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A Column of Fire Audiobook

A Column of Fire

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Publisher's Summary

International best-selling author Ken Follett has enthralled millions of fans with the first two books of his Kingsbridge series, The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. The saga now continues with Follett's magnificent new epic, A Column of Fire.

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.

©2017 Ken Follett (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (1558 )
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  •  
    James 09-15-17
    James 09-15-17
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    "Just like the first two..."

    I have no idea how this ended up with such a low score here. It gets a 4.29 on Goodreads right now, and I cannot imagine the low score is John Lee's fault!

    If you loved the other two then you will love this one.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
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    Amazon Customer 09-16-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Wonderful!!"

    Another wonderful book by Ken Follett and narrated by John Lee. If you liked The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, then you'll LOVE A Column of Fire!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Emily Pulley 09-15-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Maybe his best one yet!"

    And John Lee is terrific, as always. I loved the creative backstories for familiar events.

    14 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    070316 09-13-17
    070316 09-13-17 Member Since 2017
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    "WONDERFUL--As Good as Pillars of the Earth!"
    Any additional comments?

    I bought this book as soon as I woke up this morning--been waiting anxiously for it for weeks! I have been listening all day, I'm about halfway through and am just enjoying it immensely. Ken Follett brings the everyday lives of everyday people in the period to vivid life. Ned and Margery are real to me, as are Carlos, Barney, Father Alfonso the Inquisitor (shudder) and all the others and yay...we even have a stupid brutal thug as the Earl of Shiring. Pillars of the Earth was one of my four favorite books of all time (the others being River God, Polar Star and Sailing to Sarantium). I've read and listened to 'Pillars' at least half a dozen times. I'm certain this book will now be added to that list.John Lee is one of my all-time favorite narrators (the other being Simon Vance). I love his work--I always start out a book narrated by him listening to and enjoying the slight hint of a Sean Connery accent, but then soon forget I'm even hearing a narrator's voice at all, I'm just...there,in the story, a part of the crowd listening to the people talking and watching them as they struggle, fight, love, make mistakes and sometimes, die.One funny little anachronism in this story, totally the fault of the editor, but it made me laugh. King Henry VIII's daughter, Mary, is on the throne. A fanatic Catholic, she is burning Protestants and other heretics by the thousands. Religious 'thought police' are everywhere, ordinary people extremely careful in everything they say and do publicly, for fear their neighbors will inform on them. We see a 15 year old girl, daughter of a book printer of subversive Protestant teachings, in the marketplace, she meets a handsome young man and later thinks of him as a 'dreamboat.' Ummm? Seriously, Mr. or Ms. Editor? Teenaged girls in the 1540s thought of handsome young men as...dreamboats? haha, just made me laugh, but didn't diminish the story for me, at all.If you loved Pillars of the Earth, you will love Column of Fire. That is all.

    70 of 89 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tokeyna 09-17-17
    Tokeyna 09-17-17 Member Since 2015
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    "I expected more"

    The first book gripped me right away. I was an instant fan. The violence and cruelty made me dislike the author for all the misfortune and loss the characters suffered at the hands of greedy b@stards.
    Pillars made me smile, made me laugh and made me cry. The book was a roller coaster of emotions. I felt like I truly knew and loved these people.
    The second book was just as good, but lost a little of the cruelty and detail that made me so horrified by the first. I was peachy with that.
    This last book, although also very good, is just not as gripping as the first or second. I love all the little references to the original book, but the evil plots are not near as sinister as before.

    If I had read this book first, I would love it even more. It's a fantastic book. The things that made me dislike the author, hate even, in the first book are what made the book so hard to put down. I just wish he could have kept that same momentum going.

    I recently read another book series about a time traveling witch and a vampire, that spend some time in the Elizabethen era, and comparing some of the charachters, such as Lord Umberland, some of the spies, and the Queen herself was a fun little bonus!!

    That's all, I hope you enjoy the book!

