15 Best Ken Follett Books Of All Time

We compiled a list of the best Ken Follett books, one of the top historical fiction authors with a unique and entertaining perspective on historical novels.

British writer Ken Follett was just 27 when he wrote his first novel, which immediately became an international bestseller. He writes thrillers primarily with rich historical settings.

He has published 37 books in more than 80 countries; he made it onto the New York Times bestseller list multiple times and won an Edgar Award with translations in over 35 other languages.

Popular Ken Follet Books

Best Ken Follett Books

Here are the 15 best Follett books to read now.

1. The Pillars of the Earth

Ken Follet
Ken Follet via Wikipedia, Public Domain

1989’s The Pillars of the Earth is the first book in the Kingsbridge Series. The plot centers around the construction of a cathedral by a devout monk named Philip, set in the fictional city of Kingsbridge, England, in the middle ages. It explores a uniquely framed battle of good and evil, involving Philip, his architect Tom, and the beautiful, shy Lady Aliena, who carries a dark secret.

“The world of power and property required that a man be suspicious, demanding, and insistent.”

The Pillars of the Earth: A Novel (Kingsbridge Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 733 Pages - 06/29/2010 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

2. Eye of the Needle

Eye of the Needle is Follett’s debut novel, released in 1978, originally going by the title Storm Island. It’s a suspenseful spy thriller set in Nazi Germany full to the brim with intrigue, mystery, suspense, and romance. The Needle is a German aristocrat and spy on the run, whose destiny ends up in the hands of a young, meek English woman who has the power both to free him and help the Nazis win World War II.

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“The trouble with being inspired to perform the impossible was that the inspiration gave you no clues to the practical means.”

Eye of the Needle: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - Samuel West (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 02/09/2021 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

3. Fall of Giants 

The Fall of Giants, released in 2010, is the first installment of the Century Trilogy, an epic historical fiction tale of five families from five countries who survived World War I, the Russian Revolution, and women’s suffrage. Follett does an inexplicably good job of weaving the stories of each of the families together, overlapping critical themes and making meaningful connections.

“The ability to listen to smart people who disagree with you is a rare talent.”

Fall of Giants: Book One of the Century Trilogy
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - John Lee (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/28/2010 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

4. A Dangerous Fortune

A Dangerous Fortune is a titillating political thriller with murder, romance, and financial ruin themes. Set in 1866 but published in 1993, A Dangerous Fortune tells the story of wealthy London elites after a young boy’s accidental drowning at the prestigious Winfield School. The book’s steady twists and turns keep readers enthralled, earning this thriller a spot on The New York Times bestseller list.

“A man who had a love affair was considered wicked but romantic; a woman who did the same was a whore.”

A Dangerous Fortune
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - Michael Page (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 05/13/2008 (Publication Date) - Brilliance Audio (Publisher)

5. Winter of the World

2012’s Winter of the World is book two in the Century Trilogy. It follows five different-but-related families of the Fall of Giants through the enormous challenges of World War II, the Cold War, and the Spanish Civil War. This book humanizes the historical fights against fascism and economic ruin with enamoring characters that readers can’t help but fall in love with.

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“And here’s my advice to you. If you get the chance of the mad kind of love, grab it with both hands and hell with the consequences.”

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Winter of the World: The Century Trilogy, Book 2
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - John Lee (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/18/2012 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

6. World Without End

A World Without End is the much-anticipated sequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is the second book in the Kingsbridge series, released in 2007. This tome begins two centuries following the construction of the renowned cathedral during the time of the Black Death, and once again, the building is at the center of the human condition. This novel explores the themes of ambition, greed, love, hate, and ultimately, revenge.

Other books in the Kingsbridge Series include The Evening and The Morning (the series’ prequel) and A Column of Fire.

“When you’ve lost everything, you’ve got nothing to lose.”

World Without End
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - John Lee (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 12/31/2006 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

7. Edge of Eternity, 2018

The Edge of Eternity is the third and final book in the Century Trilogy, released in 2018. This part of the series follows the same five intertwined families through the socioeconomic and political upheaval of the world during the 1960s through the 1980s. 

“A man hates the person he has wronged, paradoxically. I think it’s because the victim is a perpetual reminder that he behaved shamefully.”

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Edge of Eternity: The Century Trilogy, Book 3
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - John Lee (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 09/16/2014 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

8. The Key to Rebecca

Although it was published more than four decades ago in 1980, The Key to Rebecca remains one of the most beloved espionage novels. This story takes place in Cairo, Egypt, where a master Nazi spy is executing a mission to get critical intel to the advancing Nazi army about how to get into the city. There are only two people in all of Cairo who can save the city; a worn-out English police officer and a Jewish girl.

“The sun rises, and the sunsets. Sometimes it rains. We live, then we die.”

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The Key to Rebecca
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - Tim Downie (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 02/09/2021 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

9. Hornet Flight

Hornet Flight takes place in England in 1941 during World War II but released in 2002, where the main character Harald Olufsen finds a secret German hideout on a Danish Island near the North Sea. This discovery could alter the entire course of the war, but Harald must get the information to the Danish resistance as quickly as possible. 

“Fascism blames problems on a false cause—people of other races.”

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Hornet Flight
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - John Lee (Narrator)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/28/2005 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

10. Jackdaws

2001’s Jackdaws is another novel set during World War II, just before D-Day. Felicity Clariet, affectionately nicknamed “Flick,” is a Special Operations Executive whose plan to attack the German force goes wrong. Her husband is missing, her troops are dead, and she has just one last shot to complete her mission.

