Book Review: Lie Down With Lions by Ken Follett

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.

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