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J.B. 09-20-17
    J.B. 09-20-17
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    "Protestants, Catholics and the Formation of Europe"

    A Column of Fire, written by, Ken Follett, and read by John Lee. This story is not the story of the city of Kingsbridge, and its cathedral, as the earlier parts of the publication series, "The Pillars of the Earth," which all anchored in the town and its Cathedral. The elemental characters come from Kingsbridge, but this journey takes place in England, Scotland, Spain, France and the Netherlands. Like its predecessor volumes, it is the story of the political era; and the era in question here is the background to the Thirty Years Wars. Those wars concerned the effort of princes and kings to coalesce the European map into powerful realms. The usual subject of the fighting was alleged to be for dominance between Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and Calvinism. This resulted in a Gordian tangle of alliances as princes and prelates maneuvered for positioning as Europe coalesced into statehood.

    The times which set the backdrop for the story begins about 1525 through 1620. (Whereas the true Thirty Years Wars took place from 1618 through 1648.) As in the earlier models, we follow the individual human stories of our cast of characters as they face the Reformation and its effects on control of the European kingdoms of that time. The Christian abyss that existed after Martin Luther’s times and teachings are the basis for the conflicts, that fuel the story. The lead character, Ned Willard, is an intelligence agent for Queen Elizabeth. So, Mr. Follett takes us back to his wheelhouse of spy and international intrigue novels.

    The central theme is how England settled itself into being a (somewhat) religiously tolerant state, albeit strongly preferring Protestantism. Is the story good. Well, yes. Not as good as the first three books but not bad by any stretch of the imagination. Follett has this unique ability (as does his writing competitor, Frederick Forsyth, The Day of the Jackal, etc.) to load one down with engineering facts that become an exciting learning experience. His story, is forwarding, meaning we always have added to the plot new elements added that entice you to read on to see how these new issues play out against the other story facts. One does get somewhat attached to his characters, but in this particular story, I think Follett has not made alluring subjects. Nor does the story have its usual; bang.

    Nevertheless, recommend, as it is good and very engaging as to its teaching of the Catholic Protestant wars of the 1520s to the 1600 hundreds, and beyond and the weaknesses of the monarchs of the times.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George BrooklyN, NY United States 09-15-17
    George BrooklyN, NY United States 09-15-17 Member Since 2012
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    "A Good story with more international intrigue"
    Where does A Column of Fire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    the story is more international than the previous 2 of the Kingsbridge trilogy. it involves a wider area and gives a little history lesson about religious wars


    What did you like best about this story?

    the historical background


    If you could take any character from A Column of Fire out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    Marjorie because of her intriguing background/development


    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    leighda 09-16-17
    leighda 09-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "very familiar."

    same story different people. I had high hopes but it seems he only really knows one story with different details. The story is based on true events surrounding queen Elizabeth so
    being a bit if a history buff the story had no suspense. if you know what happend then then you know this story. add in a few fictional cherecters, a bad guy and an out of reach love and there ya go.
    to much like previous books of Follett.
    if you don't know what happend with Queen Elizabeth and have not read previous Follett books then it's probably a great book.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cecilia, NY, NY 09-15-17
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    "The master epic story teller is back!"
    Would you listen to A Column of Fire again? Why?

    Yes. 30 plus hours listening to the book was effortless, captivating and enrapturing. I would definitely listen to it again beginning with the book 1.


    What about John Lee’s performance did you like?

    It is needless to review John Lee’s performance except to say that it is nonpareil and he is in a class of his own.


    Any additional comments?

    Ken Follett is indeed a master builder of the present day literary cathedral. I appreciate how he wove his story against the historical background depicting the human nature, which seems to remain constant throughout the history of the mankind with greed and fear as well as evil and good. This book has left me hungry for more. I hope Mr. Follett has already garnered his stones to build his next story, and present us with another magnificent one soon.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ellen COLCHESTER, CT, United States 10-17-17
    Ellen COLCHESTER, CT, United States 10-17-17 Member Since 2010
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    "Love Ken Follet’s Historical Novels"

    I listened to the first two books in the series and this one was just as good! The narrator is perfect and the book moves at a good pace. Hopefully there will be another one before too long!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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