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A Column of Fire

Narrated by: John Lee
Series: The Kingsbridge Novels, Book 3
Length: 12 hrs and 12 mins
Categories: Fiction, Historical
4 out of 5 stars (111 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number-one New York Times best-seller. 

“Absorbing...impossible to resist.” (The Washington Post)

As Europe erupts, can one young spy protect his queen? Number-one New York Times best-selling author Ken Follett takes us deep into the treacherous world of powerful monarchs, intrigue, murder, and treason with his magnificent new epic, A Column of Fire

A thrilling listen that makes the perfect gift for the holidays. 

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 conflict dividing 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. It will delight longtime fans of the Kingsbridge series and is the perfect introduction for listeners new to Ken Follett. 

©2017 Ken Follett (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Too Abridged

I did not notice that this was abridged. I always buy the unabridged. Had trouble following storyline. Feel like I wasted my credit.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

not as good as others

I did not like the way it would switch characters and storylines immediately after each other.

9 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Abridged? Ugh

Sorry you saw fit to sell an abridged version. Would have liked to have the whole story.

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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I did not realize was an abridgement

was reading the book and decided to listen while driving really upset to find out this was an abridgement

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Would you try another book from Ken Follett and/or John Lee?

I was so disappointed in this book. I loved the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett. I am not a huge fan of his early books as I think his writing is often too simplistic, but was hoping this would be more like the Century Trilogy. For the duration of the entire book, I was dissatisfied. I frequently lost track of who was who, and I also didn't like the narrator - he sometimes reads in a sing-song voice like a child who is made to read out loud in class and can't wait to be done, pausing at the wrong times and rushing at others. I felt like there were often gaps in the story that were simply too large, jumping over entire decades at time.

And then the penny dropped when I finished the book and the Audible voiceover came, saying "thank you for listening to the ABRIDGED version of Column of Fire!" I have never once listened to an abridged version of a book in my life - why would you want fewer words from an author you like? - and it simply hadn't occurred to me that that was an option when purchasing the book. I can now see that it is marked on the cover, but I hate the fact that it came up first in search results without more of a warning that it's abridged. I would never have bought it.

I am certain I would have given more stars for the unabridged version. But I still didn't like the narrator. He tried to sound "old English" like they might have spoken in Elizabethan times, but as I said earlier, he just didn't perform very well compared to other Audio books I've heard. I would recommend you go with the actual book version on this one instead of Audible, it's bound to be more satisfying.

Would you be willing to try another one of John Lee’s performances?

No. Hated him.

Any additional comments?

the word "abridged" needs to be much more prominent in your listing. If it was for me, you wouldn't even sell any abridged books at all. We are here to listen to books that we don't have time reading, but if I wanted an abridged version, I'd simply read a review of it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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interesting slice of history

The clash of Catholics and protestants through history has defined eras. Follett has captured one of these with a compelling tale.

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If you like history you can live in ...

You just can't miss with Ken Follett when he writes an historical novel. If it was a film they would call it a docudrama. So much of history is not known and this work is like filling in the blanks. The characters come alive and you can see for yourself Howe they lived. John Lee's narration is one of the best. You get to recognise characters male and female with accents and all. My only complaint is this is an abridged work. You couldn't tell from the depth of the story, but I just wondered what I missed out in knowing and experiencing.

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Another excellent Ken Follett novel!

I love the way that the author weaves history into his stories, where the characters bring to life to school-learned history facts.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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On Fire!

Again Ken Follett does not disappoint. Always factual historical fiction. I found the number of characters hard to keep track of and subsequently hard to stay on task reading the book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Book Without End

Interesting in its history, but lacks the central character story that made the first two books in the series so compelling.