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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.

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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.

0 of 1 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 !

6 of 6 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.

4 of 4 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.

4 of 4 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

3 of 3 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.

3 of 3 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.

2 of 2 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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  • ms
  • 10-10-17

Brilliant

Another fabulous tale with loads of history believable characters and a story line with heart on to the next one....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • EF
  • 10-04-17

a long dive into history

I enjoyed this book and seeing a key part of history imagined through the eyes of ordinary folks. Put real flesh on the sometimes dry historical bones.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mary Carnegie
  • 09-27-17

It ain’t necessarily so!

If you want to know who committed all the unsolved crimes in history, look no further than Kingsbridge. The descendants of people we met in the first two volumes are let out on the wider world to behave as if they were clones of their antecedents, as if being a baddie were inevitable- biology as destiny!
Jon Lee struggles with the narration, can’t manage accents or pronounce French, makes most women in the early chapters sound inordinately snooty - time for a revolution maybe not just a reformation.
This historical period has already been done to death in fiction, film and TV. I had hoped for something new(ish) with mentions of Edinburgh and Geneva in the blurb, but I should have known better, given that the main male character was misnamed...
Follett has limited (and prejudiced) understanding of theology and perpetuates every calumny of that age, unless it applies to Anglicans! Catholics and Protestants keep your cool as you listen.
It turns out that Kingsbridgers are responsible for all the unsolved crimes of the age (except those carried out by Pierre, bastard son of a bastard priest fathered by a “nobleman” - that’s his “excuse”!)
Jack the Ripper, JFK, Archduke Franz Ferdinand - Kingsbridgers are in the frame!
This is written for the US market, with no concession to UK listeners. (The narration is decidedly mid-Atlantic.)
As if it’s not bad enough being told Carlisle and Newcastle are (were, actually) in northern England or that Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle are (“were”) in Edinburgh, there’s that patronising postscript where he says he’s often asked which of his characters are real and which invented. There’s a list - Mary, Queen of Scots, Mary I and Elizabeth I of England, James VI & I, Walsingham, the Cecils and Guy Fawkes did exist, along with Philip of Spain, François II and the Guises, la Reine Margot, Coligny, whose murder triggered the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (Lord have mercy!) Admittedly this part of French history may be less well known to Anglophones, though it’s been well covered in film, though generally misrepresented as a result of the novel by Alexandre Dumas père. Follett does attribute ultimate blame differently from Dumas, but I suspect that’s more in the interests of his own plot, and increasing the list of crimes of his characters, than of historical accuracy.
There are few people to like, although the women are usually more sympathetic. The most decent men are in the “supporting cast”.
Naturally in any book set in this period there have to be horrific martyrdoms, but it seems to Follett that Elizabeth I didn’t really want to kill people.... She did execute almost as many folk as her half-sister “Bloody” Mary I. Follett admits in one sentence, only to affirm that Elizabeth I didn’t kill anyone for their religious beliefs. They were executed for “treason” and it’s only a coincidence that most were Catholic!
That’s the casuistry that later, talks of collateral damage, friendly fire and extraordinary rendition.

I do wish he’d lay off the violent sex scenes. Sex, chez Follett, is either blissful or revoltingly aggressive.

It wasn’t bad, certainly eventful. Nothing important could happen in Northern Europe, it would appear, without a Kingsbridger popping up to make history happen.

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!

3 of 3 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 ?

2 of 2 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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  • Deborah
  • 12-03-17

Another outstanding work by Follett.

Could hardly wait to press play every morning on the way to work, or on the way home. Love it!

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  • book lover
  • 11-21-17

Excellent book and well read.

A wonderful, detailed and enlightening window on history.
A great read with accents and all by John Lee.

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  • Richard
  • 11-17-17

Too long for an audiobook

Although very well written and researched, this book is too long for an audiobook. It would be much better read than hearing it.

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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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-06-17

Historical at its best.

Loved this book, infact the whole series. Will someone please recommend a similar series. Please Mr. Follett, more like this.

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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.