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A Place Called Freedom

A Place Called Freedom

3.9 181
by Ken Follett, Leona Nevler

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for A Place Called Freedom
"Gripping . . . a very entertaining tale." Chicago Tribune
"Compelling." San Francisco Chronicle
"Quick-paced." New York Daily News
"An altogether entertaining reading experience." Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Follett skillfully combines tension, eroticism, and an unusual locale." —Detroit Free Press

"A richly colored plot . . . Entertaining." —Lexington Herald-Leader

"Superb storytelling." —West Coast Review of Books

"The action and the tension should keep fans happily turning pages." —Booklist

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.
Library Journal
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.
Kathy Broderick
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.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Mack was in one of the common wards of Newgate Prison.

He could not remember all that had happened to him the night before. He had a dazed recollection of being tied up and thrown across the back of a horse and carried through London. There was a tall building with barred windows, a cobbled courtyard, a staircase and a studded door. Then he had been led in here. It had been dark, and he had not been able to see much. Battered and fatigued, he had fallen asleep.

He woke to find himself in a room about the size of Cora's apartment. It was cold: there was no glass in the windows and no fire in the fireplace. The place smelled foul. At least thirty other people were crammed in with him: men, women and children, plus a dog and a pig. Everyone slept on the floor and shared a large chamberpot.

There was a constant coming and going. Some of the women left early in the morning, and Mack learned they were not prisoners but prisoners' wives who bribed the jailers and spent the nights here. The warders brought in food, beer, gin, and newspapers for those who could pay their grossly inflated prices. People went to see friends in other wards. One prisoner was visited by a clergyman, another by a barber. Anything was permitted, it seemed, but everything had to be paid for.

People laughed about their plight and joked about their crimes. There was an air of jollity that annoyed Mack. He was hardly awake before he was offered a swallow of gin from someone's bottle and a puff on a pipe of tobacco, as if they were all at a wedding.

Mack hurt all over, but his head was the worst. There was a lump at the back that was crusted with blood. He felt hopelessly gloomy. He had failed in every way. He had run away from Hugh to be free, yet he was in jail. He had fought for the coal heavers' rights and had got some of them killed. He had lost Cora. He would be put on trial for treason, or riot, or murder. And he would probably die on the gallows. Many of the people around him had as much reason to grieve, but perhaps they were too stupid to grasp their fate.

Poor Esther would never get out of the village now. He wished he had brought her with him. She could have dressed as a man, the way Lizzie Hallim did. She would have managed sailors' work more easily than Mack himself, for she was nimbler. And her common sense might even have kept Mack out of trouble.

He hoped Annie's baby would be a boy. At least there would still be a Mack. Perhaps Mack Lee would have a luckier life, and a longer one, than Mack McAsh.

He was at a low point when a warder opened the door and Cora walked in.

Meet the Author

Ken Follett burst into the book world with Eye of the Needle, an award-winning thriller and international bestseller. After several more successful thrillers, he surprised everyone with The Pillars of the Earth and its long-awaited sequel, World Without End, a national and international bestseller. Follett’s new, magnificent historical epic, the Century Trilogy, includes the bestselling Fall of GiantsWinter of the World, and Edge of Eternity. He lives in England with his wife, Barbara.

Brief Biography

Hertfordshire, England
Date of Birth:
June 5, 1949
Place of Birth:
Cardiff, Wales
B.A. in Philosophy, University College, London, 1970

