A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)
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.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.

A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3) Details

TitleA Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3)
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 12th, 2017
PublisherViking
ISBN-139780525954972
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction

A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge, #3) Review

  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    I've had a whole month and 900+ pages to think about it-- and I just didn't enjoy A Column of Fire as much as The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I think I know why, and I'll get to that in a second, but I'd first like to say that this isn't a bad book. I happily read right through to the end without feeling like it was a chore to finish. Some of Follett's tried and tested formula is present here - namely, a central starcrossed romance and despicable villains - which keeps the pages I've had a whole month and 900+ pages to think about it-- and I just didn't enjoy A Column of Fire as much as The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I think I know why, and I'll get to that in a second, but I'd first like to say that this isn't a bad book. I happily read right through to the end without feeling like it was a chore to finish. Some of Follett's tried and tested formula is present here - namely, a central starcrossed romance and despicable villains - which keeps the pages turning, but I think this book overall is a move away from a style I really enjoyed in the previous books.This book didn't focus in-depth on the lives of the Kingsbridge citizens. Instead, I felt like it was hardly about Kingsbridge at all, but rather about the entire world at this time, and the wider struggles between Catholics and Protestants. Perhaps it is because, by this time, sea travel and exploration was much more common, but the effect was that I cared less about the individual characters; I felt less pulled into the nitty gritty of their everyday lives.A Column of Fire operates on a bigger scale and with a wider scope than its predecessors. Larger political and religious battles dominate the narrative at the expense of characterisation. More scope, less depth. At times, it felt almost like an overview of history at this point and it's a history lesson that every British schoolchild learns early. Where The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End focused on chapters of the Middle Ages that were foreign to me, I can quickly name every single Tudor monarch, every wife of Henry VIII, and tell you about the religious struggles, even details such as what happened to Margaret Clitherow. And the gunpowder plot? We still light bonfires and fireworks and eat toffee apples every fifth of November in remembrance.In order for this book to work better on such an oft-explored area of history, it needed to go deeper into Kingsbridge and the characters' lives. The romance needed to be more exciting, more tragic, more like that of Aliena and Jack or Caris and Merthin. Ned and Margery lacked passion. I didn't get a sense that they were fighting to be together, or that they were particularly disheartened when circumstances tore them apart. This series has always seemed, to me, to be first and foremost about the characters. Their, lives, loves, tragedies and heartbreak. The politics happening in the background offered the stage on which the character drama played out, but it was not what the books were about. Here, it was. And I simply didn't love/hate the characters I was supposed to love/hate as much as I was supposed to love/hate them.Oh, and for some reason, there was also a strange use of modern terminology in this book that I never noticed in The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. I read them both fairly recently so I don't think I'm just forgetting. Things like the use of "creepy" (I checked and this is used roughly 200 years too soon) and Ned uses the very modern phrase "hell yes". There were other examples I didn't note down. Perhaps this book just needed a few more rounds of editing.Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
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  • Bookdragon Sean
    January 1, 1970
    I didn’t want to write this review, I’ve been weighing it up for a few days, but this book is so far removed from the previous two books that a negative review is unavoidable. A Column of Fire is way too short and way too predictable, which is a sort of odd comment to make about a book over 750 pages long with a huge cast of characters. But let me explain. Ken Follet is at his best when he writes massive historical yarns. He mixes the political and social issues of the age with the lives of some I didn’t want to write this review, I’ve been weighing it up for a few days, but this book is so far removed from the previous two books that a negative review is unavoidable. A Column of Fire is way too short and way too predictable, which is a sort of odd comment to make about a book over 750 pages long with a huge cast of characters. But let me explain. Ken Follet is at his best when he writes massive historical yarns. He mixes the political and social issues of the age with the lives of some very real people, people who could have existed within the eras in which he writes. And he did that here, at least, in part. The Willards and The Fitzgeralds fortunes rose and fell with the Catholic and Protestant rivalry, which came to a climax when Elizabeth I took England’s throne. Though I think this book’s greatest downfall is its sheer lack of depth and sense of crisis throughout. I just didn’t care about the citizens of Kingsbridge this time round. Let’s rewind and compare it to The Pillars of the Earth. After every major section of the novel, something big happened. The Kingsbridge market was attacked by William Hamleigh (twice) the church roof collapsed, Tom Builder had to abandon his child and Prior Phillip found himself at the King’s mercy in France. The same sense of crisis was also apparent in The World Without End. With this book there was no real sense of danger for anyone (that I was made to feel for.) So it lacked the drama that made the previous two instalments so damn exciting. I found myself not caring at all about most of these characters or their lives for that matter. I didn’t know enough about them and when the story started moving they were never really built upon. Rollo Fitzgerald was awkwardly absent for large parts of the novel after initially being set up as a very important character. There were large transition periods between the characters’ lives that we seemed to miss and the story never fully came together as it needed to. Moreover, and most significantly, there was no sense of Kingsbridge community spirit. So that meant when danger did hit Kingsbridge, I yawned. The romance was weakFollet’s books are always driven by romance, and this one was no different. But, again, this was a let-down. In this case the initial few chapters on it were perfectly fine; it was set-up as you’d expect it to be. However, the aftermath was somewhat tepid. Where was the longing? Where was the heart wrenching emptiness when the lovers were separated? Sure, it was touched upon; though I think much more was needed to cement the mutual feelings. If this was Jack and Aliana or Merthin and Carris, then all parties concerned would have been beside themselves in agony. Ned and Margery seemed to suck it up and get on with their lives all too easily. And their ending was far too predictable at this stage. I needed so much more for this to work. Do I think A Column of Fire could have been a good novel? Most certainly. It needed more editing. It needed to be padded out and certain sections expanded upon and revised. All in all, what I think A Column of Fire needed most of all was time, time to grow and become the story it ought to have been. I feel like I’ve just read an early draft of a potentially great novel, most dissapointing indeed.