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In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty, and love.
Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious divide sweeping across the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country's first secret service, to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.
The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else - no matter what the cost.
Set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history, A Column of Fire is one of Follett's most exciting and ambitious works yet and is perfect both for longtime fans of the Kingsbridge series as well as listeners new to Ken Follett.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Charles Atkinson on 10-11-17
Follett is a Master Storyteller
A Column of Fire is set in Kingsbridge shortly after the death of Henry III. His daughter Mary is queen and England's alliance with the Roman Catolic Church has been restored. Thus, the tensions between Protestant and Catholic faiths are seething. Unlike Pillars of the Earth, where few of us if any knew the history of earliest England, there is little mystery or revelation surrounding the actual events of the times. Yet it is Follett's skill at weaving extradorniary characters and stories with historical events that make this book a worthy sequel.
Within moments, he introduces us to a string villains and heroes we are immediately attracted too. There are impending conflicts, the dread of loss and the hope of true love.
Creating characters with religious motivations is remarkably difficult. One has to assume the subject's degree of education, upbringing, sincerity and moral character to make it believable. Follett is great at this. And even today, it is clear that many sincere people of faith often believe, live, teach and manipulate others in direct conflict with their own religion. However, having studied the history of Catholicism in Europe, I do take issue with Folllet's view of Catholicism (and really all of Christianity) history. His disdain for the Catholic faith is impossible to hide.
I bring that up, because even though I personally took issue with his prejudice, A Column of Fire grabbed me from the beginning and kept me riveted till the end.
38 of 39 people found this review helpful
By Derrick J. Robinson on 09-30-17
A great epic by a master storyteller
This is a richly detailed historical novel. The narration is excellent. The story is compelling and reveals the brutal depths of the religious conflict in Europe during the 1540’s to the 1600’s. If you are a fan of Ken Follett you will not be disappointed.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful