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A Dangerous Fortune

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  35,327 ratings  ·  1,720 reviews
A breathtaking thriller featuring “political and amorous intrigues, cold-blooded murder, and financial crises” (San Francisco Chronicle), from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Column of Fire

In 1866, tragedy strikes the exclusive Windfield School when a young student drowns in a mysterious accident. His death and its aftermath initiate a spiraling circle of tre
Published June 10th 2004 by Brilliance Audio (first published September 24th 1993)
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Susan Stewart There is no short summary. This is a complex tale of a large family and how their lives intersect in the world of banking in the late 19th century.

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Dana Ilie
Nov 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love a female villain, and this one is so machiavelic, so devious, so smart and cold...

"A Dangerous Fortune," which is one of Follett's earlier books, takes place in the mid-1800's in England. A tragedy takes place at a boarding school when a student mysteriously drowns. This is the beginning of years of treachery that impacts the lives of so many people. There's greed, lust, and murder...what could be better? This is an old fashion family saga that grabs you from the very beginning and keeps
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, this book is somewhat predictable and serves less as a mystery novel and more as a historical drama/romance, but I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the novel simply as it was. It may also be a bit too familiar to Follett followers as the model of storytelling remains consistent with his typical writing techniques, but it also displays Follett's tremendous ability to set a mood and create an atmosphere that makes almost all his books so hard to put down. The historical detail makes A Dange ...more
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Things you can count on in a Follett book:

A strong male protagonist who everyone else is determined to make fail.

A strong female protagonist who acts in ways women of their time period just do not act, and doesn't give a damn about what others think of her.

One of the above parties either rises from their low station or falls from their high station.

A nasty villain who does nothing, but bad and surrounds himself with powerful people who he manipulates to get what he wants and to cover his bad d
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would read Follett just for his intriguing dialogue.
Review of the audiobook narrated by Michael Page.

This is my fourth book by Ken Follett and I can't help but notice his formula now. Generational stories told in periods that are broken up into parts by long time jumps (this works well). Great villains that you will hate, yet at the same time find sympathetic (another win). A male protagonist who is a plain looking overachiever and a female protagonist who is a beautiful and strong ahead-of-her-time innovator (getting a little old). The good char
Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Follett's definitely got a formula, and here he follows it true to form. Unfortunately I thought it fell short compared to the others I've read, like Fall of Giants, A Placed Called Freedom, and especially Pillars of the Earth. The good people are good and prescient and precocious, the bad people are petty, vindictive, and rotten, and then.....crazy shit happens.

It's a formula, but he does it well.

However, the characters didn't live up to their WTF potential and the ending - as hilariously bugfu
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-author, audio
3.5 stars
Ken Follett really knows how to tell a story...he knows his characters and his history and weaves the two together in a very enjoyable way.
This is set in 1860's-1890's in England and follows the ups/downs of a family who own/run a bank.

Positives - great story telling, I couldn't wait to find out what happened next with plenty of interesting characters and plots to keep you interested.

Negatives - some repetition and stereotyping. 'Horrible' characters with no redeeming features where you
Mar 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ken Follett has long been a favorite author of mine. We tend to snap his books up as soon as they hit the shelves. Not sure how it happened, but 20 years ago I somehow missed this one. Came across it quite by accident, and it was like discovering a hidden treasure and what a pleasure it was to read!

Back to the days of corsets and bustles in merry old London, this tale spans the period of 1866 to 1892. Fans of this author are used to his finely drawn characters, not just the principals, all of t
Feb 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impressive Ken Follett novel, almost an epic (568 pp.) about the interplay between two 19th Century London banking families and the lower orders who want to become part of them. The Methodist Pilasters are quite conservative; the Jewish Greenbournes even more so. Serving as spoilers are wicked school chum Miguel ("Mickey") Miranda and the Pilasters' own Aunt Augusta. Along with descriptions of aristocratic parties and decadent bordellos there's enough soap opera to keep the pages flying. Not the ...more
Ankit Agrawal
Jun 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jeffrey Archer Fans, People who like master story-telling and real life dramas
Copied from a testimonial:
"Good thrillers are like elegant geometrical proofs. Their drama lies not in their ultimate outcome but in their method. Though we know that the good guys will eventually triumph, we don't know how; a good thriller should keep us guessing until the last page. Ken Follett does just that."

This is the first thing I had to say about Ken Follett when I completed this book. For long Jeffrey Archer has been my favourite writer and I have believed the fact that I can count on f
Nick Phillips
Sep 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I know that all tastes in books is subjective and what one person may like might not necessarily appeal to another but I really cannot stress how utterly terrible I found this book.

Imagine Zola's La Curee mixed with a touch of Mary Poppins and just enough Eyeless in Gaza to make one think that this might be a halfway decent read, rewritten by Jeffery Archer as a TV mini series for a minor digital channel and you are 10% of the way to understanding just how awful this novel is.

There is no charact
Larry Bassett
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, mystery
The presentation of this audible book captures it's era the last half of the 19th century very well. It focuses on a bank and the family of the owners of that bank. The main character Hugh is a model of high ethics and morality but there. Are plenty of characters in the banking family who are far lesser than he is. I was fascinated to experience the workings of the banking system in the 19 century and to experience the lives of the upper class and their system of titles. But there were also enou ...more
May 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: absolutefavs
Ken Follet has added another great book this novel, A Dangerous Fortune. His has a great nack for creating amazing characters showing many different aspects of human life, like manipulation, greedy, misery, deceiving, murder, political and amorous intrigues, etc., making the book a very entertaining reading.

