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A Column of Fire

The Kingsbridge Novels, Book 3
Narrated by: John Lee
Series: The Kingsbridge Novels, Book 3
Length: 30 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4.5 out of 5 stars (143 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The saga that has enthralled the millions of fans of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire.

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.

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.

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.

©2016 Ken Follett (P)2016 Pan Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

What members say

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Educational and entertaining

For someone with only a vague grasp of the politics of England and Western Europe at this time, I enjoyed the historical backdrop to the story. I would understand people with good knowledge of this period being somewhat frustrated, but this book provided me a relaxed way to understand the background to what is the culture I inherited.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • emily
  • mount eliza, Australia
  • 11-12-18

Loved it

John Lee is a legend & the long awaited 3rd book was worth the wait! #religioustolerance #historical #europe #guyfawkes #tagsgiving #sweepstakes

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A1

Listened to this book every waking moment I had! Great story by Ken Follett and great storytelling by John Lee!

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Long awaited and ......greatly disappointing

Well known part of history with a few additional characters and a storyline without any real surprises or turns.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-30-17

Another masterpiece

I've loved all three books in this series and this one is the best yet. A great story, brilliantly told. Audiobook gold !

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Judith
  • 10-02-17

A great romp through history

I adored the previous books in this series and loved the detail about the cathedral and its building. This book takes us on and starts in the time of Queen Mary, Elizabeth and then King James. I love this period of history. There is great detail and explanation of how all the people and events linked together, told from a personal point of view of the characters. Narrator always excellent easy listening.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Steve
  • 10-19-17

A little let down

Firstly I am going to start by saying that this is a well written, well crafted Histofiction novel. I should also point out that the previous two Kingsbridge novels would always make my top ten list of favourites.

The issue I had with this book is that whilst the previous books were rooted deeply in Kingsbridge this one just seems to use it as a point of reference. The previous novels were as much about the growth and development of the settlement into a town as they were about the development of the main characters.This book aims to bring to life the much wider issues and events taking place during the time that the novel is set. By doing so it makes Kingsbridge into such an insignificant part that sadly for me this became just another (very good) histofiction book but not a Kingsbridge novel.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • David Dougans
  • 09-29-17

Another history lesson with a good story thrown in.

The book is absolutely captivating. Although a similar set up to the other two book it is more adventurous with its locations. Took a lot of driving to to finish this book.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen
  • 02-16-18

Good story

The narrations by John Lee are fantastic. He takes you on a journey through the story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Halfgirlhalfwotsit
  • 10-04-17

It's not 'Pillars of the Earth' - but close!

Having loved Pillars of the earth and subsequent A world without end, I was very excited to hear there was another Kingsbridge novel.
I'm not sure if it was the narrator that put me off? Maybe I should have read the book instead? but it just wasn't the same. Didn't ignite me as the previous books did?
Having said that, I still enjoyed this book and love the historical accuracies and drama of the era. The heroes and villains were there- but weaker versions of similar characters in both Pillars and World without end.
I would buy the next one he publishes anyway. His last trilogy was awesome!
I think it's just me? You can never read your favourite novel (a second or third time) and feel the same way you did when you turned the last page for the first time? For me that was 'The pillars of the earth' - that's just my opinion but essentially it's a great book! Buy it x

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Noel Lackey
  • 09-29-17

loved it more please

Was really looking forward to this book and it did not disappoint I can't wait for the next installment, make sure you read all the books in order you will not be disappointed

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • R. A. C.
  • 11-09-17

Ruined by the narrator

Having listened to dozens of audible books and enjoyed almost all of them I can say without hesitation that the narrator of this book is terrible. He seems to be reading it in a style more suited to a children’s book. I mentioned my disappointment to friends over a meal the other day and there was a chorus of agreement, we had all been so looking forward to the book only to be disappointed with the narrator. One chapter in and I have given up, I will buy the book and read it myself.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 04-07-18

Enjoyable and gripping historical fiction

I enjoyed this third part of the Kingsbridge series much more than the first part, which I thought a medieval soap opera populated by caricatures. I skipped part two but reading reviews of this third part gathered that it might be more to my taste and it was. It has far more historical content, albeit the very familiar Tudor period upon which many books and films have been based, but where this book scores is in bringing this turbulent period to life through the experiences of his fictional characters interacting with real people and events. The parallel stories of the fictional characters’ lives adds to the impact of the historical events. The recurring theme in this long saga is religious conflict and intolerance based on relatively small differences in doctrine leading to violence, cruelty and terrible suffering: all in the name of God!

