Ken Follett

The Best Reading Order for Ken Follett Books

Last Updated on September 16, 2020

Wired For Youth is supported by readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This does not affect who we choose to review or what we recommend. Learn more

Are you excited to delve into the world of fiction? Get yourself the best books of espionage and history with this best reading order for the books of the Welsh best-selling author, Ken Follett. The reading order begins with his spy thrillers, Apples Carstairs Series and Piers Roper Series. Next are his classics, The Kingsbridge Series and The Century Trilogy, which show Follett’s swerve to the history side. Last on the list is his standalone novels composed of 21 books. Experience the best of Ken Follett’s world with his crafts. 

Apples Carstairs Series

This early series by Ken Follett is initially issued as written by Simon Myles and later republished under Follett’s real name. The mystery-thriller Big series follows Apples Carstairs and his adventures of sex and violence taking place in the regions of London, Marseilles, Brussels, and New York. The Big Needle takes on Apples’ encounter against Mr. Big H, a multi-million drug pusher. It is then succeeded by The Big Black, filled with the mysteries of Apples’ obscene photograph with his lovers and a blackmail threat and facing the powerful Joshua Hind. The series is capped with The Big Hit, which follows the mysterious death of Apples Carstairs celebrated musician friend, Winston Divine and the bad side of the music industry. 

1. The Big Needle – 1974

2. The Big Black – 1974

3. The Big Hit – 1975 

Piers Roper Series

Ken Follet’s second spy series follows the industrial espionage of Piers Roper, as well as his romantic relationships within the series. The Shakeout is about Roper’s infiltration to a rival spy network for his boss, only known as Palmer. The building conflict and problematic politics of his work are further complicated by a gorgeous and smart woman named Ann, whom the main protagonist falls for. The sequel, The Bear Raid, takes Piers Roper to Wall Street for a raid. Roper uncovers a Mafia incident, resulting in his framing for murder and the betrayal by Louise. Clayton, a young executive, almost conquers Roper using a secret state deal, but the dynamic super-spy always emerges victorious.  

1. The Shakeout – 1975

2. The Bear Raid – 1976

The Kingsbridge Series

The Kingsbridge Series is a four-book series covering from the late 10th century to the mid-16th century. This series is Follett’s first non-spy thriller, contrasting his literature genre. The series starts with The Pillars of the Earth, which is about the construction of a cathedral in the fictional Kingsbridge while focusing on the civil war between England and Normandy from 1135 to 1153. It is succeeded by World Without End, taking place 157 years later and intertwining the historical Edwardian War and the Black Death. Third in the series is A Column of Fire, featuring the romantic relationship of Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald while exposing the dethronement and assassination plots against the Queen of England. Lastly, The Evening and the Morning is a prequel to the first book of the series, taking place in 997 CE. It explores the origin of the legal system during the attack of Vikings and Normans to England.

1. The Pillars of the Earth – 1989 

2. World Without End – 2007

3. A Column of Fire – 2017

4. The Evening and the Morning – 2020

The Century Trilogy

The Century Trilogy follows the story of five families: American, English, Welsh, German, and Russian during the 20th century. The first book, Fall of the Giants, shows their encounters during the events of World War I, the Russian Revolt, and the plight of women’s suffrage. The theme of the book revolves around the classist system of the society and the clash of the common people versus the aristocracy. It is followed by the Winter of the World, wherein the second generation of the featured families experience turmoil during the Nazi regime, World War II, and the early phase of the Cold War. It further explores homosexual and interracial romances and sexual liberation. Finally, Edge of Eternity takes the third generation of the families through the peak of the Cold War. It also features significant world events during that time, such as the Watergate Scandal and the Civil Rights Movement. 

1. Fall of Giants – 2010

2. Winter of the World – 2012

3. Edge of Eternity – 2014 

Standalone Novels

Ken Follett has used pseudonyms such as Bernard L. Ross, Zachary Stone, Martin Martinsen, and Storm Island. He is the recipient of the 1979 Edgar Award for Best Novel for his Eye of the Needle, which was an international bestseller and launched his career as a famous novelist. Meanwhile, Capricorn One is his novelization of the 1978 film of the same name. These novels also follow his contemporary suspense, spy thriller, and historical fiction genres. These constantly feature significant events with a twist from Follett’s imagination. 

1. Amok: King of Legend – 1976

2. The Modigliani Scandal – 1976

3. The Mystery Hideout – 1976

4. The Power Twins – 1976

5. Paper Money – 1977

6. Capricorn One – 1978

7. Eye of the Needle – 1978

8. Triple – 1979

9. The Key to Rebecca – 1980

10. The Man from St. Petersburg – 1982

11. On Wings of Eagles – 1983

12. Lie Down with Lions – 1985

13. Night Over Water – 1991

14. A Dangerous Fortune – 1993

15. A Place Called Freedom – 1995

16. The Third Twin – 1996

17. The Hammer of Eden – 1998

18. Code to Zero – 2000

19. Jackdaws – 2001

20. Hornet Flight – 2002

21. Whiteout – 2004

Ken Follet is a best-selling novelist based in the United Kingdom. He is a philosophy graduate of the University College London. He first dwelled in journalism and publishing before pursuing writing. As seen from his books, he has a natural flair for spy thriller and historical fiction genres. Follett is a versatile author who changes his writing genre for the sake of surprising his audiences. For his contributions to literature, he is appointed as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2018. Further information about Follett’s life and books can be found on his website, https://ken-follett.com/

Recommended Posts:

Book summaries, notes, interviews, and more!

Get Bite-sized Lessons straight to your inbox

No spam, all value — we deliver the best bite-sized tips right to your inbox.