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Lie Down with Lions

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A romantic adventure with twisting suspense from the author of Night Over Water and Pillars of the Earth.

332 pages, Paperback

First published November 28, 1985

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About the author

Ken Follett

355 books52k followers
Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995.

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Ken’s first major success came with the publication of Eye of the Needle in 1978. A World War II thriller set in England, this book earned him the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel from the Mystery Writers of America. It remains one of Ken’s most popular books.

In 1989, Ken’s epic novel about the building of a medieval cathedral, The Pillars of the Earth, was published. It reached number one on best-seller lists everywhere and was turned into a major television series produced by Ridley Scott, which aired in 2010. World Without End, the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, proved equally popular when it was published in 2007.

Ken’s new book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published in September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.

Ken has been active in numerous literacy charities and was president of Dyslexia Action for ten years. He was chair of the National Year of Reading, a joint initiative between government and businesses. He is also active in many Stevenage charities and is President of the Stevenage Community Trust and Patron of Home-Start Hertfordshire.

Ken, who loves music almost as much as he loves books, is an enthusiastic bass guitar player. He lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, with his wife Barbara, the former Labour Member of Parliament for Stevenage. Between them they have five children, six grandchildren and two Labradors.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 815 reviews
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,027 reviews374 followers
February 5, 2020
A Selva Afegã

Certamente que os espíritos mais atentos já constataram, que sempre que nos propomos varrer das nossas vidas um certo prototipo de pessoa, tendemos a reencontrá-lo sob novas identidades.
É tipo um boomerang que volta, retorna e torna a voltar, parecendo-nos outro, quando afinal é apenas a cor que varia.
Qual será a explanação para tal fenómeno?
Karma? Castigo? Ironia do destino?
Ou será que que se trata daquele género que nos complementa, e logo irá perseguir-nos ad infinitum, se insistirmos em não proceder às devidas alterações?!
Por vezes, é de nós próprios que fugimos, e não dos outros!...

Bem!... Divagações aparte (é apanágio da boa literatura elevar-nos além da história narrada, e recomendo vivamente todo e qualquer livro capaz de produzir pensamentos num horizonte mais vasto, que não o da trama propriamente dita), esta é a história de Jane e dos seus leões.
A bela Jane, que só queria amar e ser amada, saiu das garras dum, para logo se envolver com outro ainda mais feroz.
Pobre Jane indefesa! Arrastaram-na selva adentro, e ainda lhe viraram a vida do avesso!...

Moral da história: quem se mete com leões, acaba na selva!!!

"O vale dos cinco leões" é um thriller histórico que nos remete para a topografia afegã. Por entre montanhas e vales, propõe-se mostrar-nos um pouco da guerra que por lá passou.
Como habitualmente, Ken Follet não desilude 😊😍👍
Profile Image for Supratim.
233 reviews450 followers
June 5, 2019
I was expecting to enjoy this book a lot more! After all, this novel has been written by Ken Follett – the author of my favorite The Eye of the Needle. Unfortunately, I found the book to be pretty mediocre.

Anyway, the story revolves around the love triangle involving Jane, a spirited English woman; Ellis, an American spy; and Jean-Pierre, a French doctor-cum-Communist spy. The narrative starts in Paris where Ellis would bust a terrorist cell, and then move to Soviet occupied Afghanistan. Jean-Pierre would be spying on behalf of the Russians and obviously Ellis would turn up to broker a deal with the Afghan resistance on behalf of Uncle Sam.

There is some action and suspense. But, the story is full of plot holes. A lot of things didn’t make sense and Jane’s behavior did not fit with her nature. The narrative dragged quite a few times and the end was pretty abrupt.

The book did not feel like it was by the author who had written quite a few engrossing war/espionage thrillers.

In my humble opinion, this book is not worth your time. There are plenty of good war/espionage thrillers out there. I would rather recommend Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle(features in Mystery Writers of America Top 100), The Key to Rebecca (Crime Writers' Association Top 100) and Jackdaws.