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    My love affair with Follett goes as far back as 13 years, when I was first enraptured by Eye of the Needle. Since then, you've tucked me into bed several nights with your fabulous stories of espionage, romance, historical fiction, and oh so much more.This series makes me sigh as It wraps around me much like a caterpillar In a cocoon. It is fabulously rich in character and plot development and leaves me longing for the next big book you write -especially during the 16th century. I loved The Pilla My love affair with Follett goes as far back as 13 years, when I was first enraptured by Eye of the Needle. Since then, you've tucked me into bed several nights with your fabulous stories of espionage, romance, historical fiction, and oh so much more.This series makes me sigh as It wraps around me much like a caterpillar In a cocoon. It is fabulously rich in character and plot development and leaves me longing for the next big book you write -especially during the 16th century. I loved The Pillars of the Earthand World Without End. This one is just as magical.I won't say much about the storyline - just know If you want to be hypnotized and mesmerized by some wicked historical fiction, Follett is the Man. He is a master at crafting a story with all of its elements of characters, love, relationships, politics, religion/heretics and packaging it up in an epic sized story that will light you up like a A Column of Fire.And so my love affair continues as I wipe off my drool from having just kissed this book with a whole lot Of ❤️
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  • James
    January 1, 1970
    I've reviewed ~575 books in the last few years and don't often give out 5 stars. I can be a bit stingy as I want the book to just completely knock me over. Ken Follett is one of few authors who consistently impress, excite, and satisfy this thirst. The Pillars of the Earth came very close. World Without End hit the mark and is one of my top 5 all-time favorite books. In the third book in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire, I am again thoroughly exhilarated and awarding 5 stars. I do think I've reviewed ~575 books in the last few years and don't often give out 5 stars. I can be a bit stingy as I want the book to just completely knock me over. Ken Follett is one of few authors who consistently impress, excite, and satisfy this thirst. The Pillars of the Earth came very close. World Without End hit the mark and is one of my top 5 all-time favorite books. In the third book in the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire, I am again thoroughly exhilarated and awarding 5 stars. I do think World Without End is slightly better, but this was superb on so many levels. I'm doubly blessed as I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway and my blog followers selected it as my April 2018 Book Bucket List read. It was also a buddy read with a wonderful friend.At the outset, this is a book covering the impact on several families and towns throughout Europe during the religious wars in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. From Spain to Europe, Scotland to England, and even parts of Africa and the Caribbean, this book tracks the various changing of the guard under Henry VIII's daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, as well as other claimants to the throne, Mary of Scots and James I. Some are Catholic. Some are Protestant. Who will win? History knows, and many readers familiar with these facts know. But it doesn't spoil the beauty of this absolutely stunning series of novels by Follett. He's crafted an amazing set of towns, families, bonds and rivalries over a period of 60 years in this particular third novel where the tides turn every 5 to 10 years, or every 100 to 200 pages (yes, it's nearly 1000 pages long). Your heart breaks. Your eyes bulge. People could be horrible. They could be kind. Persecution in the name of religion truly happened, and while some find this book taking advantage of history to present drama... my response is basically -- Umm... yeah, it's historical fiction and that's the point. If you want a 100% accurate book, go read a non-fiction account.With a tome of this length, my review could go on forever. I plan to keep it shorter than that. Ned Willard is the protagonist, and the novel follows his life from a teenager to a 70-year-old man through which time he has many lovers, wives, friends, and family. He is one of the most respectable characters I've ever met in a book, and while he certainly does a few things that I'd consider wrong by today's standards, he was a visionary nearly 500 years ago. His treatment of others despite their beliefs, gender, race, or status were fantastic. He acted the act when he needed to but always to achieve a goal to ultimately help people. And he suffered... more than any man should.If you've never read Follett before, you are truly missing out. If you've not read this 3-book series, you are missing out. It's nearly 3,000 pages in total, but you don't have to read all 3. You can choose just one and read them out of order. They're set about 100 years apart, so you may miss a few details and connections, but nothing to throw you off. I'm going to be in a book daze for weeks. And maybe years since I don't expect him to write another one in the series, but if he does, it will be at least 5 years based on the last few. This makes me sad. But I can always re-read them. And I will. They are that good. Seriously... who chooses to re-read 3000 pages again?Huge amounts of plot and drama. Sometimes you'll think "that's just too much" but truly.... much of this ACTUALLY happened. It may have been different characters or a slightly different order. But people were cruel back then. They killed for no reason. Religion was a mega prompt for doing bad things. (Hey, wait, that happens today, too...). So in theory, this is such a statement about people and life and the lessons we fail to learn century after century. But for the most part, I look at this as a way to step into a different world, one that fascinates me. I forget any true facts I know about the life of these monarchs and pretend it's all new to me. It makes me smile. I rush to the book each night to devour more pages. And I gush... because this was a buddy read with my friend Noriko in Japan. I can't wait to catch up with her about this again!I'll end here not because I am out of things to say, but because I have so many more books to read. And I'd rather chat about it than extend my review. So if you've read it, message me. Would love to discuss Follett with ya!
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    Ken Follett again took a lengthy hiatus before penning this third novel in the series, which is reflected in the writing and shall be discussed below. Kingsbridge, with its cathedral and mighty bridge, again proves to be the initial backdrop of this thoroughly researched tome, set in the 16th century. The great community emerges in the opening pages of the novel, where the reader encounters Ned Willard, returning after a period away. As the snow falls, causing the great Cathedral to disappear, t Ken Follett again took a lengthy hiatus before penning this third novel in the series, which is reflected in the writing and shall be discussed below. Kingsbridge, with its cathedral and mighty bridge, again proves to be the initial backdrop of this thoroughly researched tome, set in the 16th century. The great community emerges in the opening pages of the novel, where the reader encounters Ned Willard, returning after a period away. As the snow falls, causing the great Cathedral to disappear, the symbolism of quick changes becomes apparent. However, there is more brewing in Kingsbridge and England as a whole, which pushes the narrative into a fiery discussion soon enough. Queen Mary Tudor is on the throne and has turned the country back to its Catholic foundation, which is causing some concerns amongst her subjects. Forced to flee Catholicism under Henry VIII, people took up with the new Church of England and sought to pave the way for Protestantism in the country. Kingsbridge monastery, so important in the first two novels, lost its firmament under the King and the monks were dispersed. However, as Queen Mary appears to be terminally ill, there is talk of the succession. Two camps emerge: those wanting continued Catholicism turn to Mary, Queen of Scots (and France); and those who seek to lessen the constraints of religious conformity turn to Princess Elizabeth Tudor, half-sister to the current queen. The battle lines are drawn and the choice turns the country against