster; and Pauline herself, beleaguered by a populist rival for the next president election.
Non-fiction by Ken Follett
- Under the Streets of Nice: The Bank Heist of the Century (1978) (with René Louis Maurice, others) – The story of Albert Spaggiari, the mastermind of one of history’s most brilliant crimes–the theft of ten million dollars from a bank in France–shows how he won the public’s heart with his extraordinary audacity.
- Notre-Dame (2019) – In aid of the crucial restoration work to restore Paris’s great cathedral, Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals is a moving, short piece of non-fiction celebrating the stunning history of this beloved building, from Ken Follett, author of the multi-million copy selling Kingsbridge series.
If you like our guide to reading the books by Ken Follett, you may also want to check out Philippa Gregory’s novel, Wilbur Smith’s books, or Diana Gabaldon’s. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.