In case you are interested, you can check out the lists of top 100 mystery/thrillers by Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writer's Association (UK) here: link: link
Profile Image for Beatriz.
834 reviews719 followers
May 1, 2021
Para mí, leer a Follett siempre es una gozada. Al menos trato de leer dos libros suyos al año porque: a) adoro los libros de espionaje y este autor es lejos el mejor y; b) cada vez que leo una de sus novelas aprendo un montón y la lectura me deja mucho más que sólo una trepidante aventura.

Sí reconozco que El Valle de los Leones no alcanza el despliegue de personajes, locaciones y/o conflictos de otras de sus novelas, pero te mantiene pegado a sus páginas, sobre todo en la última parte, en que logra, con una maestría asombrosa, provocar un estado de angustia horrible con la huida de sus personajes principales, y uno como lector está ahí… rogando porque lo logren.

Entre los libros de Follett que he leído, es primera vez que las relaciones románticas de sus personajes tienen tanto peso en el argumento. Todo gira alrededor de este triángulo amoroso, compuesto de dos espías (de distintas agencias, por supuesto) y una joven idealista que una y otra vez es traicionada por alguno de estos agentes, a tal punto que no sabe qué creer o que es lo que realmente siente por cada uno de ellos.

Todo lo anterior, con el territorio, pueblo y conflicto afgano de la década de los ochenta como telón de fondo, que te apalea con su cultura machista y fanática.

Reto #41 PopSugar 2018: Un bestseller del año en que te graduaste de la secundaria
Profile Image for Mike.
1,138 reviews151 followers
March 6, 2012
Let’s take a trip back in time and visit the early 80’s with Lie Down With Lions, back when Brooke Shields let ‘nothing’ come between her and her Calvin Kleins (jeans) and “Who shot J.R.?” was on everyone’s mind. Included in the book you also get the era’s common refrain that the CIA was staffed by terrorists, every Vietnam Vet was a crazed ‘baby killer’, socialism/communism was believed to be ascendant and the brutal Soviet Afghan war was in full swing.

This story holds up surprisingly well after all these years. We have a French Doctor and his lovely English wife tending to the Afghan mujaheddin in the Panshir Valley, home of Ahmed Shah Masud. The main action takes place in 1982 and really heats up when a CIA agent, Ellis, shows up in the valley with a proposal for Masud. Ellis has a history with the good doctor and especially his wife. Things get interesting for all, especially when a very nasty Russian KGB colonel tries to stop an alliance from happening. There is a secret at the heart of the story that will prove deadly. The interplay between the Afghans, the Russians and the outside supporters feels realistic.

It has become fashionable to blame the US for supporting the mujaheddin against the Russians, thereby giving rise to the terror and chaos of the ‘90’s in Afghanistan and leading to the 9/11 attacks. "We should have seen it coming and not supported the Afghan rebels." But read this book and you will see what the prevailing sentiment was regarding the situation. What you will see is the Afghan people and warriors portrayed as heroic freedom fighters. Yes, cruel at times but only when driven by necessity. Mostly they are just like us, maybe poorer and a little more religious but basically good hearted folks. And the Russians, well they are the very caricature of evil here. And, you know what, that is exactly how I remember the sentiment at the time. Of course we would help the Afghans win their freedom. And poke a sharp stick in the Russian eye at the same time—a “twofer”.

Follett does an excellent job of portraying the desolation and hard life in this land. I felt at times he must have visited the valleys and mountain passes, they were well described. If you have a urge to see what the early ‘80’s were like, this book can give you a flavor. What I found fascinating was how far we have come. Since the time of this book the USSR was beaten in Afghanistan after 10 years, fell apart after leaving and now the US has been in Afghanistan for 10 years, soon to be leaving. Will history repeat?
Profile Image for Malin.
43 reviews8 followers
February 5, 2011
I bought this because it was the bestseller on NY TIMES list on the day I was born. I almost gave up right at the start because I didn't understand what the rest of the book would be about, but I braved on. I even come to enjoy it for a while, and thought that bestsellers might just be that because the authors are better than the rest.