Despite the outcomes being known, I was gripped by the author’s pacy reenactments of historical event such as the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre of protestants in Paris, the aborted invasion of the Spanish Armada and the Gun Powder Plot. Maybe to ease the endless stream of Man’s inhumanity to Man (and often Women) the author indulges in his penchant for raunchy sex scenes and lascivious descriptions of women’s bodies, particularly their breasts: a recurring theme in the author’s books.

Contrary to the views of some other reviewers I think the narrator is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 02-19-18

Hard to follow

If it wasn't for the narrator I wouldn't finish it. Too many characters, too fast moving and hard to follow. Very different from the two previous books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Lauren Nelson
  • 10-11-17

Wonderful immersion in history.

Follett has done it again. A true master story teller with wonderful fictional characters woven into the lives of historic characters and epic events in history. Fabulous!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • kevinplee@hotmail.com
  • 10-09-17

What was real ?

Ken Follet has produced another masterpiece where real historical figures and events are interwoven so well I am left asking what was really real and what was the fiction. This third book also carries the stories from both of the first two books through this hostory/fiction tapestry.
This third book also came out of nowhere. After the first book I needed to know what happened next which the second book delivered. After the second I also wanted more but didn't know how the author could do it ...it was a long time but he did and it was good fortune to come across it. Surely though, even a master like Ken Follet can't take this further? Historical fiction has suited you well though Ken, perhaps you could apply your talent to a new book series ?

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • ben
  • 10-06-17

great

a great story . fantastic narrative a great finish to the world of Kingsbridge cathedral.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Radu Enache
  • 10-04-17

Excellent historical fiction

I really liked this book, it was a great addition to the trilogy. It feels quite different from the first two books as it is follows events from all over western Europe, while the first two are mostly set in Kingsbridge. Another difference is that this one reads a lot like a spy novel, with the central characters having a lot of influence over key political figures from history. This is not a detriment to the story however, as Ken is very experienced writing spy novels and I was engaged in the plot from start to finish. Once again the cast of characters is well fleshed out, with a great mix of fictional point of view characters and real historical figures. Seeing these characters experience key events in history was a pleasure, as always.

John Lee does a great job narrating, as he did for the first two books. This is the most demanding performance due to the varied accents of the characters but Lee does not skip a beat and embodies each character effortlessly.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • RayNorris
  • 11-09-17

What a disappointment

I love ken follets’s writing, but the reader is terrible. Why on earth would audible employ someone reading it so mechanically, with no interpretation or feeling? I wondered if it was an AI algorithm, but apparently it is actually a human being. But I don’t think he took any notice of the words he was reading, and his inflections didn’t match the text. This was a total waste of money, I can’t stand listening to him any longer, and I guess I have to buy the book rather than an audible book.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Paddington
  • 02-17-18

Worth finishing this trilogy

I am glad I finished this trilogy and it was entertaining but it drifted off the theme of the first two. I like those ones better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Peter
  • 02-08-18

Another Follett Blockbuster

My only negative about this latest book is the sense of loss when it finished! Love the characters and the intertwined plots. Above all what a fabulous way to brush up on European history. John Lee is an excellent narrator and does superb justice to Follett’s characters. Overall a superb book - I probably might have enjoyed the two previous Kingsbridge books slightly more but that has not detracted from my thorough enjoyment of this book. Ken Follett sets a high standard. Thank you!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • dal
  • 10-27-17

Not kingsbridge

A great book, but it really is a stand alone book. The first two interlocked with each other and were based in and around the happenings of Kingsbridge, in this great novel kingsbridge has no real meaning, it's a place characters go sometimes, other than that it plays no part.
I love Follett and have never been disappointed in any of his books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dale Morrell
  • 09-05-19

Outstanding

Just outstanding. Engaging well researched and thoroughly entertaining. Similar dynastic span as his other works and all the better for that similarity. Engagingly performed by the narrator

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-31-19

Book 3 - Just as good as Books 1 and 2

Although this one moves away from Kingsbridge mostly - it is still a great historical fiction - the author is able to keep a good paced story keeping you engaged and leaving you HOPING for a Book 4 in the series.
The narrator is also great