itself. Ned finds himself in an odd position as he witnesses this and takes up a post with the Elizabethan camp, only to become one of her most trusted advisors. Plots to kill Elizabeth emerge alongside attempts to get Scottish Mary to return to the land of her birth to claim what some feel will rightfully be hers. When the Queen dies, it is left to Parliament to make the choice, which Follett illustrates as being highly controversial and problematic, but Elizabeth soon ascends reigns as the first of her name. The new Queen riles up everyone by seeking tolerance and acceptance of any form of Christianity in England, choosing not to side with either Protestants or Catholics wholeheartedly. What follows is a collection of stories that emerge throughout Europe, using a handful of characters who illustrate the religious persecution of both Protestants and Catholics, using the Pope and various monarchs to play Christian chess with their subjects as they shed blood to see their branch of the religion succeed. Ned is placed in a position to not only try to win back the love of his life, but to accept fate and try to reinvent himself, while England is being torn apart. Follett illustrates this battle over decades, while the characters evolve but still have time to prove as scandalous as ever (what would a Kingsbridge novel be without some drama?!). By the end, Follett has shown that religious intolerance is by no means a new thing in the world, but that it can be traced back centuries, where ‘soldiers’ were blinded to acceptance and sought to outmanoeuvre their labelled enemies. A sensational addition to the Kingsbridge series, though it does not entirely fit with the other two novels. Fans of historical fiction will surely love this tome, alongside the most open-minded and ‘tolerant’ Kingsbridge series fans. Patience is a must before tackling this novel, so be wary if you seek a quick story and easy to decipher characters.When I read the preface to Pillars of the Earth, I learned that Follett was not entirely comfortable with the subject matter when he first wrote that book. He knew little of the religious nuances of the Church, but has shown that age and dedication to research have changed his abilities. While I have some issues with this book, I cannot deny that the research and thoroughly intricate cast of characters make this one a must read for dedicated readers and fans of history. Follett is again forced to use scores of characters to flesh out the story, some pulled from the history books and others completely of his own imagination. As with the previous two books, occupations are varied, as are the social standings of those who grace the pages of this book. However, the characters from history dominate and thereby lead the story, forcing the ‘nobody’ characters to fall into line. There is still a thread of love, romance, rape, and deception, but it proves to be a garnish in a larger story that speaks of intolerance at a time when religion in Europe was (d)evolving. The dedicated reader will surely find a few characters onto whom they can latch and find some solace, though there are an equal number who can be hated for their actions. The story of this novel is well developed and presented in a methodical way, such that the reader can see not only the issue at the core of the story, but its fermentation over the decades. This leads me to my primary issue with the book, which is that it does not fit nicely into how Pillars and World Without End places Kingsbridge at the centre. There is action in Kingsbridge and the Cathedral does bear mention on occasion, but a great deal of the story takes place elsewhere, which lessens the impact of the community that readers have come to love. For Follett fans, the influence of his recently completed Century series is blunt in this narrative and plot development. Follett develops mini-stories throughout Europe, presenting characters who exemplify the religious issues in Spain and France, as well as in England, the attentive reader will remember such ‘branch-offs’ over the aforementioned trilogy. The reader learns of these struggles and waits to see how the numerous spheres will come together and eventually meld into a single storyline. While I am not a professional author, I might suggest that Kingsbridge have remained the central focus of the story and Follett show how this continental war and numerous assassination attempts on the country’s monarch affected the locals. Alas, that was lost and Ned Willard, a Kingsbridgean, is the major glue that binds the story to being a part of this other trilogy. With numerous monarchs who flex their muscle throughout to show how Catholicism is the only way, I can easily find justification to have this work for my reading challenge and I can only hope that others will find the thread of my argument and agree. While I found this to be the weakest of the three novels in the series, I still enjoyed it a great deal. I would recommend it to those who have made their way through the others two, in hopes that they will find as much enjoyment in the historical references as I did.Kudos, Mr. Follett, for such a stellar piece of historical fiction. Some of those threads you left blowing in the wind might make for an interesting fourth novel, though I am not pushing for another round, unless you’re eager to return to Kingsbridge proper.This book fulfills Equinox I (A Book for All Seasons) Book Challenge for Topic #3: A Book About Royalty Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    [email protected]%*+?!G!!!!!! Okay, please don't hate me for doing this in the review box, but just found out there's a third book in the "TPOTE" series and I'M DYING!!!!!!!!!! Book one was and still is such a love/hate for so many and I'm most definitely one of the diehard lovers of the first book, have the second and can't wait to read it and now A THIRD BOOK?!?!?!?! Just a little excited :-O I'm being a total book nerd and about to jump out of my skin!! Must get my hands on this ASAP!!!! I can't wait need [email protected]%*+?!G!!!!!! Okay, please don't hate me for doing this in the review box, but just found out there's a third book in the "TPOTE" series and I'M DYING!!!!!!!!!! Book one was and still is such a love/hate for so many and I'm most definitely one of the diehard lovers of the first book, have the second and can't wait to read it and now A THIRD BOOK?!?!?!?! Just a little excited :-O I'm being a total book nerd and about to jump out of my skin!! Must get my hands on this ASAP!!!! I can't wait need it now book! Time to read "World Without End"! OM*G so excited, lolol. Book nerd moments are so embarrassing xD
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  • Jason
    January 1, 1970
    It seems the consensus among Kingsbridge fans is that A Column of Fire is their least favourite. I agree. Forgive my corniness, but A Column of Fire just didn't have the flame the previous two books in the series had. Ken Follett, one of the best-selling authors in history, has never been considered as a spectacular writer. This holds true again in this latest novel. Follett writes quick-paced scenes. His sentences remain as stilted as ever. His words are rigid, and perhaps this evens gives a ce It seems the consensus among Kingsbridge fans is that A Column of Fire is their least favourite. I agree. Forgive my corniness, but A Column of Fire just didn't have the flame the previous two books in the series had. Ken Follett, one of the best-selling authors in history, has never been considered as a spectacular writer. This holds true again in this latest novel. Follett writes quick-paced scenes. His sentences remain as stilted as ever. His words are rigid, and perhaps this evens gives a certain flavour to the historical novels. But for me, it makes it a bit of a tough slog to get through some 1000 pages or so. Of the three Kingsbridge novels, I had the hardest time getting through this one; as you may notice, I took me nearly a month and a half to complete it.Why? There are two main reasons this book didn't hold up to the previous two novels.1. Kingsbridge itself. The city, made famous by its cathedral, is largely absent in this book. One of the things that made the previous two books spectacular was the way Follett weaved his knowledge on cathedral building into the books. In this book, the cathedral itself is only really mentioned a couple of times. To Follett's