A Column of Fire

A Column of Fire

Book - 2017
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"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, royalty and commoners clash, testing 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 to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents"--
Publisher: New York, New York : Viking, [2017]
ISBN: 9780525954972
052595497X
Branch Call Number: FIC FOLLETT 2017
Characteristics: 916 pages : map ; 25 cm

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r
richmole
Jun 20, 2018

This is a really bad book. It's shocking, actually, when you consider that the author--much earlier in his career--had so many very good books: Man From St. Petersburg, Lie Down with Lions, Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca. Decades later, I still remember these.

More recently, Follett began to write big, sweeping historical sagas. The Century Trilogy was passably good; the first two entries of the Kingsbridge trilogy--Pillars of the Earth, World without end, even better.

Now, after a lapse of 10 years, Follett's given us (burdened us, more like it) this book, the third in the Kingsbridge trilogy, although, set hundreds of years later, there is nothing that connects this work with the previous two except the setting. Believe me, it's not enough.

Also different: the quality of the writing. This is dreck. Overwritten--at close to a thousand pages-- (and I suspect, under-edited) this novel is often unintentionally, side-splitting funny. Sorry fans, I can't help it. One and two-dimensional characters--and far too many of them--and a basic plot that is merely mildly interesting instead of "gripping", the word you can use justifiably for many of his most recent works. I mean, the religious idiocy of the late Middle Ages is just not in the same league.

It's a slog. Also a shame.

m
Memawrayne
Jun 05, 2018

A great third book in The Kingsbridge series. A lot of history that reminds readers how awful intolerance is. I had recently read a book about religious terrorism and learned that more 'Christians died at the hands of other Christians that with any other religion even Islam. Sadly the book had been marked up with underlining in the beginning and end of the book. I gather this reader was not intelligent enough to read the whole book but thought nothing of this vandalism being ok.

u
USAF1969
Apr 18, 2018

I have read all of Ken Follett's books and liked them all a lot. With PILLARS OF THE EARTH though, he took a major leap forward in writing historical fiction. Now with his third book in the Kingsbridge series, A COLUMN OF FIRE, he has once again proven masterful at blending fact and fiction. This book, covers the years 1558 to 1620 in England (mostly, but France, Spain, Scotland and the Netherlands thrown in) and deals with the vicious fight between ultra-Catholics and ultra-Protestants for religious supremacy with much of the story including characters who tried to make religious tolerance a viable alternative. It includes many key historical events, including the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the reigns of a number of monarchs in various countries. I enjoyed it thoroughly. He is clearly at the top of his game and a peer, at the very least, of other the great historical fiction writers, including Bernard Cornwell. Well done. Enjoy.

Comment below by J were my thoughts exactly. Difficult to add a new twist to such a well known story, I wish he had taken a smaller bite of history and gone into more depth but still a great read.

j
JEM_LPL
Mar 27, 2018

"A Column Of Fire" lacks the rich character depth and detail of his first two installements. Then again, he has a lot of ground to cover; no less than nine characters in at least three different countries over the course of fifty years. It's a good read, but I often feel like I'm trying to sight see from the back of a getaway car.

n
njon38
Jan 07, 2018

Ken Follet delivers again. This is a novel of the religious wars in Europe before, after and during the reign of Elizabeth 1.

k
ktkdouglascounty
Dec 31, 2017

Not one of Follett's best. However, if you can wade thru the first 100 pages or so, you will again find his story telling abilities.

s
Sheila1975
Dec 26, 2017

Fabulous book and superbly written! A long saga, but it moves so well, covering all aspects of the past centuries of turmoil in the Protestant and Catholic religions and the conflict of families. Great descriptions of the lands, the culture, and of course, the people and the difficulties faced in early times.
A Super read, for sure!!!!! Recommend it highly !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

e
elos
Dec 02, 2017

Well it took a long time for Follett to get this written and published, but it's here and it's great. It was exactly what I was hoping for and expecting from this author.

AL_KATHRYN Nov 26, 2017

This is book number three in the Kingsbridge series. I enjoyed the book, but in covering 50 years of divisive English history I think the author was covering too long of a period of history in one book. There is a whipsaw feeling to this book, "We're protestant! No, we're Catholic!" Which can be disconcerting. I think the author would have been better off turning the subject into two books

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cknightkc
Oct 18, 2017

“When a man is certain that he knows God’s will, and is resolved to do it regardless of the cost, he is the most dangerous person in the world.” - p. 200

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