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The Hammer of Eden: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – November 2, 1999

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (November 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449004589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449227541
  • ASIN: 0449227545
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The unlikely idea of a bunch of commune-dwelling radicals deliberately setting off an earthquake starts making sense in this unabridged reading of Ken Follett's thriller. Alexander Adams's radio-friendly voice moves smoothly from narrative to dialogue to flashbacks. He's especially terrific when narrating the violent, unspoken thoughts of Priest, the illiterate but charismatic villain, whose plan to save his idyllic commune could ultimately destroy much more nature than it preserves. (Running time: 13 hours, eight cassettes) --Lou Schuler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

After 20 years of writing bestselling novels, Follett is enough of a pro to produce a reliable page-turner from a flimsy premise?as he does here. His working out of how a rural, socially radical California commune moves not heaven but earth to stave off the loss of their land to a government dam and the ensuing flood is smartly paced if nearly devoid of inspiration. What distinguishes it is not the communards' weapon, a stolen seismic vibrator generally used by oil companies to sound for liquid gold but also handy for starting earthquakes. Nor is it the mechanical progression of the plot, as the radicals, calling themselves the Hammer of Eden, escalate threats and consequent quakes in order to blackmail the state into halting the dam until the finale finds them about to devastate San Francisco. Nor is it the by-the-book chase of the terrorists by a headstrong female FBI agent who might have walked onstage from any of a dozen other thrillers. What does?other than its efficient telling?raise the novel above mundanity is the depth of characterization of its villains, a Follett forte since his splendid debut in Eye of the Needle. Follett devotes many pages to backstory, creating in Priest, once a smalltime hood and now the commune's leader, in Star, his hippie earth-woman, and in Melanie, a bitter young beauty who throws in with the commune, fully realized outcasts, crazed and desperate idealists whose actions are as believable as they are heinous. All else in the novel, including the perfunctory prose, serve only to push the story quickly through its paces, but Follett's troupe of lost souls makes it dance to a memorable, mournful tune. Agent, Al Zuckerman; major ad/promo; simultaneous Random House audio and large-print edition.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Ken Follett was only twenty-seven when he wrote the award-winning EYE OF THE NEEDLE, which became an international bestseller. His celebrated PILLARS OF THE EARTH was voted into the top 100 of Britain's best-loved books in the BBC's the Big Read and the sequel, WORLD WITHOUT END, will be published in Autumn 2007. He has since written several equally successful novels including, most recently, WHITEOUT. He is also the author of non-fiction bestseller ON WINGS OF EAGLES. He lives with his family in London and Hertfordshire.

Customer Reviews

This book doesn't really deserve one star!
There was too much emphasis on the romantic interest in the story which bogged the plot line.
Would recommend this book to any one who enjoys a fast paced and thrilling good story.
Martha Skwatt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By D. Ross on June 8, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The idea, at first blush, is bold and captivating. A fringe, cult-like group is determined to protect their commune, which is located in the backwoods of Northern California, from development. To do so, they need a credible means to force the state government to cease their incessant land-grabs. With the help of a geologist who's joined the commune, the cult leader (Priest) determines there may be a way to trigger earthquakes using a sonic mapping device known as a seismic vibrator.

Follett's talent is prodigious. He's almost capable of making us believe that this preposterous scenario is remotely plausible. But even his immense talent isn't enough to make up for the succession of plot holes big enough to drive a seismic vibrator through.

Example: At one point, Michael seems to be the only one in the state who hasn't seen Priest's picture on television. Because Michael encountered Priest early on in the story, he should have recognized him on TV and the entire FBI dragnet should have ended a lot sooner.

The puzzle pieces are all there, in formulaic fashion: The cute, female FBI agent. The cute, divorced male geologist Michael. The Manson-like cult leader Priest who, though illiterate, is able to evade the FBI repeatedly while driving a giant seismic vibrator that tops out at about 40 mph. I'm sure you can guess what happens.

If you're stuck inside on a rainy day and you happen to have this laying around (and nothing else to do), certainly go ahead and read it. Otherwise, learn macrame or origami. You'll drive yourself crazy second-guessing the characters and the author in this all-too-predictable bore-fest. Mr. Follett is far too talented to be producing works of this caliber.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Gary Levine on March 23, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a long standing Ken Follett fan. I consider The Pillars of the Earth to be one of my all time favourite books. A magnificent, sweeping, all consuming tale, well worth a reread. Unfortunately, The Hammer of Eden falls far short of the mark. Like the slow low-rumblings of the seismic generator it chronicles, this story rolls on to an all too predictable conclusion. I felt like I was reading a hastily written treatment for a made-for-TV-movie; complete with shallow characters and trashy sex scenes. Too bad I started longing for commercials.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By psychotropic on December 10, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I've been a follower of KF's work since "Eye of the Needle" and have read nearly all his paperbacks. My favorite by far must be "Pillars of the Earth."
As many of these readers have pointed out, there are major problems with this novel. The most glaring of which is the plotline.
In the journalism industry, we are taught one basic rule about writing a story: do you understand your assignment to the extent that you could chat with your neighbor "over the fence" about it and have it make sense? If not, go back and do your research.
Okay, it breaks down like this: a bunch of forgotten hippies from the 1960's cause a series of earthquakes with oil-drilling equipment to stop the State of California from taking their commune, and a beautiful FBI agent must stop them to win fame, career advancement and love(!). That about right?
I'm from Northern California, and the area has a flavor all its own. KF captures some of it. (I especially liked the segment where the N. Cali residents justify staying in California with the imminent threat of another earthquake looming.)
But KF's strongest area is historical fiction focused on England and/or Europe. His war dramas also ring true with most readers.
This experiment with modern American culture tended to fall short, as did his previous work in this area, "The Third Twin."
Folks, if you need your KF historical thriller fix, pick up a copy of "London" - it's bland in places, but it will keep you going until KF decides to write again about his homeland.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 1998
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up in Copenhagen in Sept., it's due to be released in the US in October (I think). Anyway, I was skepical to dive into this after "The Third Twin," which I felt was a huge disappointment against all of the other great things he's written. But, I'm happy to report that this book helps bring Mr. Follett on his road to recovery! The basic plot is an interesting one: the ability of a cult-commune leader to trigger a California earthquake in order to stop the development of power plants threatening his home. The plot moves quickly, with a good mix of suspense, humor, passion, and all the usual elements. The links that develop between the good and evil keep the story interesting, and but for a few points that seem a bit too contrived or unlikely, I enjoyed the book and recommend it to Follett fans. It's no "Pillars of the Earth" (my vote for his best work, and one of my favorite books ever), but it is worth reading and encourages me that there is indeed life after "Third Twin."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By fdoamerica on March 25, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Take a group of communal hippies, held together by a slightly likeable, but desperate, determined and deranged leader, called Priest, then add one smart, relentless female FBI agent. Add a slice of an environmentally insensitive California governor, sprinkle lightly with multiple-partner sex, add good California pot, a vicious back-stabbing at the local FBI office, then throw in a killing or two; shake well with earthquake force, then you will have a gripping Ken Follett novel.
Follett is a master of creating conflicts within conflicts, a crisis within a crisis. In "Hammer of Eden" he draws you into the contrasting worlds of a free-love hippy commune and the regimented FBI. Follett enlightens you with some interesting and informative insights on how the FBI uses linguistic analysis to profile suspects.
However, I did have difficultly accepting Follett's portrait of the FBI. After the gross intelligence failure of September 11th I believe it will be a long time before any author will, as Follett did, portray the FBI as being a technologically omniscient, an agency that is able to out think the common terrorist. That said, this is a engrossing read and highly recommended
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