Based on Nazi occupied Denmark in 1941, the rebellion of a group of freedom fighters, the Nightwatchmen, takes them on some harrowing escapades that keep you on edge. Follett tends to go into great detail about the subjects in his books, which makes me want to jump ahead to the exciting parts, but that's what makes him a great writer. He makes you feel as if you are there.
"Have you ever dug into the pockets of an old coat and found a wadded five dollar bill? Imagine the secret delight, the sense of discovery, the feeling of regaining something you'd totally forgotten about.
"Hornet Flight" is that sort of delight. I was an early Follett fan, devouring "The Eye of the Needle," "The Key to Rebecca," and "The Man from St. Petersburg." His strengths--his characters, his detailed research, his pacing--kept me coming back for more. Then, as Follett branched into other areas of fiction, my interest wavered.
The WWII theme of this latest book brought me back, and I discovered that forgotten "five dollar bill." The story revolves around young Harald Olafsun, a Danish man faced with the occupation of the Nazis and the bland apathy of many of his countrymen. When he realizes that the Nazis have a new technology that gives them the edge in air-battles, when he finds himself entangled in a budding resistance movement, he uncovers his own courage and the surprising resilence of his fellow people...and the treachery of some of her trusted authorities. Soon, Harald and an attractive Danish upperclass girl come to the realization that they alone have the ability to get invaluable info to the British by way of a dangerous flight in a dilapidated Hornet Moth.
"Hornet Flight" is not the most valuable thriller I've ever found, not the slickest or most modern, but it's a nice surprise all the same. Follett's old skills are evident--characters we can believe, well-balanced pacing, and the details to make wartime Denmark seem touchable. I'm sure glad I dug into these old pockets. You just never know what you might find."
- Eric Wilson
Britain is in trouble in this WWII novel because the Germans somehow know their flight patterns and bombers are being shot down. A young 18 year old stumbles upon the secret and it's up to him to deliver the information. All he has at his disposal is an old Hornet Moth biplane. This story of espionage will keep you at the edge of your seat and of course, there's a love angle.
This is one of my favorite Follett books. Fun but thrilling, based on a true story. Not too closely based, but that makes it even better. I'm not usually a big WWII fiction fan but this one is worth reading.
Ken himself says of it:
"I came across an extraordinary story about two Danes who wanted to escape from German-occupied Denmark in 1941. They wanted to get to England, but of course would have to cross the Channel. They decided to do this in a dilapidated Hornet Moth a small fabric-and-wood biplane. So they fixed it up, stole parts and petrol for it, and eventually took off and flew across the Channel, which was a very hazardous journey in such a small plane.. Needless to say, several RAF fighters were scrambled to investigate, but the young men hung a white towel out of the window, and managed to land safely in a field."
It is June 1941 and the war is not going well for England. The Germans are anticipating RAF flight paths and shooting them down.Eighteen-year-old Harald Olufsen takes a shortcut on a Danish island occupied by the Germans and discovers something he doesn't understand, but knows he must tell someone and soon discovers that he must make his way to England, on his own, to let the RAF know of his discovery.
First Ken Follett book I have found disappointing. Interesting premise, Follett's usual great writing, but ruined by a totally unbelievable sequence toward the end when the heroes delay saving the world to go to a ballet. If was as if Follett finished the book too quickly and needed a couple more chapters so he came up with this bit of foolishness. I'll continue to read Follett, but I sure hope they will show more reasonable plotting than this one.
I would have rated it higher except I did not appreciate some of the language. I really did not like the explicite sex scenes. I do not know why a good writer has to through this in. Taking out about three pages would have fixed this. I have been told that this author's other books have a lot more of this. So I will not be reading any more of his books.