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Cover image for A place called freedom
A place called freedom
1st Ballantine Books domestic ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Fawcett Crest, 1996.
Physical Description:
450 pages : map ; 18 cm
From the teeming streets of 1776 London to the infernal hold of a slave ship headed for the American colonies to a sprawling Virginia plantation, two restless young people, separated by politics and position, are bound by their search for a place called freedom.


Call Number

On Order




Scotland, 1766. Sentenced to a life of misery in the brutal coal mines, twenty-one-year-old Mack McAsh hungers for escape. His only ally: the beautiful, highborn Lizzie Hallim, who is trapped in her own kind of hell. Though separated by politics and position, these two restless young people are bound by their passionate search for a place called freedom.

From the teeming streets of London to the infernal hold of a slave ship to a sprawling Virginia plantation, Ken Follett's turbulent, unforgettable novel of liberty and revolution brings together a vivid cast of heroes and villains, lovers and rebels, hypocrites and hell-raisers--all propelled by destiny toward an epic struggle that will change their lives forever.

Author Notes

Ken Follett was born in Wales, United Kingdom on June 5, 1949. He received an Honours degree in philosophy from University College, London. He began his career as a newspaper reporter for the South Wales Echo and later with the London Evening News. He decided to switch to publishing and worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

His first bestselling novel, Eye of the Needle, was published in 1978 and won the Edgar Award. His other works include Triple, The Key to Rebecca, The Man from St. Petersburg, Lay Down with Lions, The Pillars of the Earth, The Third Twin, The Hammer of Eden, Code to Zero, Whiteout, World Without End, The Century Trilogy, and A Column of Fire. Many of his novels have been adapted into films and television miniseries. He has won numerous awards including the Corine Prize in 2003 for Jackdaws. His nonfiction works include On Wings of Eagles.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

The key to Follett's absorbing new historical novel (after A Dangerous Fortune) lies in words that ``made a slave of every Scottish miner's son'' in the 1700s: ``I pledge this child to work in [the laird's] mines, boy and man, for as long as he is able, or until he die.'' When young Malachi (Mack) McAsh challenges this practice, citing its illegality, he begins a pattern of rebelling against authority while pursuing justice. Mack's dangerous quest for freedom makes him a fugitive in High Glen, where he is brutally punished by Sir George Jamisson in retaliation for his intention to quit the mines. After escaping to London, Mack confronts injustice again when he tries to break the monopoly of ``undertakers,'' who furnish crews to unload coal from ships; arrested and tried, he is transported to Virginia as an indentured servant. All this time, his fate is intertwined with that of Lizzie Hallim, daughter of the impoverished laird of High Glen, who is as spirited, independent-minded and daring as is Mack himself. (Readers may not quite believe her sexual aggressiveness, but Follett knows how to strike chords with feminists.) But Lizzie is gentry, so she must marry Jay, the younger Jamisson son. Follett adroitly escalates the suspense by mixing intrigue and danger, tinged with ironic complications. He also provides authoritative background detail, including specifics about the brutal working conditions of mine workers and coal heavers and the routine of an American tobacco plantation. History is served by references to real-life English liberal John Wilkes, who challenged the established view that the virtual enslavement of ``common'' men by aristocrats was God's will, and events in Virginia as the Colonies move toward rebellion. If the dialogue sometimes seems lifted from a bodice-ripper, and if far-fetched coincidences keep flinging Lizzie and Mack together, these flaws are redeemed by Follett's vigorous narrative drive and keen eye for character. BOMC and QPB main selections; Reader's Digest Condensed Book selection; simultaneous Random House audio and large-print editions; author tour. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Review

From the prolific, predictable, palatable Follett (A Dangerous Fortune, 1993, etc.), a not-unenjoyable mishmash of history, romance, and transatlantic adventure. It's 1766, and in the Scottish Highlandswhere wealthy landowners are exploiting their starving coal minerstrouble is brewing in the form of revolution. Gutsy orphan Mack MacAsh has just turned 21 and learned that by law he's free to leave his life of misery and degradation in the Jamisson family mines. With the help of his twin, Esther, and rich but kindhearted Lizzie Hallim, who's about to marry the younger Jamisson son, Jay, Mack manages a dramatic escape to London, where he single-mindedly sets fire to the kindling of the British labor movement. Set up by the weak- willed Jaywho's also conveniently moved to Londonthe long- suffering Mack is arrested for a crime he didn't commit, and while saved from hanging (by Lizzie, now Jay's wife), he is sentenced to seven years of servitude in America. On a Jamisson-owned ship, he's shackled below deck with lots of other slaves-to-be, including his prostitute girlfriend and her child sidekick, while Lizzie and Jayheaded for Jay's wedding gift, a tobacco plantationtravel above-deck in comparative luxury. Once in Virginia, the foolhardy Jay quickly gambles away his plantation and loses Lizzie as wellto Mack, who, in an unlikely twist, has been working as a servant on Jay's property. Stereotypes abound, and Follett takes liberties with historical detail, but when Mack and Lizzie ride off (literally) into the sunset, it's an undeniably satisfying gallop. No surprises, but this TV-moviebound summer read, despite its flaws, goes down like a glass of cold lemonade. (Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club main selections; author tour)

Booklist Review

Follett's newest story of adventure and love tells of two strong people--a man and a woman--destined to be together. In Scotland in 1767, Mack McAsh is a coal miner on the property owned by Sir George Jamisson. As a coal miner with the ability to read and the drive to be free, Mack proves to be no small problem for the Jamisson family. After exposing the illegality of the mining system, Mack is collared and publicly humiliated, and he flees to London, dismayed to discover a whole new set of hardships and inequities there. The youngest Jamisson son has also moved to London with his new bride, Lizzie Hallim, a spunky beauty who's ahead of her time. She was a childhood playmate of Mack's, and when she runs into him in London, where he has already become a local political hero, she feels the old attraction for him. Lizzie and Mack help each other--despite their different loyalties and social classes--out of various scrapes, ultimately landing in America, where their love develops and Mack's dream of freedom now includes Lizzie. It's no Eye of the Needle (1978), but as usual with Follett, the action and the tension should keep fans happily turning pages. (Reviewed July 1995)0517701766Kathy Broderick

Library Journal Review

Follett's latest (following A Dangerous Fortune, Delacorte, 1993) begins in the coal-mining region of 18th-century Scotland. The author convincingly evokes the grim, hard life of the miners, one of whom defies the brutal authority of the owner and is forced to flee. Mack ends up in London, but more defiance causes him to be deported to the American Colonies. Characters, whom he seems to find no matter where he goes, are Jay Jamisson, the weak-willed and bitter younger son of Sir George Jamisson, owner of the Scottish mines, and Lizzie, Jay's spunky, soft-hearted wife, who soon realizes what a horrid man she has married. The characters are stereotypes and coincidental meetings abound, but the historical picture of suffering and of injustice done to the poor is well drawn. Also, the writing has a certain verve and energy that keeps the reader interested. Recommended for most collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/95.]-Patricia Altner, Information Seekers, Bowie, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.