Here is an email I received from my brother Oren, on 4/22/98 with his insights about Ken Follet's writing.
Today, during my bus ride home, I thought about the book I have finished yesterday. As you know I like Follet's books a lot and I enjoy reading them every time but today I started to think about them.
There's something strange about them. To he who likes this style these books are always entertaining and interesting but Follet has a tendency to repeat himself. You can divide his books in two: The first one is the one who deals with spying and International schemes and the other ones are the more historical books. Both of these styles has a lot in common and that's what bothers me with his books.
There's always a strong divide between what's good and what's bad and who's good and who's bad. He manages to create a villain for every book and this villain is always the opposite of the hero. Every villain is introduced (Most of the times) as a weak person who is manipulated by 1-2 people who are not as superior as he is. The villain is most of the times the one that has the power but he's not strong enough to make decision's or to think of schemes. In the espionage books the villain's are motivated by ideal's and systems that strengths them.
The villain will have all the luck he can get during the book but the good hero will never die before the end of the book. Even when thing's seem to be horrible there's always a shine of hope for the hero. Follet "kills" a few good people along the way but they are always sacrificed because they were not good enough to carry on in the plot. He punishes his heroes but keeps the main hero harmless. In order to be fair he "kills" a villain during the early part's of every story but he does it to the less important villains.
Follet seeks for social justice in many things but he keeps forgetting that historical stories did not take Place in our "fixed" society of 'sickening politically correct manners'. In the older times women were not as "free" as Follet is trying to introduce them and that is only one example out of many. The last thing that is very outstanding through out his work is that the Mother figure is always very strong. In "A dangerous fortune", Augusta, manipulates her son. Alicia Jamison is the clever mind that operates Jay etc.
The Father figure is usually gone/dead/cheap or not important. Hugh Fillister has no father; George Jamison hates his son etc.
After all of that, the big question is "What keeps me chained to his Books". I think the answer is very simple. Reading a Ken Follet book makes you fell as if you were at home, watching a mini-series. It's interesting.
And it's Breath-taking…