credit, he does effortlessly weave historical knowledge into this book, but it has more to with the power dynamics of the world at the time.2. Character. Unlike the previous books, I really didn't care that much about these characters. In particular, the Ned-Margery arch didn't really work for me. I didn't feel that these two people cared enough to be together; I also didn't feel that they cared enough when they couldn't be with one another. Further, I didn't despise some of the "bad guys" like I did in the other novels. Perhaps the main antagonist in the novel is Pierre, but I just didn't loathe him like I wanted to. One of the things that made Pillars and Without End work were the dramatic conflicts between the good and bad. Column struggled with that. I found myself wanting to see more of the Barney and Rollo story-lines, but found they were lacking. I think the book could have drawn more on those story-lines to increase the tension and conflict throughout the narrative. But, since we didn't see a lot of Barney and Rollo, their two story-lines felt almost arbitrary and random. Part of me thinks we only saw Barney go to the "New World" because it is setting us up for a book or series where Follett takes us to the New World with a whole new cast. Column of Fire might have needed another thousand pages to do it justice. Column jumped too quickly in spots. There would be chapters upon chapters where the narration is well-paced. Then, all of a sudden, we jump ahead a year (or in some places ten years) and certain characters are dead and married to new people. I found it hard to get on board with accepting the rationale of this at times. Also, people fall in love just too damn fast in this novel (ie Ned and Sylvie). It's a bit unrealistic. Largely, this major fault of the book was its scope. It was too expansive, too spread out over a large geographical area, for the reader to really get involved in the characters. It ventured too far outside of Kingsbridge, which is where the heart of this series is. Perhaps it's time to retire Kingsbridge. Perhaps it's time to sail across the ocean to the New World.See this review, and others on my blog. You can also read my short stories there. https://jasonramstad.wixsite.com/mysite
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  • Jane
    January 1, 1970
    I was asked to review this by Nudge and was thrilled 28 years ago I read the first book - Pillars of the Earth on holiday and was blown away. 18 years later saw the author then bring out the long awaited World without End and 10 years later I am sitting here with the third instalment. The book although a long time coming is worth the wait. I was given one of a limited edition numbered book proof of 1240.This is a spy story with Elizabeth the first reigning in the sixteenth century. As ever Ken F I was asked to review this by Nudge and was thrilled 28 years ago I read the first book - Pillars of the Earth on holiday and was blown away. 18 years later saw the author then bring out the long awaited World without End and 10 years later I am sitting here with the third instalment. The book although a long time coming is worth the wait. I was given one of a limited edition numbered book proof of 1240.This is a spy story with Elizabeth the first reigning in the sixteenth century. As ever Ken Follett's attention to detail in his writing and historical research is second to none. This author is meticulous and this adds to the readers enjoyment of another epic novel.In this period we are still in Kingsbridge and moved on from the black death and the hundred years war, the descendants are still living dramatic and harrowing lives. This time in the Elizabethan age religion, espionage and love on differing sides. We get entangled with the characters Ned and Margery love and being on differing sides of religion. Readers who know their history will know as the story progresses Mary Queen of Scots with her supporters trying ti rid Elizabeth from her throne and ultimately the demise of Mary. What Ken Follett does effortlessly is weave a wonderful story in and around with fact and fiction. This is the author's gift.The story is as brutal as it is historical with characters the reader will recognise and some they will not, facts they will know and others they will not.The book is divided into four parts which breaks this into manageable sections - it is a huge read of over 750 pages, but certainly worth the wait.As the book ends the reader wonders whether there could be another book, on two continents.I thank the author and Macmillan publishing for allowing me to review this book.
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  • Marialyce
    January 1, 1970
    I did it, or should I say Ken Follett did it? He managed to in nine hundred and six pages, to continue the story he started two books ago with The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Amazing to me is that Mr Follett not only wrote this many pages, but also so aptly filled those pages with a story that was hard to put down. If you loved the first two books in this series, you are going to be in love once again.In this novel, the year is 1558 and religious strife is tearing the country, it I did it, or should I say Ken Follett did it? He managed to in nine hundred and six pages, to continue the story he started two books ago with The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Amazing to me is that Mr Follett not only wrote this many pages, but also so aptly filled those pages with a story that was hard to put down. If you loved the first two books in this series, you are going to be in love once again.In this novel, the year is 1558 and religious strife is tearing the country, its people, and its ruler apart. The antagonism between Catholics and Protestants is at a fevered pitch as Queen Mary, also known as Bloody Mary, tortures and kills those who want to take Christianity in a different direction that of being less ostentatious, less mercurial, and more dedicated to the simplicity of worshiping God. Elimination of priests, bishops, and clergy living off the poor, of statues, of the richness of the trappings within the Catholic Church is the goal of this new faith. A new queen is about to assume control. Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Vlll and Anne Boleyn is to become queen. She is a Protestant who will try to balance the faiths that seems to pit neighbor against neighbor, family against family, and encourages so many secrets, lies, and deaths. The ultra Catholics despise Elizabeth and will try over her years of reign to do away with her and reestablish the Catholic faith as the faith of England with an overwhelming desire to place a Catholic monarch on the throne.Ned Willard and Margery Fitzgerald are two of the main characters who love one another and wish to marry. However, their opposing views on faith splits them apart. Ned decides to work for Princess Elizabeth and when she ascends the throne, Ned takes on the role as her protector and does so as a kind of agent tracking down plots, assassins, and those who wish Elizabeth harm and death. Ned and Margery drift apart and even though they are desperately in love, that love is doomed. Ned becomes more embroiled in the plots against Elizabeth while Margery marries another forced to give up Ned. As the times and the story continue many characters both real and imagined by Mr Follett create a wonderful telling of the Elizabethan Age. He interweaves the happenings of the times into the story line and makes this novel a true work of fiction seem quite real. Along the way in this sprawling novel, we meet many characters both good and evil who want to impose their beliefs on all and who do not believe in the word tolerance. They will have their way no matter how many lives are lost not caring about the cost and toll their intolerance will bring upon the people. It was a turbulent time and the fact that it was caused by religion seems unimaginable. Yet, does it really judging even today by the intolerance we oftentimes see by religious fanatics who, just like in these Elizabethan times, murder, plunder, and kill in the name of their God.This is Ken Follett at his best tying all the characters together both those that were historically real with those of his imagination. I was super excited to read this book in the Kingsbridge series and so very happy to say that I was not disappointed at all.