The story takes place in the late 1800’s and starts with a tragic drowning of a student in an exclusive school named Windfield. A small circle of boys are directly or indirectly involved in t
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
***Attention! This review contains spoilers. So, don't read it unless you finished the book***

This book, what to say about this book? I absolutely love all Ken Follett’s book, he is genius.
Dangerous Fortune is not typical Follett’s book, set in 19th century , story follows the fortunes of famous and rich family Pilaster. At the beginning I thought it will be criminal book or something like that, I didn’t expect so much drama, romance and malice (all in good way).
First, my favorite character was
Nov 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of characters and lots of interesting details about banking in the robber baron days. Overall, a really good read! (And some poetic justice well served in the end pages!)
Patrice Sartor
Ken Follett sure knows how to tell a story, and he oozes character development skill. I got to know every character in the title well, for better or for worse. There were manipulators, the manipulated, the highborn, the lower class, and everything in between. I was eager to discover what these people would do next, and who they would do it to.

As a period piece, I cannot vouch for its authenticity (since I'm not an expert on London and South America in the late 1800s), but I can tell you that it
Kirsten McKenzie
Another exceptional book by Ken Follett. At one point I had to close the book because I knew something bad was about to happen, and I wanted to pretend for one moment that it wouldn't happen, but then I dived back in. So many threads woven perfectly together to tell the story of a bank and a mother's hunger for status, power and wealth.
19th century England was awash with class distinctions, and complex social rules, and Follett traverses those with mastery. Loved it.
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Dangerous Fortune is my third Ken Follett book, after Fall of Giants and Hornet Flight and I have to say after Fortune, he is fast becoming a favourite author of mine. This book was a tremendous read and one that had me hooked and longing to return to its pages to find out what would happen next.

Set in the 19th century, the story spans the decades between the 1860s and 1890s and follows the fortunes of the powerful Pilaster family following the death of a student one summer at a swimming hole
After reading Pillars of the Earth and listening to World Without End, I found A Dangerous Fortune to be somewhat predictable but I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. In A Dangerous Fortune, Ken Follett is again the master story teller, bringing together a family-saga spanning over 30 years that includes love, treachery, rivalry, drama, and crime. We watch the characters develop over the years some becoming strong and honest adults and others slipping into pure evil. The transitions from year t ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OMG!! I enjoyed this book. Although, the story was in the late 1800's, it had a modern flare to it. Ken gave us sooo much drama to work with from homosexuality, adultery, promiscuity, etc. I was intrigued from beginning to end. My first Follett book, but it won't be my last.
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
Turd pie n /tərd pī/: Something made to appear appetizing, but filled with excrement (see: A Dangerous Fortune).

I was not very far into this book when I discovered the reason people believe Dan Brown is a good author. It is because they have been reading books by Ken Follett. There is nothing original or good in this book, and the characters are grotesque stereotypes that speak as if their dialogue were cut out of other, unrelated, novels. I have several pet peeves when it comes to authors and F
Anthony Mazzorana
Parts of this book were worthy of four stars; some parts three; mostly two however. Very predictable, formulaic plot. After having read the first two installments of the Century trilogy and then coming back to this very early novel in Follett's career, the common elements in his formula are so much more obvious: the socioeconomic class struggles; the upper class/lower class love affair; the illegitimate child; the evil matriarch; the good ole'boy protagonist with blue eyes; the sex. Ah, yes, the ...more
Rohit Enghakat
Sep 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Ken Follett spins a nice tale about a family caught in web of betrayals, conspiracy and greed. This is something in the class of Jeffery Archer. A beautiful story with enough plots to keep you hooked. However, I thought that some characters were unnecessary like Nora & Albert Cammell. Nora's character served no purpose in the story since she is etched out as a gold digger with apparently no contributon to Hugh Pilaster's life except to give birth to his three kids. Come to think of it, his kids ...more
May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Good story, but way too lengthy. 2,5 Stars.
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fun read! The characters are the stars of this novel. Some you love, some you hate and some you feel sorry for. Love, greed, betrayal, and regrets. This book has it all.
A Man Called Ove
4.5/5 A delightful read for those who loved the Century and POTE trilogies. Only thing is, it is a but formulaic, so do not read it immediately after reading Follett’s other historical fiction.
Also, do mark Follett’s “A Place Called Freedom” too.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can always count on Ken to absorb me in those times when life gets in the way of reading something deep and literary! COVID's isolation had me unable to focus on a book for about three weeks, so I turned to a writer I knew would allow me directly into a story. I was right. This is not one of his best, but it was one I hadn't read and I knew if anyone could get me to lose myself in a book, he could. Thank you Ken for bringing me back to a decent reading pattern. Have read five books since!
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ken Follett has a talent for weaving complicated plots, creating complex characters, and for leaving you in suspense. None of those talents are evident in this book. The characters are one dimensional, the plot is predictable, and there's never really any kind of suspense in the book. It ends up reading like a Harlequin.
Barth Siemens
Partially listening to and mostly reading this novel was a marvelous experience. The author did a wonderful task of reminding through the text about prior plot developments that mattered to the current context. I cared about the protagonists and despised the antagonists. The climax was well worth the wait and the various twists were beautifully resolved in the epilogue.
Alina Colleen
Aug 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was terrible. Sorry!
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Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 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

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