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Hornet Flight Mass Market Paperback – November 25, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 378 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An old-fashioned tale of ordinary people thrown into the drama and danger of war, Hornet Flight is a rippingly good read. The time is 1941, and British bombers attacking Germany are being blown out of the sky in horrific numbers. How do the Nazis know they're coming? The answer is an infant technology called radar, and the Brits--with help from the Danish Resistance--must figure out how and where the German radar stations operate.

Follett, an old pro at World War II storytelling, vividly evokes the period, creating a sense not of historical re-creation but of urgently unfolding news. His cast of characters is memorable, including Harald Olufsen, a brainy 18-year-old pulled into the Resistance half against his will, and--typically for Follett--several central, well-drawn women. The plot does have some predictable elements: for example, from the time Harald first encounters a tiny wood-and-linen biplane called a Hornet Moth, half-rotted and stored away in a Danish barn, we know that it will heroically take to the skies. Then, when the very outcome of the war begins to turn on Harald getting a certain roll of film from Denmark to England, well... you can see where things are headed. But it's great fun to watch them develop, and Follett throws in just enough unexpected shocks to keep you off balance. Though it lacks the intensity of Eye of the Needle, Follett's finest and best-known book, Hornet Flight offers generous helpings of suspense and a climax that could hardly be more satisfying. --Nicholas H. Allison --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling Welsh author Follett has made a career out of the WWII suspense thriller (Eye of the Needle; Jackdaws), and he hits the mark again with this dramatic and tragic tale of amateur spies pursued by Nazi collaborators in occupied Denmark in 1941. Harald Olufsen is an 18-year-old physics student who stumbles into espionage when he accidentally discovers a secret German radar installation on the island where he lives. The British do not know the Germans have radar and cannot understand why British nighttime bomber losses are so high. When Harald learns there is a fledgling Danish resistance group called the Nightwatchmen, he becomes involved through his older brother, Arne, a happy-go-lucky Danish army pilot. Harald photographs the secret radar site, but the spy group quickly unravels under the pressure of Danish police detective Peter Flemming, an officious, ruthless, and arrogant cop who hates the Olufsen family for a public humiliation his father suffered years before. The amateur spy network underestimates the police with tragic and deadly results, and soon Harald and his Jewish girlfriend, Karen, must plan a desperate aerial escape to get the photographs to England. Follett starts out fast and keeps up the pace, revealing how ordinary people who want to do the right thing are undone by their own enthusiasm and inexperience. He also paints a vivid and convincing picture of life in occupied Denmark, of easy collaboration with the Nazis and of the insidious, creeping persecution of the Jews.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (November 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451210743
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451210746
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.3 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (378 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
Harald Olufsen, a student in occupied Denmark, stumbles upon a secret German radar station. Unless he relays this discovery to England, huge RAF loses will continue and British and Russian war efforts may crumble. With the help of his heroic brother, a new love and a British agent, Harald needs to dodge some determined pursuers and navigate a 600-mile trek across the cold North Sea to gain his freedom and to help the war effort. Ken Follett delivers a realistic and engaging tale in "Hornet Flight".
Follett is no stranger to World War II yarns, but he approaches this thriller with a new and refreshing perspective. Rather than painting the Germans as rabid Nazis, he portrays them only as menacing background. The real villain is a Danish detective with a very complex personality, determined to break the spy ring and extract personal vengeance from Harald and his family. The hero is imperfect, yielding a clever idea one moment and staggering into a pitfall the next. This heightens the realism and suspense. In fact, Follett downplays his normal gunplay, using the space to develop a very rich ensemble of characters woven into an intriguing and rewarding story.
"Hornet Flight" neither begins nor ends with explosions. The reader ends up enjoying the journey as much as the destination.
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Format: Paperback
Ken Follett's "Hornet Flight" is a rousing World War II adventure full of all of the characters you'd expect in a film noire spy thriller about the Nazis. We have the plucky Englishwoman, spunky high school kids, brave soldiers and a scarred-up German officer who wears the jackboots and everything.

You know how it's going to end even before you start thanks to too much information on the description page but it's still a rollicking fun ride. It hit me just right during these blase winter days.
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Format: Hardcover
Ken Follett is my favorite author. I have read every single one of his books, bar none. Bar none, this was poorest book he has ever written. The settings, characters, and story line are classic -- you can pick almost everyone of them out of his previous WW II era novels. It has a lot of plot similarities to Eye of the Needle and Jackdaws.
However, the overall plot is extremely predictable. You can see just what is going to happen after reading the first 25%. The details however revolve time and time and time again on a whole series of coincidences which is very out of character for Follett. I liked most of his books because the story line follows a logical flow with interesting bobs and weaves stemming from an initial premise. This was more like a low budget movie where things happen by coincidences and characters survive by inches or seconds so many times it becomes unbelievable and ridiculous.
The climatic seen of the flight to England has to be the absolutely worst piece of writing ever by Follett. The events are ridiculous, the characters repeatedly make stupid errors, and the whole thing plays like a cheap B movie. For instance, are we to believe that the only character who knows how to fly the plane falls asleep during a night flight over water half an hour after almost being shot out of the sky -- and the inexperienced person that's awake lets her sleep? Or the king of them all, are we to believe the character waits till the airplane is within minutes of running out of gas before remembering to add the extra can of gas he has in the cockpit -- which he could have done 4 hours earlier? Or how about delaying a day the flight that will change the war and save thousands of lives so that the main character can go to the ballet?
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