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Publisher's Summary

In 1866 tragedy strikes at the exclusive Windfield School when a mysterious accident takes the life of a student. Among the student's circle of friends are Hugh Pilaster; Hugh's older cousin Edward, dissolute heir to the Pilaster banking fortune; and Micky Miranda, the handsome son of a brutal South American oligarchy. The death and its aftermath begin the spiraling circle of treachery that will span three decades and entwine many lives.

From the exclusive men's clubs that cater to every dark desire of England's upper classes to the luxurious ballrooms of the manipulators of the world's wealth, Follett conjures up a stunning panorama of intrigue. A Dangerous Fortune brings us characters swept toward a perilous climax in which greed, fed by the shocking truth of a young man's death, must be stopped - or the dreams of a nation will die.

©1993 Ken Follett (P)1994 Brilliance Audio

Critic Reviews

"Breathlessly plotted...relentlessly suspenseful." ( The New York Times)"Ken Follett is a matchless storyteller, and this story is tailor-made for audio....With Follett teamed up with Page, you can't stop listening." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Predictable Fun

Ken Follett never fails to entertain, and though this is not his best book it's got that "Can't stop listening, got to find out what happens next" quality that is the mark of a natural storyteller. I waffled between three and four stars - and decided on four because of that very quality. As always Follett introduces numerous engrossing if two-dimensional characters, he's great with his villains, the story moves at a great clip. The book is predictable, but still a fun read, almost a guilty pleasure.

49 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Pembroke Pines, FL, United States
  • 06-30-08

excellent period book

Ken Follet is my favorite author when he writes period pieces. His best was Pillars of the earth and right behind that was World without end. This book comes in third and that is why I gave it only four stars. It is pretty hard to match those first two books. The characters in this book are interesting and some very evil. The way he writes makes you believe they are real though. I won't give away the plot but will just say it held my attention and interest and is worth the download credit.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

mixed review, a net disappointment for a Follett

I'm a real Follett fan, but I ran tepid and cool on this one. The turn-off for me was all the emphasis on bosoms and sex, crying and tears, women and men, page after page, chapter after chapter, ad nauseum (and I'm a boob man, too). A real soap opera.

Other than that, it was ok with interesting twists and turns although the overall plot was somewhat pedestrian, predictable and quite unbelievable. Descriptions of 19th century London with its brothels, mistresses and royal parties seemed authentic and it gave me a much better feel for the British class system and how it worked. The hierarchy of royal titles and how they are obtained was interesting, too.

Also on the positive side, there were some events depicted and resolved (if a bit tritely) that accurately parallel the horrible financial situation that we're presently experiencing. There's an interesting twist at the end, too.

But, oh yes, this is a book review of a thriller. Not too thrilling, but I did finish it.

The reader was excellent. He altered his voice nicely to represent individual characters, and maintained it throughout the book. This made following the sometimes intricate plot a bit easier.

I'm glad I bought it, but probably wouldn't again.

40 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • Arlington, TX, United States
  • 06-30-08

Best of the Recent Follett Releases

Of the recent Follet audible releases I have listened to (Eye of the Needle, Triple, Lie down with Lions) this is by far the best.

This one ranks right up there with my top three Follet Favorites (Pillars, World, and Hornet Flight).

This genre piece centered around Victorian English life-style in the late 1800's, captures the true pomp and circumstance of the English Monarchy culture of the time to a perfectly ridiculous level of absurdity.

The character development is excellent and in the end - just like Pillars - when asked to explain what the story was about or why it was good, you'll just have to say... "Just listen... I promise it's good, because if I explain it too much, it won't sound as interesting as it really is!"

