Gary Dexter

Surprising literary ventures | 5 November 2008

Amok: King of Legend, by Ken Follett

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Amok: King of Legend

Ken Follett

Ken Follett is a cult in countries such as Japan, Italy and Spain — in Spain, in fact, there is a statue to him, inaugurated in January this year, in the town of Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque country. In Britain he is also loved, but perhaps not with the fanatical devotion he deserves. Most people don’t even know that he wrote under the pen-name, early in his career, of Bernard L Ross. In fact, most people haven’t heard of Amok, King of Legend, a book widely known in Holland, France, Tibet, the Republic of Ireland, Ghana and Germany, where it appeared with the title Amok: Der Killer Gorilla. The plot is as follows. A film crew go to a hidden African valley where they find a giant ape. The ape falls in love with the pretty production assistant, Purity Lane, and is captured and taken back to San Francisco, where he wreaks havoc. Ken dedicated the book ‘to Jonathan Swift, who thought of it first’. But unless Gulliver was an African ape who hankered after a toothsome female film-crew member and went on to destroy a major modern Western city, no Ken, he didn’t.