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  • Simona Bartolotta
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 “Sometimes Ned felt he lived in a rotten world.” I haven't read World Without End yet, but according what I've gathered from the reviews I've seen and my experience with the wonderful The Pillars of the Earth, A Column of Fire seems to be significantly different from both its predecessors. The most heard complaints are, as far as I know, the weakness of the romance and the lack of depth when it comes to the characters, most likely due to A Column of Fire having a much wider scope than the 4.5 “Sometimes Ned felt he lived in a rotten world.” I haven't read World Without End yet, but according what I've gathered from the reviews I've seen and my experience with the wonderful The Pillars of the Earth, A Column of Fire seems to be significantly different from both its predecessors. The most heard complaints are, as far as I know, the weakness of the romance and the lack of depth when it comes to the characters, most likely due to A Column of Fire having a much wider scope than the first installments in the Kingsbridge series. I believe both complaints to be incontrovertibly well-grounded. I challenge anyone to say Ned and Margery's story is as epic as Aliena and Jack's, or as dreamy, or as beautiful... or as unrealistic. I'm not completely cold-hearted: I have cheered for Jack and Aliena them just like you all did. I even like them more than I like Ned and Margery, but only because I didn't connect with Margery as a character; if I must consider the romance alone, then I loved them both equally. Because Aliena and Jack make you dream, but Margery and Ned represent what would most likely happen, which means that they make it even easier for the reader to empathize with them. So I don't believe that in A Column of Fire the romance is actually weaker: I believe it is simply shaped on a different vision of love. And different doesn't necessarily means worse. Whether readers will be able to like it as much depends on what they're looking for and what they expect from a Follett book. I'm just saying it shouldn't be considered as an objective flaw just on principle.As regards the wider scope, again, I completely agree, and again, it really depends on what you want from the book. The world depicted in A Column of Fire is much, much wider than the one of the first two books, more complex, more dangerous, and obviously, the focus must shift to accommodate this. In coming to terms with this change, I believe I was helped by my indestructible love for the other Follett historical series, The Century Trilogy, which I still like better than anything else I have read by him. The XX century is a terribly complex, composite period, and only true genius could make sense of it in such a fluid, gripping way of such a variety of people, countries, ideas, movements, conquests and atrocities; but Follett did it. This is why I believe much of the experience of the writing of that trilogy went into the writing of A Column of Fire as well, and I also think this broader approach came into play in the Kingsbridge series just at the right time, as it probably (and very effectively, in my opinion) reflects the change that must have occurred in people's world view with the rediscovery and colonization of the Americas. It is true that in that trilogy, Follett generally does a better work with his characters than in A Column of Fire, but ultimately not so much as to annoy me; in fact, personally, I have no complaints at all.Moreover, A Column of Fire roughly spans the year of the Europeans wars of religion, by which I am deeply and equally fascinated and repulsed. So it was kind of an easy win with me. Long story short, you must be aware that you won't get from A Column of Fire what you got from The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, because a lot of things happened in the years between the end of the latter and the beginning of A Column of Fire, and Ken Follett, according to my interpretation of the whole thing, chose to represent these changes with a narrative strategy he deemed fit. I am more than happy with his choice, which I find clever, thought-provoking and careful. The only thing I can suggest is, be unprejudiced and go for it.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    I was very familiar with this time period, the religious wars in France and England, the Spanish Inquisition. So much bloodshed, killing in the name of the Lord. A huge cast of characters, no character list provided, took quite a while to remember who was who, this is a very lengthy tome. A fantastic portraying of the history of this time period. Yet, for me frustrating as well. In his effort to cover so much ground, in different areas, he sacrificed character development, and made the various t I was very familiar with this time period, the religious wars in France and England, the Spanish Inquisition. So much bloodshed, killing in the name of the Lord. A huge cast of characters, no character list provided, took quite a while to remember who was who, this is a very lengthy tome. A fantastic portraying of the history of this time period. Yet, for me frustrating as well. In his effort to cover so much ground, in different areas, he sacrificed character development, and made the various threads difficult to smoothly follow. I would get involved in one story, and then switched away to another. By the time we return to the other thread, it was hard to once again engageYes, he can write. Some graphic scenes of the violence and horror of this time.. So many schemed for power, conspiracies, spies, it all here. So read it for the history, and though I always had a few favored characters, they were not really fully fleshed, it was hard to actually get z handle on their personalities. In the end, for me, it was just okay.
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  • Nikoleta
    January 1, 1970
    Αρκετά ωραίο αλλά δεν είναι σαν τα δύο προηγούμενα. Προσπάθησε πολύ χωρίς να του βγαίνει αβίαστα...
  • Pauline
    January 1, 1970
    'A Column of Fire' by Ken Follett. I loved 'Pillars of the Earth' and 'World Without End' so I had high hopes for this book but I think I was put off by the fact that I had read a lot of historical books about this period so it was rather boring to me. I did engage with a couple of the characters and found parts of the book interesting.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a huge fan of Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. After only two chapters of this book I am hugely disappointed. It is difficult to believe that Ken Follet wrote this book. The language is juvenile and the vernacular is very modern and western. I'll continue reading and hope for some improvement.
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  • Maria Espadinha
    January 1, 1970
    Se Isto é Religião?!Esta obra recordou-me (e já vão entender porquê) um excerto duma cantiga de Chico Buarque que soa mais ou menos assim:"...mesmo quando minhas mãos estão empenhadas em torturar, trucidar, matar...meu coração fecha os olhos e sinceramente, chora!..."Será religião queimar em fogueiras, torturar e massacrar?!...Aonde é que estão a paz e o amor pelo próximo que a religião apregoa aos 4 ventos?!...Foram múltiplas as guerras a que os caciques religiosos se entregaram. Esses anjos ne Se Isto é Religião?!Esta obra recordou-me (e já vão entender porquê) um excerto duma cantiga de Chico Buarque que soa mais ou menos assim:"...mesmo quando minhas mãos estão empenhadas em torturar, trucidar, matar...meu coração fecha os olhos e sinceramente, chora!..."Será religião queimar em fogueiras, torturar e massacrar?!...Aonde é que estão a paz e o amor pelo próximo que a religião apregoa aos 4 ventos?!...Foram múltiplas as guerras a que os caciques religiosos se entregaram. Esses anjos negros fardados de clérigos violentaram a religião, desventraram-na e espezinharam-lhe o coração. Mumificaram-na, reduzindo-a a uma farsa hipócrita!Mais uma grande obra dum mestre do romance histórico.É sempre um prazer aprender história com Ken Follet :)
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  • Clif Hostetler
    January 1, 1970
    The Reformation was a time when religion was front and center in national, social and personal identity. It was so important that it was common practice to kill those who held incorrect beliefs. The concept of tolerance was generally an abhorrent thought because it suggested that correct religious belief wasn't absolutely important and true. This book is a historical novel about a time when toleration of religious diversity was beginning to take hold during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. But tr The Reformation was a time when religion was front and center in national, social and personal identity. It was so important that it was common practice to kill those who held incorrect beliefs. The concept of tolerance was generally an abhorrent thought because it suggested that correct religious belief wasn't absolutely important and true. This book is a historical novel about a time when toleration of religious diversity was beginning to take hold during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. But true toleration was still a ways off in the future. In my opinion it was not a good time to be alive.The story moves through 50 eventful years of Reformation history beginning in 1558 during the reign of Bloody Mary of England and finally ending with the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. An epilogue carries the story forward to 1620. History has provided Follett with some spectacular dramatic moments during these years, and he takes full advantage by recreating them with a historian’s eye for detail and a novelist’s gift for narrative suspense. Follett makes sure his fictional characters are present at and playing key roles in all the significant historical events of the second half of the sixteenth century. Among the more dramatic interludes are the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, in which Parisian Catholics murdered thousands of Huguenots (French Protestants); the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, an act that sent shock waves throughout Europe; and the miraculous defeat of the Spanish Armada by a much smaller force.Some other lesser know historical events described in this book include the following listed items (not complete):1. Spanish Inquisition and its secular use to end business completion2. Marriage of Mary Stuart (aka Queen of Scots) to Francis, Francis, Dauphin of France, and the official witnessing of its consummation3. The accidental death of Henry II of France4. The Massacre of Wassy5. The assassination of Francis, Duke of Guise6. Riot in Antwerp that stopped the burning at the stake of a 14 year old girl who refused to recant from being Protestant. (not sure this is historical)(view spoiler)[I found this event which is similar, but wrong city:On March 28, 1558, five Anabaptists escaped death at the stake, in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (See Martyrs' Mirror, p. 575.) Their names were: Jan Hendriksz, Peter van Eynoven, Evert Nouts, Annetgen Antheunisdochter, and Stijntgen Jansdochter. The executioner had just begun the process of strangling Jan Hendricsz, but he made such slow progress that the spectators became agitated and restless. The crowd soon overpowered the executioner and took control ot the situation. All five prisoners were set tree, so that no one was executed in Rotterdam that day. Three days later, however, one of the liberators, Guert Vllillemszoon, was captured and given the death sentence. (hide spoiler)]7. Mary Queen of Scots escape from Scottish imprisonment and fleeing to England (and eventual doom)8. Papal bull issued by Pope Pius V declaring Queen Elizabeth to be a heretic and releasing all her subjects from any allegiance to her9. The assassination of Henry I, Duke of GuiseAny readers who are prejudice in favor of Catholicism will not find much comfort in these pages. Most of the villains in this story are Catholic. The Puritans represent the extreme of the Protestant side, but within this time period they were not politically powerful. Follett uses the tools of popular fiction to great effect, illuminating a nation’s gradual progress toward modernity. The central theme of the book is the ongoing conflict between tolerance and fanaticism. In Follett’s hands, that story becomes a fascinating narrative.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I'm giving this four stars because in comparison to many other historical fiction books, it certainly deserves that many stars at least. In comparison to Follett's other Kingsbridge novels, sadly, I'd only give it three stars.There is something magical about The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. In those novels Follett weaves together the lives of ordinary people and makes what might otherwise seem mundane, engrossing. They tell the tales of good vs. evil, the many obstacles on the pat I'm giving this four stars because in comparison to many other historical fiction books, it certainly deserves that many stars at least. In comparison to Follett's other Kingsbridge novels, sadly, I'd only give it three stars.There is something magical about The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. In those novels Follett weaves together the lives of ordinary people and makes what might otherwise seem mundane, engrossing. They tell the tales of good vs. evil, the many obstacles on the path to righteousness, the triumphs of either side, and the eventual justice received by all. I love these books. They are the kind of books that stay with you over time and beg to be reread.A Column of Fire, unfortunately, just doesn't live up to the enormous standard set by the previous two books. The primary problem is that this is not the tale of that triumphant fictional town of Kingsbridge. This is a novel that spans many settings, languages and countries. It takes a look at the beginning of religious freedom in Europe. It did not have the tight-knit feel of small town drama. The enemies were still evil, but they were vast and many and always seemed so distant.In past books, I was always glued to the page knowing the characters were often going head to head, watching one plan come together and seeing the other characters unravel it piece by piece. There was scheming here, but it often felt impersonal. It happened on a much grander scale and somehow didn't hold my attention as tightly as the smaller, more personal battles of Kingsbridge.However, there are other things to love about this novel. Sylvie is a strong female character that you can't help but root for. I think her character arc was the strongest and perhaps the most interesting. Whenever the plot switched to her viewpoint, I was thrilled to see what she would do next. She competes with the men on a level reminiscent of Aliena in The Pillars of the Earth. I also loved Ned Willard's storyline. Minor (view spoiler)[: He becomes one of the leaders of a massive network of Protestant spies throughout England and France. (hide spoiler)] His story was told well and didn't cross lines of implausibility (which I think might have been an easy trap to fall into given the historical setting).The historical accuracy, to my knowledge, was fantastic and well told. We see the opulent wealth of the Catholic church and French monarchy and aristocracy, religious persecution, naval battles, plays, and traveling acrobatic troupes, and bearbaiting. Follett's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth was fascinating and has me yearning to learn more about her as a historical figure rather than a (semi) fictional character.I would recommend this to anyone who reads historical fiction and is interested in the 16th century. However, if you have read the previous Kingsbridge novels, I would advise that you do not go into this expecting a third. It's fine as it is on its own, but to liken it with its predecessors will bring, in my opinion, disappointment.Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking for providing an eARC to review.
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  • Choko
    January 1, 1970
    *** 4 ***Ken Follett is not the best writer. What Ken Follett is, is a good observer of the human condition and a very good historical researcher. If you love history and particularly the 16th Century Western European politics and religious wars, this series, and particularly this book is a very good addition to the usual historical fiction variety. For the fans of the Kingsbridge series, this book comes back to the town with the big Cathedral and some familial descendants to the first Tom Build *** 4 ***Ken Follett is not the best writer. What Ken Follett is, is a good observer of the human condition and a very good historical researcher. If you love history and particularly the 16th Century Western European politics and religious wars, this series, and particularly this book is a very good addition to the usual historical fiction variety. For the fans of the Kingsbridge series, this book comes back to the town with the big Cathedral and some familial descendants to the first Tom Builder from the middle ages. It is sad to see how the changes in laws and rulers affected the Cathedral and the population of the town at large. This volume covers the time of the tumultuous rain of Queen Elizabeth and the battle of the Catholic and Protestant religions for the souls of the citizens of the West. "... "In the eyes of the church, the Bible was the most dangerous of all banned books—especially translated into French or English, with marginal notes explaining how certain passages proved the correctness of Protestant teaching. Priests said that ordinary people were unable to rightly interpret God’s word, and needed guidance. Protestants said the Bible opened men’s eyes to the errors of the priesthood. Both sides saw reading the Bible as the central issue of the religious conflict that had swept Europe.”..." It is brutal. As in the years preceding every change of religion throughout the historical timeline, the established philosophies and the ones challenging them go through a dance of give and take, of debate and bloodshed, and of obsession and disillusionment. Mr. Follett brings the reality of the time in a very realistic and relatable manner, although he puts us more in the observer's role, thus letting us have the emotional separation needed to be able to get through a hefty and merciless read like this one. The history has never been a bone of contention with me, nor is the way he is able to show so many sides of the conflict and numerous ways people perceived and dealt with them. It is the writing. I still have an problem with the way he is able to cover such breath of complex issues, while he is more than shallow when it comes to characters and their interactions. As readers we are affected by the horrors of the reality, but we are not truly allowed to be involved with any of the characters, be them "good" or "bad" guys. We react to the actions, but the characters are a bit flat, the villains being supper evil and the good guys being mostly good and with clear and justifiable motives. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I really believe that a bit of a personal touch to their characters while interacting would go a very long way and be worthy of the scope of the work he already does so well. "... “We hanged him in front of Kingsbridge Cathedral. It is the usual place for executions. After all, if you can’t kill a man in front of God’s face you probably shouldn’t kill him at all.”..." Ned Willard is the main protagonist and a protestant who works for the Queen. We see a span of at least 50 years through his eyes and I have to say, I enjoyed him, but I was not "in love" with him. Honestly, as much as I feel separated from him, he is still the one I could understand and cheer for most out of all the male characters up to now in the series. Out of Margery and Sylvie I preferred Sylvie, the Paris Huguenot, but I understood Margery as well. Overall, I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end and am glad I got to read it. For those who love Follett, he delivers exactly what we have come to expect from him. If you want to read this book, but have not read the previous ones, I think it is completely fine to be read as a standalone. It is full of religion, politics and action, so it does have a lot to offer. "... “Perhaps we’ve done enough.” Sylvie was shocked. Her mother had never talked this way. Isabelle noticed her reaction and said defensively: “Even God rested on the seventh day, after he made the world.” “Our work isn’t finished.” “Perhaps it never will be, until the Last Trump.”..." Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book!!!