37 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Dangerous Fortune

Formula Ken Follett. Engaging but then the story becomes too predictable with bad things happening over and over again to the "good guys" and the "bad guys" continually having everything go their way. The ending did have a surprising twist.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Family Saga Done Well

Ken Follett is one of the contemporary authors who both excite and annoy me. I have read Follett novels that are brilliant (i.e, Eye of the Needle) and hopeless messes (i.e., Jackdaws) For me, Dangerous Fortune is on the side of brillance. Follett takes that overdone and predictable plot wherein a bunch of school chums participate in a crime that comes back to haunt them years later. Such begins Dangerous Fortune. What moves Follett's characters into the field of art is the author's artistry. He shapes and presents each character so decidedly that the reader is never lost. These characters have style, wit and purpose and Follett throws them at us with brave gusto. Aided by a great narrator, Michael Page, Ken Follett's brillance is on every page. I loved this book and was sorry when it was over.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Scott
  • Roseville, CA, United States
  • 09-07-08

Listen Closely

Excellent story, *very* intricate plot, many villains and heroes. If you aren't a careful listener (or like me - listen when I *shouldn't* like when using the language part of my brain) -my own fault) you'll find yourself rewinding a lot because so much is packed in it. Don't let the caveat discourage you. D.F. has it all: love, romance, lust, heroism, gold-digging, social climbing, and villainy! Of course, the characters are a BIT two dimensional (good v. bad)..the plot is anything but! This is a thriller, not a Greek tragedy. There is so much double dealing and backstabbing there is a need to remind yourself who is allied with whom. Don't worry this makes your money/credit last longer. Follett did his homework on 19th century London because you get a perfect sketch of the class systems at that time in both: descriptions of elegant of upper classes and the gritty licentiousness of the lower class where the upper go "slumming", quite literally, as that is where all the REAL fun is located. I avoid spoilers because we all use these reviews to decide if a book is well read, produced, etc. (i.e. done well or poorly enough) to BUY. So I shan't give away any secrets even if some prior reviews have given away some pretty substantial hints. Remember, it is all about HOW it all happens and the general the details that are supposed get tied up so nicely.(NOTE: This reviewer *used* to give 5s a lot, and now saves a 5th star for "must listens." So a 4 or 5 means VERY entertaining. I would NOT give a "classic" 5 stars just to give it homage and to create a snobbish persona if it was a dull listen.)

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story


This book is like a mini epic, following a couple of families from childhood to old age, from rags to riches, from riches to rags. If your in a mood for an epic, but don't have the time for three books 20+ hours long a piece, then this may be your answer. It is not great literature, but it kept my attention for 16+ hours. It was predictable, but like a car wreck, I could not quit listening. The evil characters are evil through and through. I like the way they are mostly plotting and conniving. I like how they insult people without making it obvious. I used to work with a woman who would do that all the time. If you called her on it, she would act all innocent, as if she did not know what you where talking about.

This is only my second novel by Follett, but what I notice is that he does not ignore sex in everyday life. He does not make it the over whelming part or get that explicit, but there is lots of it. Maybe with women it is different, but men think about sex, once every so many seconds (based on age). It is a big part of life and effects a lot of what we do, so to ignore it is to ignore life as it really is. YOU ALWAYS GET PREGNANT FROM ONE F.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Melody
  • Campbell, CA, USA
  • 06-18-08

Very Enjoyable

I thorougly enjoyed this audio book. I've read a lot of Ken Follet and found this book to be very entertaining. It's shorter and lighter then Pillars & World but includes very good charactor building and a nicely paced story. I highly recommend it.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Christine
  • Guilderland, NY, United States
  • 06-01-08

Grand Entertainment

This book is not high literature, but it sure is entertaining. As usual, author Ken Follett has an intricate, well executed plot with a historical background. The parallel between the banking scandals during period of the book and now are striking. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
The villain in this story meets a hilarious and well deserved end.
For pure entertainment, this is a great choice.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • 05-12-11


I grabbed this as a way in to Follet while not having to sit through 50 hours of Pillars of the Earth. I was not disappointed. The story is masterfully crafted and keeps moving with the two main plots being whether or not Hugh and Maisy will get together and when or if the bad guywill get his due deserts. Great story, great characters and an unusual but satisfying, fitting end.

I loved it and fear I will have no choice now but to take the plunge and get Pillars of the Earth!

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mongfhind
  • 07-11-14

Well written and enjoyable but not outstanding.

Would you consider the audio edition of A Dangerous Fortune to be better than the print version?

I prefer audio books as I can listen to and enjoy them anywhere. Audio books comes into its own when carrying out boring tasks like ironing or on a tedious bus journey to work.

What other book might you compare A Dangerous Fortune to, and why?

