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Lie Down with Lions

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  16,837 ratings  ·  692 reviews
Ellis, the American. Jean-Pierre, the Frenchman. They were two men on opposite sides of the cold war, with a woman torn between them. Together, they formed a triangle of passion and deception, racing from terrorist bombs in Paris to the violence and intrigue of Afghanistan - to the moment of truth and deadly decision for all of them...
Paperback, 332 pages
Published December 2nd 2003 by NAL (first published January 1st 1986)
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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 ·  16,837 ratings  ·  692 reviews

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May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure, thriller
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-Pi
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 afte
Feb 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-finished
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
L.A Margarita
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
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.
Robert Michael
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
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 o
Feb 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Glen Krisch
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
Apr 07, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
"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." ...more
John Stevens
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Peter Jowers
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Huw Rhys
Sep 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
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 a
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 character
Donna Crupi
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
One of my all time favorite books. I have always liked Ken Follet's vivid style of writing. This is an exciting spy thriller. I know it's very "cliche" but it is a page turner that is really hard to put down especially the ending. ...more
Apr 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was sadly, very disappointed with this one. If I'm being honest, I was kind of pissed off by it. I didn't buy the character of Jane, for a minute. She really turned me off of the story and angered me throughout, which ruined the whole book for me. ...more
Feb 26, 2021 added it
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.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
I feel like a hypocrite. I mean really, why do I keep reading Ken Follett (and for that matter Stephen King) and then giving the books a 2 star rating? I know the book is shitty; I know this before I read it; yet I still pick it up and devour it in 2 days. The best excuse I can muster is that it makes me ponder the purpose of literature. Is it to hold up a mirror in which we can see ourselves reflected (great quote by James Fennimore Cooper on that, by the way that was the epigraph for Monsters ...more
May 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read this book years and years ago--at least 20--but its dramatic effect on me still lingers after all this time. I want to re-read it, as I do so many of the books I have read (and since forgotten the details of) in the past. I find myself looking for it in every bookstore I visit, only to be disappointed that I cannot find a larger-sized paperback copy or a hardback copy of this book. I want to buy it and keep it and remind myself to re-read it, but I don't keep or collect trade paperbacks. ...more
Perhaps not the greatest book, but it was the first I ever learned of Ahmad Shah Masood, the legendary mujaheddin commander known as the "Lion of Panjshir," and generally considered the all-around "best hope for the future of Afghanistan" - right up until he Osama bin Laden blew him up on Sept 9, 2001 as part of the whole 9/11 attack.*

Interestingly, this was published just two years before "Rambo III" came out; back when supplying stingers to the proto-Taliban still seemed like a good idea, whe
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just finished listening to this book; second time through for me, as I read it years ago. Still a gripping tale and one that I enjoyed.

I first read the book a long time ago, about 1986, and I really enjoyed the earlier Follett books and this one was perhaps my favorite. This was perhaps the first novel I read that treated breastfeeding as the expected norm - and added some normal sensuality to it. Plus, the book is based in least somewhat.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it liked it
As a fiction novel, I don't know how much stock to hold in the cultural implications of the book, but it was a thrilling read. I was taken aback a bit by the graphic details given in the sexual encounters but I guess that is to be expected in books like this. Great character development and it kept me on the edge of my seat. I'd read another book by this author, but I wouldn't call it a fav. ...more
Lucie "a heart so wild"
my 1st Ken Follet..
When I started I don't know that this is a adventure-romance genre...
but once started I can't put down this book...
the story is soo dramatic, full of intrigue, facts & adventure...
Fiuhh!! what an experience to read this wonderful triangle love-story...
the love-scene are steamy-hot...

especially this is set in Afganishtan...
The land of desperation...

Bravo Ken Follet!!
Oct 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book.
I finished it in two days (not on a weekend :) )
Ken Follett does such a great job writing Historical Fiction/Suspense. I loved that it takes place during the cold war in Afghanistan. A very unique twist.
David Jarrett
For someone considered a master at his trade, Follett did not do so well with this book. None of the characters were likeable, the plot was weak, and I was glad when I reached the underwhelming conclusion.
Follett is one of my favorite authors. This is one of his earlier works and I can see an evolution in style. Lie Down with Lions is a well written fast paced story. That when compared to his more recent work is not quite as smoothly put together. Lions like many spy adventures does get from the beginning to the end with some questionable James Bond type of heroics. But that’s one of the features I like best in this type of book. The finial escape is a little predictable when you allow yourself t ...more
Victor Brand
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Either by design or accident I currently seem to be attracted to book based in Afghanistan and this is another. Beginning with betrayals in student Paris it soon progresses to the wilds of Afghanistan with the guerrilas fighting the Russians. An author I am fond of who never writes a bad book. Thoroughly enjoyed this story.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another exciting page-turner from Follett. I took one point off due to the brutality. I didn't know who would survive up to the last chapter. Wonderful spy thriller. ...more
Steve Shilstone
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Russia has a turn at the Afghanistan quagmire in the 1980s. Opposing spies and the hardy woman they both fancy dance life's quadrille. ...more
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another winner from ken follett, a great weaver of tales. The place is Afghanistan and it’s us vs Ruskis with lots of secrets and espionage and love of course.
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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 t

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“She could have had an affair with him. He was a devout Muslim, as were all the guerrillas, but she doubted whether that would have made any difference. She believed what her father had used to say: "Religious conviction may thwart a timid desire but nothing can stand against genuine lust.” 1 likes
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