I came to page 246 before I hurled it into the wall (well, tore the marker out of the book and pushed it away). I forgave the multiple introduction of characters and "weird" personality quirks (unless your readers have all lost their short term memory, they will remember a woman finding her baby suckling as an erotic act), unmoving characterization, the horrific 3 sex scenes all put together in one chapter - but at this moment he heaped another twist on the great spy battle. I can take twists but this "twist" is added to keep the story going - not because it's a part of the original plot. Granted, I can't get what the plot is supposed to be. It seems to lack a story arc.

Also, the woman main character is painted in a pathetic light and the Good Guy/Bad Guy are both quite uncharming, which made the story end up with absolutely no one I could feel for. With a bewildering plot and no redeeming characterization, I simply won't spend another 100 pages with this story. Despite the fact I remember I loved another Ken Follett book, I'm not likely to pick him up again.
Profile Image for Taste_in_Books.
133 reviews33 followers
March 26, 2023
My initiation to Ken Follett. I was 20 when I read it and was blown away. Still one of the best espionage adventures in my reading journey that I think about to this day.
Set in Afghanistan, a love triangle of spies, it's got adventure, intrigue, mystery, love and politics. Brilliant!!
Profile Image for Mihaela Abrudan.
249 reviews16 followers
February 26, 2023
Un alt conflict inutil și sângeroas al secolului XX a fost războiul din Afganistan. Dincolo de conflictul armat a existat, ca în oricare război, o confruntare a serviciilor de spionaj americane și ruse. Finalul mi s-a parut un pic forțat, dar e interesant că acțiunea se desfășoară într-un alt context decât cel obișnuit.
Profile Image for Robert Michael.
Author 21 books22 followers
February 6, 2013
Ugh. Contrived. Hackneyed. More plot holes than a television drama. More pseudo-feminist rhetoric than Anne Rice. The only character we can care about is Ellis, really named John, who in the end is a shallow character--he only cares about Jane. Much of the rest of the story feels like a story told third-hand, with third-hand details. As many as five times he describes the Hind (Russian helicopter) as looking like a bug. Ok. We get it.

Having read the detailed military specifications and action of Tom Clancy as well as the complex characters and riveting action of Stephen Hunter, I found this read severely dry. Peppering it with long explicit sex scenes and thrice mentioning the erotic pleasure Jane derives from breast feeding did nothing to improve the story. In point of fact, it actually sinks it lower into the dregs of my "Have Read, but Wished I Did Not Bother" list.

Over and over we are exposed to the irony of a love interest (a triangle of course--Follett falls back on his award winning formula), Jane, who while supposedly capable, opinionated, strong-willed, and a devout feminist, fails to uphold most of those qualities. It isn't just that she is tested and tried, it is that we are told one thing and she does another. Slapped by her husband, she succumbs to his blathering apology. Most self-respecting feminists would have walked out.

Of course, she doesn't and the next day Ellis, her former boyfriend and protagonist, shows up out of the blue. It is remarkable how he comes to be there, it seems. However, the bigger plot hole is why Jane and her husband Jean-Pierre are there.

In addition, the author leaves too many threads hanging. Anotaly, the Russian KGB contact, for one. One moment he is in the helicopter and the next, Jane and Ellis are in New York. What? What just happened? Of course, in the end someone falls to their death (he does that a LOT--see my review for CODE TO ZERO), but we do not know what happens to Anotaly. And why did he not take Chantal? What was that about? The chapter where Jane and Ellis (John) are on the cliff overlooking the raid on the village complete stumped me. If the baby was there and the villagers would not tell them where the Americans were, why could Anotaly not assume they were nearby and then post some sentries to await their return? Ugh.

I have read EYE OF THE NEEDLE and THE MAN FROM ST. PETERSBURG. Both were fair novels, not Le Carre at his best or even as good as Robert Ludlum, but they are fair representatives of this sort of novel. If this is the Follett you are used to, do not read this book. He takes the sex too far this time, he pushes the boundaries of common sense, and the reader is left with the feeling of being cheated. Too often we go down a long, windy path only to find that the journey was worthless.

