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Afghanis vs. Soviets - A Super Suspense-Thriller + Romance!
on 16 February 2005
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan began on Christmas Eve 1979. The inhabitants of this geographically isolated land, rose up to defend their country. They armed themselves with whatever was on hand, gathered into loose formations and began to attack and sabotage the Soviet Union's personnel, installations, depots and transports with any available weapons. Scattered guerrilla bands, with fierce pride, and a tremendous ability to endure, fought against the far superior and more numerous Soviet forces and sophisticated weaponry.
"Lie Down With Lions" opens in Paris in 1981. John Ellis, an American CIA agent, is working undercover and living with a politically active Englishwoman, the sensual, lovely Jane Lambert, who he plans on proposing marriage to as soon as he completes his assignment. Jean-Pierre Debout, a French doctor and member of the Communist Party, is going to Afghanistan, ostensibly to provide medical assistance to the rebel forces fighting against the Soviets. He has, however, another agenda. Jean-Pierre also loves Jane and wants her to accompany him to Afghanistan as his nurse-assistant. Ellis, after capturing an important KGB agent, is exposed as CIA. Jane leaves him in disgust, not only because of his job, but because he lied to her.
The Valley of Five Lions, a place of ancient legend, lies deep in the Afghan mountains, far removed from civilization. Jane and her husband, Jean Pierre have been working here, in a rebel village, for a year. They minister to the local inhabitants, who have never seen a doctor before, and patch together and stitch-up the wounded warriors. An American visits the valley with an important message for Masud, a famous and effective guerrilla leader, from the White House. The messenger is John Ellis. A terrible treachery is discovered, shortly after he arrives. A nightmare flight with the Soviets in pursuit occurs, across the Hindu Kush, leading to an extraordinarily suspenseful confrontation. The action here is unbelievable with Ken Follett, the master of the suspense-thriller, at his best.
As usual, Follett's narrative is riveting and the action intense. His characters are well drawn and believable, with all their complexities and conflicts. There are so few novels written about Afghanistan, especially during this important period in history, and that makes "Lie Down With Lions" all the more worthwhile a read.