Review: Ken Follett’s book “Hornet Flight”


hornet-flight“All my life I have got tremendous pleasure out of good story telling, good yarns that have taken me to a place I have never been and shown me life styles and periods that I have never known. When I started writing fiction, my impulse was to give the same pleasure to others that I had enjoyed myself.”

Ken Follett (

Book after book, Ken Follett has given pleasure to others through his words. I have several favorite authors – William Faulkner, P.D. James, and James Michener – and now I have added another — Ken Follett.

The Hornet Flight is my sixth book written by Ken Follett that I have read. It is also the shortest book I have read of his – only 420 pages.  He has written, to date, 24 books. That means I have 18 more books to read; well, until he writes another.

As writers, we are always looking for the next story. Those tidbits often come from observing things around us like a good book, a story in the newspaper, watching TV, people watching, etc.

Ken Follett read a story about two young men who were living in Denmark during the occupation of the German army in World War II. The real-life story is of two young men who wanted to escape Denmark in 1941. The men wanted to go to England, but first they would have to cross “the Channel.”

The Channel is a body of water between England and Denmark. They could find a boat to cross, or swim across, or a miracle could happen. And a miracle did happen.

The two young men found an old, dilapidated Hornet Moth – a small, fabric and wood biplane. By stealing parts and gasoline, they fixed the biplane and hornet-mothflew it across the Channel to England. As they flew into the English air space, RAF Fighters (Royal Air Force) checked them out. One of the men put a white towel out the window; then they landed safety in a field in England.

Follett was so fascinated by this story that he fashioned Hornet Flight from bits and pieces of this adventure.

The Hornet Flight begins in the early days of World War II. It’s 1941 and the war is not going well for England. Late one night as the rain comes down, eighteen year old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut through the fenced area of a German installation that he had never seen before. What was this place? Why was it here?

He passed through a stand of conifers and went down into a dip. As he came to the bottom of the declivity, he saw a structure of some kind looming up in the murk. He could not make it out clearly, but he did not recall anything being built in this location. Coming closer, he saw a curved concrete wall about as high as his head. Above the wall something moved, and he heard a low hum, like an electric motor ….

Harald was fascinated. It was a machine of a kind he had never seen before, and the engineer in him was spellbound. What did it do? Why did it revolve? The sound told him little — that was just the motor that turned the thing. He felt sure it was not a gun, at least not the conventional kind, for there was no barrel. His best guess was that it was something to do with radio.    pg. 23

England was preparing for its largest aerial assault ever, and what Harald discovered may turn the course of the war around.

If you have not read any of Ken Follett’s books, I highly recommend them. They are long and detailed. Follett writes in a way that you think you are watching a movie and you don’t want it to end. Rich characters, romance, and sit at the edge of your seat action. Out of 1 to 5 rating, 5 being the highest, I definitely give Hornet Flight a 5!

Follett, Ken, Hornet Flight, published by Penguin Group, New York, 2002, 420 pages.

Today do something that will challenge you!