In the end, I think this was a rotten book, unworthy to read, yet I finished it.
Profile Image for Carla.
542 reviews80 followers
August 6, 2011
Existem 5 livros dos quais a minha mãe de que não se cansa de falar: O Perfume, As Mulheres da Casa do Tigre, As Brumas de Avalon, O Clã do Urso das Cavernas e este. Li e adorei os dois primeiros, o terceiro tentei ler sem sucesso, os dois últimos ainda não tinha lido mas as expectativas eram altas. Ainda não sei quanto ao livro da Auel, mas este foi de encontro ao que esperava.

A escrita de Ken Follett não será a oitava maravilha do mundo, mas gosto e acho credível o retrato que ele faz da sociedade, seja ela medieval ou afegã. Posto isto, está claro que gostei deste livro, não tanto como de Os Pilares da Terra mas o suficiente para já me confessar fã do autor e querer continuar a ler os seus livros.

Neste em particular temos um triângulo amoroso. Apesar de o final ser previsível, não deixa de ser interessante seguir Jane e o seu processo de descoberta, sobretudo tendo em conta as condições difíceis em que se encontra, em plena invasão soviética do Afeganistão e com uma recém-nascida a seu cargo. Felizmente as personagens neste livro não são de extremos, como acontecia n'Os Pilares, sendo que ambos os love interests têm pontos positivos e negativos. Um tem mais pontos bons e o outro tem mais pontos maus é certo, mas o próprio leitor não consegue deixar de pesar os prós e contras de ambos, tal como Jane faz.
Profile Image for L.A Margarita .
27 reviews19 followers
December 5, 2020
Until 40% of the book, I just wanted to be done with it. The only reason I didn't stop reading it was because I wanted to read at least one of Follett's book. I am very glad I did continue to read despite the beginning because the rest was worth it.

At the beginning I hated that the main female character seemed in love and ready to forgive anything from her toxic husband. Their relationship was extremely frustrating to me. The only thing that made her almost likeable was that she was a feminist. And I just wasn't into the story. 

Then I reached 40% of the book and I started to like both the characters and the story. The twists were interesting to follow. The story was original and the characters were multidimensional with complex personalities which made them more human and more realistic. The romance was perfect: cute, authentic but not too cheesy. 
On the background of the story we can feel that Follett's knows what he is talking about but he doesn't get too much into details so everything is understandable no matter how much we know on the topic he writes about.
Profile Image for Fran Barrero.
Author 39 books84 followers
April 5, 2020
El más flojo de Follet con diferencia, al menos de los que he leído hasta ahora. Se hace tedioso hasta límites sorprendentes, el ritmo es lento y el personaje de Jane (que actúa como hilo conductor de la historia y enlace entre los dos espías) tiene unos cambios bruscos de personalidad que no son lógicos.
El final (unas cien o más páginas) es una huida interminable y aburrida, sin más, por no hablar del desenlace: absurdo y forzado.
No le pongo menos estrellas porque Follet narra bien.

No lo recomiendo, tienes otras muchas historias de espionaje del autor mucho mejores (mi favorita sigue siendo «La clave está en Rebeca»)
Profile Image for Nadia.
Author 14 books3,334 followers
February 27, 2021
This book (written in the 80s) was clearly not intended to be read by Afghans or other persons of color. His descriptions of things "all Afghans" wore or did made me yawn and his portrayal of Jane made me cringe. This is a formulaic spy novel with awkward sex scenes set in Afghanistan.