“When people are perfectly polite, it usually means they don’t really care. A little awkwardness is more sincere.”

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Jackdaws
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Ken Follett (Author) - Barbara Rosenblat, Colin Stinton (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/21/2005 (Publication Date) - Penguin Audio (Publisher)

11. A Place Called Freedom

A Place Called Freedom is set in Scotland in 1766 and published in 1995, where the main character Mack is desperate to escape the dank, filthy coal mines. His only hope lies in the beautiful but aristocratic Lizzie Hallim, who is facing her demons. Power, politics, and social status separate the two, who fight together to find a place where they can both be free.

“The law makes no decisions. It has no will of its own. It’s like a weapon or a tool: it works for those who pick it up and use it.”

A Place Called Freedom
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 580 Pages - 11/17/2010 (Publication Date) - Fawcett (Publisher)

12. Lie Down With Lions

Lie Down With Lions, published in 1985, is a gripping tale of two men on either side of the Cold War, both in love with a woman who found herself torn between the two of them. This book keeps a breakneck speed, taking readers through the twists and turns of romance, lust, deception, war, terrorism, and the fight for the truth. 

“Religious conviction may thwart a timid desire, but nothing can stand against genuine lust.”

Lie Down with Lions
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 388 Pages - 12/02/2003 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

13. On Wings Of Eagles

Follett takes a different approach with his 1983 book On Wings Of Eagles, a true story of patriotic hero H. Ross Perot. Readers travel to a hostage crisis in the Middle East in 1978, where Perot and his volunteers faced a nearly impossible mission to free American captives from the depths of a heavily guarded Iranian prison.

“If you go through life worrying about all the bad things that can happen, you soon convince yourself that it’s best to do nothing at all.”

On Wings of Eagles: The Inspiring True Story of One Man's Patriotic Spirit--and His Heroic Mission to Save His Countrymen
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1 Page - 09/03/1984 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

14. Triple

1979’s Triple is a standalone novel set in Egypt, where government officials are drawing ever closer to constructing a nuclear bomb. The main characters include members of special ops groups like the Mossad and the KJB, whose mission is to steal more than 200 tons of uranium to prevent Arabs from winning the nuclear arms race. If the special ops teams fail, the price is steep: nuclear war.

“When there is no longer any possibility of running away, you realize how fiercely you can fight.”

Triple: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 511 Pages - 02/03/2015 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

15. Night Over Water

Night Over Water is another of Follett’s novels set in World War II when England joined the war against Nazi Germany; it was published in 1991. Aboard a luxury airliner bound for America are both England’s high society and the nobodies, each looking to escape the growing conflict for their reasons.

“Fascism is the most frightful wickedness.”

Night over Water
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Follett, Ken (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 1 Page - 04/06/2004 (Publication Date) - Penguin Books (Publisher)

The Final Word On The Best Ken Follett Books 

Ken Follett is one of the greatest authors of his time, and his works will undoubtedly continue to stock bookstores, library, and personal bookshelves for years to come. 

FAQs About The BestKen Follett Books

What Is Ken Follett’s Best Book? 

The Eye of the Needle has won an Edgar Award and remains his most famous book. 

When Is Ken Follet’s Next Book Coming Out? 

Follett’s most recent book, Never, was published in November 2021. It’s a “what-if” thriller about a yet-to-pass nuclear war, a chilling echo of today’s political climate. It is not yet known if Never will have a sequel. 

Is there an order to read Ken Follett’s books?

Ken Follett is an incredibly prolific author who not only sports a wide range of books but also dabbles in many different genres. As a general rule, his spy books and thrillers can be read in any order, but his historical novels such as the Kingsbridge series should be read in a specific order, The Kingsbridge series begins with The Pillars of the Earth, while his Century trilogy begins with Fall of Giants.

What are the three books in the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett?

The order for the Century trilogy is Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity. These three books follow five interrelated families across the world (from America, Germany, Russia, England and Wales) as they move through the first World War and Russian Revolution and follow these stories across the major events of the twentieth century and right up to the present day.

Who Narrates Ken Follett?

Ken Follett’s books are narrated by British actor and playwright John Lee. He has won a variety of awards for his voice work, and some of his more popular audiobooks aside from Follett’s books include renditions of Dracula, The Odyssey, The Count of Monty Cristo and A Tale of Two Cities.

How long is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth?

The Pillars of the Earth is one of Follett’s first books with a more epic scope, coming in at just over 800 pages. This book alone has been adapted into an eight-part miniseries starring Ian McShane and Hayley Atwell in 2010 (earning three Golden Globe Nominations), and was translated into a video game back in 2017 developed by Daedalic Entertainment.

Is Ken Follett a good author?

Ken Follett is regarded as one of the best popular writers today. In both his thrillers and his historical fiction, he has a driving ambition to explore political themes, cultural trends and a range of fascinating and diverse characters. But his biggest strength is his world-building, and the best Ken Follett books have a way of bringing the reader into the world of the book in a way most other authors can only aspire to.

What did Ken Follett study?

Follett graduated from University College London with an honours degree in Philosophy and was later made a fellow of the college. This led him to become a reporter for the London Evening News before he began his career as a novelist.

Further Reading

If you liked this list of the best Ken Follet books, you might also enjoy our guide on the best suspense authors

You may also be interested in our round-up of the best historical fiction authors

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