Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
<p> The saga that has enthralled the millions of readers of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire . <br> <br> Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed.<br> <br> The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Europe is in turmoil as high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald.<br> <br> Then Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen and all of 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.<br> <br> Elizabeth knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Part of a brutally ambitious French family, Mary has been proclaimed the rightful ruler of England, with her own supporters scheming to get rid of the new queen.<br> <br> Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. With Elizabeth clinging precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents, it becomes clear that the real enemies - then as now - are not the rival religions.<br> <br> The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else - no matter the cost.</p>
Maps on endpapers.
Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed. The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Europe is in turmoil as high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald. Then Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen and all of 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. Elizabeth knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Part of a brutally ambitious French family, Mary has been proclaimed the rightful ruler of England, with her own supporters scheming to get rid of the new queen.
Excerpt provided by Syndetics
<anon I1="BLANK" I2="BLANK">Prologue We hanged him in front of Kingsbridge Cathedral. It is the usual place for executions. After all, if you can't kill a man in front of God's face you probably shouldn't kill him at all. The sheriff brought him up from the dungeon below the guildhall, hands tied behind his back. He walked upright, his pale face defiant, fearless. The crowd jeered at him and cursed him. He seemed not to see them. But he saw me. Our eyes met, and in that momentary exchange of looks there was a lifetime. I was responsible for his death, and he knew it. I had been hunting him for decades. He was a bomber who would have killed half the rulers of our country, including most of the royal family, all in one act of bloodthirsty savagery--if I had not stopped him. I have spent my life tracking such would‑be murderers, and a lot of them have been executed--not just hanged but drawn and quartered, the more terrible death reserved for the worst offenders. Yes, I have done this many times: watched a man die knowing that I, more than anyone else, had brought him to his just but dreadful punishment. I did it for my country, which is dear to me; for my sovereign, whom I serve; and for something else, a principle, the belief that a person has the right to make up his own mind about God. He was the last of many men I sent to hell, but he made me think of the first . . . Excerpted from A Column of Fire by Ken Follett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.</anon>
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Follett returns to the fictional West Country town of Kingsbridge. It is 1558, and Mary Tudor is not long for this world. Her death unleashes a battle between Catholics and Protestants that dominates this novel, which is set primarily in England and France across five decades. Ned Willard, a moderate Protestant, battles the forces of religious extremism as he works as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I. John Rafter Lee brings a modulated, English-accented sensibility to this story. His character voices add extra vitality to the narration but don't overpower it. VERDICT Recommended for libraries with large historic fiction collections and listeners who like detailed historical narratives. ["Another masterly historical novel that will keep readers enthralled well past bedtime": LJ 7/17 starred review of the Viking hc.]-David -Faucheux, Lafayette, LA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Treasonous plots, family rifts, and international political intrigue abound in the third installment of Follett's (Pillars of the Earth) Kingsbridge series of historical dramas. In the middle of 16th-century England, Kingsbridge Cathedral stands above a town divided by religious conflict. Queen "Bloody Mary" Tudor is killing Protestants. When 18-year-old nobleman Ned Willard loses his sweetheart Margery and his family's importing business to Margery's upward-climbing Catholic family after the queen condemns them for being pro-Protestant, he decides to join Protestant Princess Elizabeth Tudor's secret service. Ned and Margery's love for each other sustains itself despite decades and miles apart, but can it survive their ideological differences? This sweeping epic delivers suspense, history, and romance in equally satisfying, if sometimes heavy-handed, measures. Follett makes use of multiple winding plotlines and optimistic characters equipped to see any battle through to the end. The novel is an immersive journey through the tumultuous world of 16th-century Europe and some of the bloodiest religious wars in history. Follett's sprawling novel is a fine mix of heart-pounding drama and erudite historicism. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Follett continues the best-selling Kingsbridge series with a fiery tale set in the latter half of the sixteenth century. As in Pillars of the Earth (1989) and World Without End (2007), the cathedral city of Kingsbridge serves as the unifying focal point for a saga that stretches across time and place. As a religious and political war rages across England, two would-be lovers are caught in the unforgiving crosshairs of historical circumstances that spin beyond their control. Fiercely in love with Margery Fitzgerald, Ned Willard finds himself on the the other side of a religious divide tearing friends, family, and the entire nation apart. As Catholics and Protestants square off against one another, a young but determined Elizabeth ascends to the throne, establishing the first royal secret service to protect herself from enemies both within and outside of England. Drawn into a web of espionage and intrigue, Ned is torn between loyalty to the crown and his unwavering love for a papist. As always, Follett excels in historical detailing, transporting readers back in time with another meaty historical blockbuster. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the first in the series skyrocketed by the Oprah Book Club pick and a TV series and followed by the megasuccess of the second and a long wait for the third, readers will be avid as ads run and Follett tours the country.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2017 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
A flying buttress of a book, continuing the hefty Kingsbridge saga historical novelist Follett began with Pillars of the Earth (1989) and World Without End (2007).It's not that Follett's been slacking between books: he's been working away at the Century Trilogy, set centuries later, and otherwise building on the legacy of high-minded potboilers he began with Eye of the Needle (1978). Here he delivers with a vengeance, with his Kingsbridge story, set in the shadow of a great provincial cathedral, now brought into the age of Elizabeth. Ned Willard, returning from the Continent on a boatload of "cloth from Antwerp and wine from Bordeaux," beats a hasty path through the snow and gloom to the lissome lass he's sweet on, Margery Fitzgerald. Her mom and dad are well-connected and powerfulbut, alas, Catholic, not the best choice of beliefs in an age when Tudor Protestantism is taking a vengeful turn and heads are rolling. Rollo, Margery's brother, turns out to offer good cause for suspicion; having twitted and tormented Ned over the course of the story, he's sailing with the Spanish by the end. But will Ned keep his head and Margery hers? Or, as Margery wonders lamentingly, "Had Ned caught Rollo, or not? Would the ceremony go ahead? Would Ned be there? Would they all die?" Ah, it is but to wonder. Follett guides his long, overstuffed story leisurely through the halls of Elizabethan history; here Bess herself turns up, while there he parades the likes of Walsingham, Francis Drake, and the whole of the Spanish Armada, even as Margery yearns, the tall masts burn, and Follett's characters churn out suspect ethnography: "Netherlanders did not seem to care much about titles, and they liked money." It's all a bit overwrought for what is, after all, a boy-loves-girl, boy-swashbuckles-to-win-girl yarn, but it's competently done. Follett's fans will know what to expectand they won't be disappointed. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.