There was a real shortage of books on Afghanistan in the 80s. That's been rectified. Skip this and read #ownvoices.
Profile Image for Dana Ilie.
404 reviews353 followers
January 14, 2022
Typical Follett in that the plot is well written, characters are described beautifully and you find yourself entranced by the entire tale. I found it difficult to put down. Absorbing and definitely placing the reader in a space where I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen. The kind of intrigue you don't want to finish.
Profile Image for Angela.
86 reviews11 followers
February 9, 2008
This is a real page-turner. I read it in hardcover with over 300 pages and it took me less than a week which is much quicker than usual for me. It is a great read for those that like historical novels placed in the middle east. However, this is much more story than historical information.
There were two explicit scenes that could have been left out and did not add to the story which is why I didn't give it a five star rating.
Profile Image for r.
129 reviews74 followers
August 19, 2015
داستانی عالی وجذاب .رمانی با شخصیت های ساخته شده که به بهترین نحو پرداخت شده اند .فالت با چیره دستی توانست مکان های متفاوتی را در داستان ترسیم کند واز دل این تفاوت ها داستان فوق العاده هیجان انگیزی را به وجود اورد .داستانی که از دل اروپای مدرن به بدوی ترین مکان ممکن یعنی افغانستان درگیر با جنگ کمونیست کشیده میشود وزنی با اراده که در مواجه با موقعیت های سخت راه حل های مخصوص به خودش را پیدا میکند .در کنار شیرهااستعاره ای به مکان وقوع حوادث داستان که همان دره پنج شیرافغانستان است دره پنج شیر محل تولد دلاور شهید افغانستان احمد شاه مسعود است که فالت به خوبی توانسته با این دستمایه داستان خواندنی را بیافریند
Profile Image for Xabi1990.
1,991 reviews897 followers
August 17, 2020
6/10 en 2010.

Follett es muy bueno. Este libro, no. No perdáis el tiempo, leed otro.
Profile Image for Nicolás Briozzo.
378 reviews30 followers
March 12, 2022
Esta novela es una de las menos conocidas de Follett, de su primera época, antes de conocer el éxito más masivo con el género de novela histórica.
Antes de que existiera un monstruo superventas como "Los Pilares de la Tierra", el autor escribía lo que podría considerarse novelas de espionaje.
En este caso en particular, el escenario es el desierto de Afganistán, donde una joven en misión humanitaria quedará atrapada en la guerra entre afganos y los invasores rusos. Una trama que el autor escribió hace casi 30 años y sin embargo se siente muy actual en este 2022 con la invasión a Ucrania.
En medio de los estragos de la guerra, la protagonista verá disputado su amor entre dos hombres que, en una demostración de estirar el verosímil hasta lo indecible, resultan ser sendos espías de cada bando enfrentado.
Por mi parte, disfruté sobre todo de las descripciones que se hace de la geografía del lugar y las pinceladas que se muestran de la cultura e idiosincrasia de dicho país, que demuestran cierto trabajo de investigación por parte del escritor.
Sin embargo, la melosidad del romance, la descripción de las relaciones sexuales y los diálogos edulcorados la ponen al nivel de las básicas novelas rosas "para señoras".
Profile Image for Angela.
524 reviews30 followers
April 7, 2019
"In the Afghan mountains lies the Valley of Five Lions, a place of ancient legend. To it come two young aid workers and an American who has a message for the legendary guerrilla leader, Masud, who is wanted dead or alive by the Russians. Below, in the valley, a woman stumbles upon a terrifying treachery, leading to a chase across impassable mountains and a confrontation that echoes all our nightmares."
6 reviews
May 1, 2021
Suspenseful? Yes.
But the characterization? That was unrelentingly terrible.
Profile Image for John Stevens.
53 reviews6 followers
January 6, 2014
I always enjoy Follett. He's got the skill, style and tools that any novelist must have in their quiver to keep the reader engaged and coming back for book after book.
This is a good story. With the characters engaged in the, true to life, Afghanistan war it's easy to accept presumptions without having to read the back-story as well as the humanity and psychology of the main characters and the tribal citizens living in a world that is more foreign to the reader than most would acknowledge.
Follett utilizes the modern media along with the many perspectives of the modern global citizenry to help build the psychological basis from which any reader can empathize with each of the characters from his or her current opinions of this war torn region and the people who are in constant conflict with one another as well as taking sides and fighting with or against the invader if the day.
Some readers brush off what seems to be a simple over told story as merely a vehicle for gratuitous, and unusual, sex scenes and stereotypical story lines instead of picking up on the readily observable struggles of each major character, as well as the minor characters who are local tribal members and leaders.
I will agree that of the several Follett novels I've read this one may very well be my least favorite. I've got to think about that a bit more. Was the author's intention to bring me deeper into the conflict, beyond where the highly editorialized and politically biased media reporting had left me, or, perhaps, was it to personalize it for me?
The story line may very well be based on a true story or melding of more that one. I felt like I was able to quickly climb on to the camel and begin debating with the perspectives and morals of three main characters who are very different from one another and come from very different vocations and moralities. Their justifications are simple. The raw sexual relationships, written with many more descriptive observations than I've seen Follett present previously, were, at first, more of a surprise than anything. There were just a couple. With a little thought, upon the encounter, I felt it was appropriate to toss the reader for a loop and bring him back to reality when ones perspective and life decisions are reduced, for the average person, from being thoughtful and more thorough to spontaneous human grasps at fulfilling their often and radically shifting immediate situations between reaching for their moral purpose to sheer survival.
I think I may have put too much into this but I do believe it was Follett's intention to take us into a familiar spy-drama-thriller to the reality of being thrust into a war zone that has been at war from within and without for thousands of years. Once there, the varied opinions about the war are open for discussion but rapidly lain aside when mere survival or suddenly discovering that people and purposes you trusted your life to, have either collapsed entirely or have been tossed into a twister as the characters struggle to grasp upon the slightest reality or hope therein.
Yeah. It's a simple book. I know Follett's skills and have been thrilled as he took me from his spy thrillers to mid evil castles, kingdoms and religious manipulation to the surprisingly and capturing soap opera of Dangerous Fortune.
Ken Follett is an outstanding author who utilizes all of the techniques of excellent telling of tales. However, he does not bind himself to one style or template that most authors do. He takes you on his journey. Often places you may have been before.
Let go and enjoy the ride. Often times, with Ken Follett, you will find yourself with a smile as you turn the last page and reach for his next one.
Profile Image for Donna Crupi.
Author 8 books13 followers
January 6, 2013
My first Ken Follett novel. Wow! I think I was in high school on vacation with friends. I had no idea the power of a great story. Of the impact it could have on me. Of the connection I could feel to struggles of the characters and my desire to be one of those characters!

In hindsight, I don't want to know if this was a great book or not. I want to remember the man and woman struggling to cross the mountains in Afghanistan to get to freedom. I want to remember the passion I had never, never known of before. I want to remember how I felt turning the pages with the danger and sexual desire of the couple as they moved onward.

If you've read Follett, you know what he can do with characters and a story and an amazing backdrop. This book taught me.

I highly recommend!!
Profile Image for Sheila.
140 reviews2 followers
February 18, 2013
Great action and twists and turns. Early Follett book that describes the military support the Americans gave the rebels (aka Osama) to defeat the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Knowing how the future unfolded in light of this support made the book that much more interesting.
Profile Image for Peter Jowers.
182 reviews6 followers
December 23, 2014
I think it is worth reading as it was well researched for the background of the Russian involvement in Afghanistan, bearing in mind written long before recent events. There is a bibliography in the book for guidance to more in depth reading aboit Afghanistan.
Profile Image for Jefi Sevilay.
612 reviews59 followers
May 8, 2023
"The definition of dull writing" - Jefi Sevilay

Madem herkes kitabın arkasına methiyeler düzüyor ben de gerçeği yazayım. Yüzyıl Üçlemesi'nin ikinci kitabı olan Dünyayı Saran Kış'ı okuduktan sonra üçüncü kitap Türkçe'ye çevrilmediği için Nadir Kitap'ta aradım. "One thing led to another" ve kendimi 4-5 tane eski Ken Follett kitabı alırken buldum.

Açıkçası bu yabancı mid-size kitaplar eğer hikaye akıcıysa harika, değilse "pain in the ass". Bu kitabı çok daha beğenirim ve keyif alırım umuduyla okudum ancak umduğumu hiç bulamadım. Anlamsız bir aşk üçgeni, beklenmeyecek derece sıkıcı casusluk, tatsız aksiyon.

Neyse, zaten bu 1985 tarihli kitabı benden başka kimse okumayacağı için sorun yok :)

Herkese keyifli okumalar!
Profile Image for Inês Montenegro.
Author 47 books125 followers
April 21, 2018
Um romance average que entretém, dentro do género da espionagem. As personagens também não foram além do average, e houve uma panca qualquer com a mulher a amamentar, que não só era referindo com frequência, como era sexualizado a maior parte das vezes, ao ponto de se tornar incomodativo.
Profile Image for Huw Rhys.
508 reviews14 followers
September 24, 2013
Ken Follett can write great books. We all knew that. What I didn't know before reading this one was that he's capable of writing atrocious books as well.