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, I have done this many times:watched a man die knowing that I, more than anyone else, had brought him to his just but dreadful punishment. I did it for my country, which is dear to me; for my sovereign, whom I serve; and for something else, a principle, the belief that a person had the right to make up his own mind about God. He was the last of many men I sent to hell, but he made me think of the first...Well, my hats off to Mr. Ken Follett on another fantastic historical fiction that I go Yes, I have done this many times:watched a man die knowing that I, more than anyone else, had brought him to his just but dreadful punishment. I did it for my country, which is dear to me; for my sovereign, whom I serve; and for something else, a principle, the belief that a person had the right to make up his own mind about God. He was the last of many men I sent to hell, but he made me think of the first...Well, my hats off to Mr. Ken Follett on another fantastic historical fiction that I gorged myself on this quiet Sunday night. When I heard that Follet was giving his fans a third follow up in the series that began with "The Pillars of the Earth" and continued with "World Without End," I must admit that I wondered what else there was to say about the splendid but angsty Kingsbridge. As I come up for air after 900 pages, I will say that it was definitely a treat to revisit the old stomping grounds.But I found myself nostalgic for the craziness of the medieval period and the building of the cathedral. Spanning 1558-1620, Follett, like he did with his 20th century trilogy, blossoms outside the boundaries of England and unfolds the tale of European powers and their religious civil wars that waged between Catholics and Protestants. Like the first two installments, there is political intrigue, young lovers thwarted, villains and heroes, and just down right cruel members of the clergy. But I missed my beloved cathedral that just didn't get enough of the limelight. Although a more extensive character list would have been much appreciated, I do acknowledge that the back of the book has a list of the real historical persons that travel the pages.
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  • Anne Goldschrift
    January 1, 1970
    Ich muss ehrlich sagen, dass ich mich mehr darauf gefreut habe, als es mich letztlich überzeugt hat. Ja, die Geschichte war toll, aber eigentlich hatte es so gar nichts mehr mit Die Säulen der Erde zu tun. Weder inhaltlich oder zeitlich, noch vom Gefühl beim Lesen. Es ist interessant, einen so großen Überblick über den Konflikt zwischen Katholiken und Protestanten zu bekommen, aber es war mir einfach irgendwann zu viel. Zu viele Zahlen, zu viele Personen, zu viele Beziehungen, zu viele Zeitsprün Ich muss ehrlich sagen, dass ich mich mehr darauf gefreut habe, als es mich letztlich überzeugt hat. Ja, die Geschichte war toll, aber eigentlich hatte es so gar nichts mehr mit Die Säulen der Erde zu tun. Weder inhaltlich oder zeitlich, noch vom Gefühl beim Lesen. Es ist interessant, einen so großen Überblick über den Konflikt zwischen Katholiken und Protestanten zu bekommen, aber es war mir einfach irgendwann zu viel. Zu viele Zahlen, zu viele Personen, zu viele Beziehungen, zu viele Zeitsprünge, zu viele Längen im Buch. Oft musste ich mich motivieren, überhaupt weiterzumachen, weil es sehr sehr zäh wurde.Leider nur 3 Sterne.
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  • Xabi1990
    January 1, 1970
    A ver, que voy y me voy a despachar a gusto… (Y si eres fan a ultranza de Follett no sigas leyendo)Abandonado al 75% tras más de 850 página leídas (si se abandona con ese avance es que uno está quemadillo, ¿eh?).Que les den a los hugonotes, a los protestantes, a los católicos, a la reina Isabel I, a María Tudor e incluso a Felipe II.Y tras acabar con ellos que empiecen con los personajes del libro y sigan con el mismo procedimiento.(que bien me he “quedao”)Follett nos da un nuevo libro como los A ver, que voy y me voy a despachar a gusto… (Y si eres fan a ultranza de Follett no sigas leyendo)Abandonado al 75% tras más de 850 página leídas (si se abandona con ese avance es que uno está quemadillo, ¿eh?).Que les den a los hugonotes, a los protestantes, a los católicos, a la reina Isabel I, a María Tudor e incluso a Felipe II.Y tras acabar con ellos que empiecen con los personajes del libro y sigan con el mismo procedimiento.(que bien me he “quedao”)Follett nos da un nuevo libro como los dos anteriores de esta trilogía y como su otra trilogía de “The Century”: nos cuenta la época que venga al caso a través de las peripecias de unas familias inventadas y mezcladas con personajes reales. El problema es que el método es IDÉNTICO y si Los pilares de la Tierra fue sorprendente y buenísimo, los otros cinco tochos de los que hablo son más de lo mismo y con personajes –para mi gusto- no muy atractivos.Aquí no esperas nada, no hay intrigas, sólo vas leyendo lo que pasa. Y si fueses de la mano de personajes atrayentes igual tenía su perdón (o si fuese más corto), pero en este caso son todos arteros, intrigantes o bueeeeeeeenos que no convencen.No hay interés ni ideas nuevas. Si para colmo el tema de la religión o la política pura y dura no te interesa demasiado no veo forma de salvarle mínimamente.Mi única concesión es que el autor escribe bien y sólo con eso ha conseguido que lea ese mogollón de páginas esperando que mejore la cosa…pero no lo hace.Como ya dije en el comentario al 35%, echo infinitamente de menos sus novelas ambientadas en las Guerras Mundiales o en la Guerra Fría.