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A Place Called Freedom 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 180 reviews.
katydid8 More than 1 year ago
I can't believe that Ken Follet, author of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End wrote this book. It is by far the worst book I have read in ages and I read about 3 books a month. Eighty percent of the book consisted of the most idiotic dialog, in modern day American English, instead of eighteenth century Scottish. I think I wrote a story when I was seven that was better than this. Evidently, Mr. Follet did absolutely no research of the time and place because there was so little description expressed. The characters were hollow shells, I knew basically nothing about them and therefore couldn't care less about any of them. The story was so predictable that I knew in the first thirty pages how it was going to end. I just can't get over the fact that Ken Follet is the author of this book.
MagiV More than 1 year ago
I've been reading Ken Follett for as long as he's been writing; and until this book, I was NEVER disappointed. Reading for me, is the ultimate enjoyment - I don't just "read"; I go "into" the book. I can see what the author is writing about; feel what is happening. I love reading more than just about anything else. And, when I see a new Ken Follett book, I cannot not wait it to come out - I have re-read, almost all of his books, many times. He's an incredible writer. But, he did not write this book. He couldn't have! The initial plot lines were terrific - but they were empty! He just skimmed over the plots of this book, when he had this wonderful opportunity to really dig into what life was like during this time period, and for indentured servants. It just wasn't believable. Sadly, this is one book I will not recommend, nor will I take the time to re-read. There was no enjoyment here.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Follett has written a very interesting study of freedom and non-freedom. He reminds us vividly that freedom is much more than the right to vote. By starting with Scottish coalminers who were enslaved to the mine owners if they worked a year and a day in the mines and dramatically communicating the human costs of subservience and the brutalizing aspects of power over others he carries the reader into a variety of experiences far more interesting and thought provoking than the traditional revolutionary era novel. For anyone who would like to think about the nature and value of freedom and the importance of the rule of law, private property and basic human dignity this is an interesting novel that will hold your attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book by one of my favorite authors (??) is extremely poorly written. Perhaps it was written by his son or daughter. It was very poorly researched. You cannot change a covered wagon into a plow as he suggests not matter what magic you command. Save your money and buy his other good books!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the historical backdrop interesting, but I like another reviewer found the actual story to be cheaply done. It was over sexed in my opinion if you know what I mean.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The historical backdrop is stunning: from the misery of Scottish poverty to the sanctuary of the American wilderness, but then, you realize, these two refugees would be the grandparents of the "hillbillies", the largely-Scottish residents of the southern states, the heart of the Confederacy. And then you remember that the British Act of Union put the St. George Cross over the St. Andrew's cross, making the union jack. And that the Confederate Stars and Bars was basically the St. Andrews Cross of Scotland.

And the underlying lesson, that no matter how touching and honorable the settlers of America, no matter how terrible the injustices they fled from, both high- and low-borne, they, or their descendants, were right there for inflicting their own injustice on slaves when they fought for the Confederacy.

So the moral lessons of this book are on many levels, for me, and the very accurate portayal of Scottish coal-miner village misery and enslavement is worth revisiting.

Having read this book a while back, I'm grateful for B&N for being able to find it again; it has permanent and valuable lessons both historical -- and personal. Being part Scottish, it has a powerful appeal and deserves to be re-read periodically, despite the somewhat kitschey romantic backdrop. The picture of London poverty alone is worth preserving, even adulterated by the fabric of the made-up characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was my second book by K. Follett I read. The first was 'The pillars of the Earth'. Also in this second, the historical circumstances are interesting and I liked them. The story is written in such a way that the reader is unable to stop reading. On the other hand I must (and I am sorry to do it) say that the story was a bit cheap, sometimes almost similar to some stupid TV series....
engine88 More than 1 year ago
If you have read 'Pillars of the Earth' or 'World without End' you will enjoy this book. I like the way Follett details the way life was in past times. Ken Follett is one of my favorite authors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. I could not put it down! It is easy to get into from the beginning. Please read it if you have the chance.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ken Follett has strayed away from his usual style with this historical novel. A Place Called Freedom is the story of social difference in 18th Century Britain and America. Mack McAsh is a coal miner bonded to the Jamisson family. He falls in love with Lizzie a local girl who is beyond his reach and in fact marries into the Jamisson clan. Mack follows the trail of being a runaway to being a convict in the Americas. Despite the historical differences this book is typical Follett with adventure, intrique and excitement. I hope it isn't his last in this vein.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! I got it for Christmas when i was just 14 and i put off reading it for a while. Boy, am i glad i finally read it! i'm now 15 and have read it 3 times through, and everytime it seems to get better. i didn't understand some of it at first, being only 14 and all, but each time i read it i understand more and more. i recommend this book anyone, no matter what age!!
honolulututu More than 1 year ago
Reminds me of Follett's trilogy on the history of the 20th century. Could easily be seen as an earlier part of the story that begins in Fall of Giants, with the coal miners owned by the landed gentry. Entertaining story while staying true to historical events and patterns - I found myself involved and caring about the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started well but turned into a typical "bodice ripper" designed for gullible 'unread and near illerate' YOUNG women! Cannot believe Follett could, or wpuld, write such drivel. I wish i could post a NEGATIVE FIVE STARS.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want a good read overlook the negative and the childish nonserious postings this book is great for a get away from it all read the female character is strong and believeable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down! Great book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fuc.k off bastur.d bit.ch you dont have a family thats the other way around and um one more thing go screw your self
Anonymous More than 1 year ago