It's hard to describe this book - it's really difficult to tell whether it's meant to be a love story, a thriller, a travelogue of the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan or just a pretty sordid soft porn book. I'm not sure the author quite knew what he was trying to write either, as he seems to pick up some sort of enthusiasm for a topic, before abandoning it in search of another purpose for his book.

It's a triangular love affair set in the hills and valleys of Afghanistan during the Russian occupation of the 1980's. The main protagonists - and the supporting cast - are all pretty unmemorable. Already the names fade into one, mere hours after finishing reading. The plot makes some ridicuolus jumps, and some completely illogical or unfeasible connections - such as the way that one of the characters essentially finishes her marrriage after seeing her husband for a few fleeting seconds in a hut with a foreign sounding man. With no other evidence at all to go on, she deduces from this that her husband just has to be a Russian spy, and she also deduces (100% correctly as it amazingly turns out) his complete back story from this briefest of observations. A natural assumption for any of us to make, of course... so encouraged is the author by this that he uses similarly gossamer thin events as vehicles for major plot shifts throughout the piece.

Some of the sex scenes are verging on laughable if they weren't so stomach churning, many of the character traits are thrown in as an afterthought to semi justify a strange action and whilst some parts of the plot go on and on interminably with no subsequent reason, other major parts are skipped over with barely any exposition at all.

I know I could carry on criticizing this dreadful book for a lot longer, but frankly, it doesn't deserve the attention. A truly depressing reading experience - not Ken Follett's finest moment.
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Author 5 books168 followers
October 2, 2021
Well this was actually terrible.

I probably should have stopped reading this around the 30% mark, when I first got a hunch. Unfortunately, I have a tendency to want to see things through, and I really had my hopes out for Follett because the person who gave me this book also gave me a copy of Pillars Of The Earth, which I’m looking forward to.

Lie Down With Lions is a classic spy thriller, set during the Soviet-Afghan war in Afghanistan. It centers around Ellis, an American; Jean-Pierre, a Frenchman; and the girl they both love, Jane.

And it’s terrible.

The writing isn’t great. Right from the start, I was thrown off by the incredibly (sometimes annoyingly) detailed actions of characters. “He went toward the door. He grabbed the handle. He pushed it down. He opened the door.” What?? At times it became pretty ridiculous.

The only thing that saves this book, is the thrilling spy stuff itself, and “saves” is a strong word. Afghanistan and the war seems to be well researched and described (as far as I know, and that’s not much, to be fair) and it was what kept me reading this book till the end – even though at times you had long dialogues between characters who were both in the know, obviously designed to do nothing but make sure the reader was kept in the loop.

What really breaks this book is the so-called romance. It’s horrible. Honestly, this book makes me think of the “men writing women” Twitter account. This has some of the weirdest sex scenes I’ve ever read, and Follett seems overly obsessed with breast-feeding and lactation. And the worst part is, the romance is one of the things that’s supposed to drive the whole plot.

Can I recommend this book? Yes, but only if you want to read terrible romance. Otherwise, find something else to read. Me, I’m going to cross my fingers and hope Pillars of The Earth is better.
26 reviews
November 4, 2012
The book was long for no reason, seriously needed to be condensed.

The author spends pages and pages on details that are unnecessary and can often start you wondering, "Why am I still reading this?".

In contrast, the ending was wrapped up very quickly as if the author had many more chapters to go and the editor/publisher said "FINISH IT!". The sequence of events leaves the reader shaking his head as it is so out of line with the other events and uncharacteristic of the behaviors of the characters in the book.

Some things are tied up a little too neatly in the aftermath chapter, and some left completely unsaid, which could be a good thing if the author picks that up in another book. Sadly, I don't think I will find out as I will struggle to pick up another by this author. I have read his best sellers, and I am apparently not the audience that this product, and it is a product versus a story or a book, is marketed toward.
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