I compare A Dangerous Fortune to other works by Ken Follett which I have read and enjoyed, Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and the Kingsbridge novels all of whom are well researched, well written and absorbing. Some of the plot of A Dangerous Fortune lacks credibility, however the characters are well-drawn and the overall story is good. I much preferred the narrator John Lee's style to Michael Page's, John Lee portrayal of the different characters was plausible, whereas Michael Page's characters' voices seemed almost comic, especially the older women. They sounded like pantomime dames which was not intention, I'm sure, but it spoiled my enjoyment a little. To balance that though his speech was clear and smooth.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

As I have said above, Michael Page's narration of some of the characters's parts was not as polished as I would have hoped.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Let's say, two or three sittings not one.

Any additional comments?

None springs to mind.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Amy
  • 07-21-13

Wonderful addictive story

After listening to all Ken Follett's epic novels, I downloaded this to listen to on holiday. It took a couple of chapters to get in to but after that I just loved it. You hate his villains and love his central characters. Twists, turns and tragedies, classic Follett!!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kirstine
  • 05-22-14

A splendid melodrama

Set in the second half of the 19th century the story starts with an unexplained drowning at a public school. The lives of the boys involved are entertainingly intertwined in this melodramatically good yarn of how that accident had ramifications down the decades. Like a fairy-tale good and evil battle it out, but here the failure of banks is the topical backdrop to characters who revel in villainy, licentiousness and intrigue set against those who are honourable, loyal and parsimonious. The story is full of suspense as the fortunes of the Pilaster banking family are affected by favoritism, folly, felony and foreign events. There are some wonderfully over-the-top characters such as the domineering mother, Augusta, and the devilishly attractive and manipulative Micky Miranda from South America.
Class, race, gender and religious prejudices abound in this colourful narrative with its Victorian values and the consequent hypocrisy.

I greatly enjoyed this book and thought the narrator excellent.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • elizabeth
  • 07-30-14


What did you like most about A Dangerous Fortune?

The whole story unfolds very nicely

What about Michael Page’s performance did you like?

He brought each charactor to life

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes but I cant reveal it or it might spoil the story

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Brooksies
  • 06-27-12

Entertaining, Enthralling, Exciting

I have to say, I love Ken Follet, I've read most of his books and The Pillars of the Earth is one of my all time favourites. I already read this book 15 years ago but it was nice to listen to again. I did not remember all the plot twists and was excited to see how it would all end.
It is written in his laid-back style and you can't wait to here what is going to happen next. Its also a very nice portrayal of the time, with intrigues in the financial world.
Book is also remarkably up to date with all the banks that are crashing at the moment, history repeats itself...
The readingby Michael page is also very nice, with good accents and pauses at the right moments.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • barjil
  • 04-04-13


I usually read the comments from readers before I buy a book, and these generally confirm the fact that reading taste is a totally individual thing - books I love some people can't finish and vice versa. Readers I enjoy are irritating to others and so on. However, whatever criticism I read of Ken Follett I'd probably ignore because the books he writes are usually well researched and the subject matter interesting. Not this time, though. All the people in it are horrible and their lives tawdry and I'm limping on to the end because I don't like to give up. I suppose it does point up the morals and social differences of the 19th century but says nothing original on the subject. After the blockbusters on the 20th century that he's written, this is a sad disappointment.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-30-11

An excellent listen

It moves at a great pace throughout and is an excellent story. As with previous books by this author one needs to be prepared for some graphic detail and colourful language which I could personally do without, but that said, his storytelling is fantastic.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Liam
  • 12-17-09


Love it. Great read.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • 07-31-11

A Dangerous Fortune

Both my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this terrific book. Superbly researched, excellently read and a real gripper from start to finish. I can certainly recommend this to all Follett fans

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • Suzanne Tonkin
  • 11-05-17

great story

enjoyed this book from beginning to end. make sure you stay for the epilogue
well read too

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Chris
  • 09-18-17

follett tells a great story.

as always ken follett keeps me engaged with a"good yarn" and intrresting characters. a light but absorbing story.

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  • Bernadette
  • 03-30-15

Skip this book

I didn't enjoy this book or the performance as much as his other works. I would not recommend this book to a friend.