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  • Tim
    January 1, 1970
    "Religous hypocrisy" may be a better title for this long, tortuous, brutal, murdering and warring legions under the guise of Catholics and Protestants. While I admire Ken Follett as an author, I despise this story. 1 of 10 stars
  • Nikita
    January 1, 1970
    I love his writing.... this one just fell short
  • Célia
    January 1, 1970
    Mesmo tendo sido escrito há quase 30 anos, Os Pilares da Terra continua a ser, sem grande dúvida, o livro mais lido e adorado do escritor britânico Ken Follett. Dezoito anos depois surgiu Mundo sem Fim, a sequela decorrida dois séculos depois da história original, que recuperou a população de Kingsbridge no século XIV, durante o período da Peste Negra. Agora, Ken Follett decidiu prosseguir com esta série, voltando a Kingsbridge no século XVI, em pleno conflito religioso entre católicos e protest Mesmo tendo sido escrito há quase 30 anos, Os Pilares da Terra continua a ser, sem grande dúvida, o livro mais lido e adorado do escritor britânico Ken Follett. Dezoito anos depois surgiu Mundo sem Fim, a sequela decorrida dois séculos depois da história original, que recuperou a população de Kingsbridge no século XIV, durante o período da Peste Negra. Agora, Ken Follett decidiu prosseguir com esta série, voltando a Kingsbridge no século XVI, em pleno conflito religioso entre católicos e protestantes.Em 1558, duas famílias se destacam em Kingsbridge: os Fitzgerald, católicos com um grande desejo de ascensão social, e os Willard, que prosperam à custa do comércio que faziam com a cidade de Calais, naquela altura sob jugo inglês. No início do livro, Ned Willard vê frustradas as suas intenções de casar com Margery Fitzgerald, que é obrigada pela família a unir-se ao Visconde Bart Shiring. Abatido, Ned decide abandonar Kingsbridge e prestar os seus serviços a Isabel I, nessa altura ainda apenas uma prossível pretendente ao trono, caso se desse o falecimento da atual rainha, Maria Tudor. A partir desta altura, o leitor compreende que Ken Follett lhe preparou uma “viagem” que percorrerá vários países: em França, Pierre Aumande é um jovem ladrão, filho ilegítimo de uma família importante, que procura ascender socialmente a acaba no meio da corte francesa e de intrigas palacianas; em Espanha, o irmão de Ned, Barney, estava em Sevilha com familiares, quando as perseguições da Inquisição se iniciaram. Outras paragens são-lhe apresentadas, como a Holanda (à altura controlada pelos espanhóis) e a Nova Espanha (nomeadamente na Hispaniola). Na Europa, existe um fator comum: as lutas entre católicos e protestantes e o extremismo das duas posições contrabalançado pelo desejo de tolerância de algumas pessoas.O período cronológico abordado neste livro é extenso (começa em 1558 e o epílogo decorre em 1620) e, como se sabe, esta época foi fértil em acontecimentos históricos: a ascensão da rainha Isabel I ao trono e a luta pela sua manutenção nessa posição (que incluiu a execução de Maria da Escócia, sua parente e pretendente ao trono, e a luta contra a Armada Invencível), a já referida luta entre católicos e protestantes, intrigas palacianas e assassinatos, entre muitos outros. Ken Follett conseguiu, a meu ver, apresentar um retrato bastante fiel (daquilo que sei desta época histórica) e detalhado aos seus leitores. Uma Coluna de Fogo é uma boa lição de história, que me fez mais lembrar a série “O Século” do que propriamente Os Pilares da Terra, pela sua abrangência e importância dada aos factos históricos que rodeavam as suas personagens ficcionais. Na minha opinião, ao contrário do que aconteceu no primeiro volume da série “Kingsbridge”, este volume foca-se muito menos na localidade de Kingsbridge e nas vicissitudes da vida dos seus habitantes, tornando-o, por esse motivo, menos cativante. Claro que há personagens muito interessantes, e aqui tenho de referir Pierre Aumande, que a meu ver foi a mais bem conseguida. No início, quase não sabemos se havemos de gostar dele ou odiá-lo, ainda que a sua sede de poder e capacidades de manipulação deixem adivinhar que aquela personagem irá cair numa espiral de destruição. Os capítulos com a sua perspetiva foram, sem dúvida, os que mais gostei de ler.Apesar de longo, Uma Coluna de Fogo manteve quase sempre o meu interesse. Considero apenas que a narrativa poderia ter sido encurtada em algumas secções sem prejuízo da sua qualidade, antes pelo contrário. No cômputo geral, foi uma boa leitura, que me entreteve e com a qual aprendi coisas novas ou recordei algumas que já sabia sobre este período em concreto da história.
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  • Meg - A Bookish Affair
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. "A Column of Fire" is the third book in Ken Follett's Kingsbridge series. I have not read the first two books but after reading this one, I really want to go back to read those two books as well as some of Follett's other books! That being said, this book works rather well as a standalone book. Standing at over 900 pages, you are in Follett's very capable hands so the pages fly by! This is a historical fiction epic.The book takes place during a tumultuous time in England's history: th 4.5 stars. "A Column of Fire" is the third book in Ken Follett's Kingsbridge series. I have not read the first two books but after reading this one, I really want to go back to read those two books as well as some of Follett's other books! That being said, this book works rather well as a standalone book. Standing at over 900 pages, you are in Follett's very capable hands so the pages fly by! This is a historical fiction epic.The book takes place during a tumultuous time in England's history: the late 1500s and early 1600s. The country is going through a major identity crisis as to whether it is a Catholic or a Protestant country. Should everyone be in the same mold or can they have more freedom? Who is the rightful ruler of the country? Who can that ruler trust?This was a time period that was familiar to me but what I appreciated is that for the most part, Follett's characters are just on the edge of history. We meet rulers through them like Queen Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots. We see how calculated each move must be for even these edge-of-history characters in order to be on the "right" side at the "right" time. This book is action packed and kept me on my toes. In some ways, it reminds me of a soap opera. There's a huge cast but each character has their own unique story. Large casts can often be an issue for me because of the likelihood of characters blending together but Follett really does a good job of creating different storylines that intertwine in surprising ways.This was a great read!
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  • Tanja Berg
    January 1, 1970
    I expect sumptuous historical novels from Ken Follett and he definitely delivered again. The cast of villains and heroes is vast. This time the setting is time of Elizabeth I. She inherited the throne from her catholic sister Mary, much to the chagrin of the English Catholics. They would much rather have had a Catholic Queen, and many set their eyes on Mary, Queen of Scots. The main character of this book is Ned Willard. He is in love with Margery, but her parents have intended her for someone e I expect sumptuous historical novels from Ken Follett and he definitely delivered again. The cast of villains and heroes is vast. This time the setting is time of Elizabeth I. She inherited the throne from her catholic sister Mary, much to the chagrin of the English Catholics. They would much rather have had a Catholic Queen, and many set their eyes on Mary, Queen of Scots. The main character of this book is Ned Willard. He is in love with Margery, but her parents have intended her for someone else. Ned is drawn into the network around Elizabeth and becomes a spy, infiltrating the networks that would have her de-throned. Ned's enarmoured with Elizabeth from the beginning, and particularly into her relgious tolerance. Traitors must die though, and there are plenty of those.This is a truly sprawling historical novel, that delves deeply into polar opposites of Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth I. I learned quite a bit of history. I thought Mary Queen of Scots perhaps was Elizabeth's half sister or something - given that Henry VIII, her father, had such a lot of wives - but no, she was just a distant cousin. This was as deeply satisfying a novel as any by Ken Follett that I have read, despite the fact that it took me almost two weeks to read it. He is definitely one of my favorite authors in the historical fiction genre. Absolutely recommended!There is no need to worry about this being #3 in a series, it can be read as a stand alone without missing any serious points at all. Although the previous two do deserve to be read, there is no particular need to read read them in order, they are that far removed in time from each other.
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  • Liviu
    January 1, 1970
    a long book that moves extremely fast and while fairly predictable and with black and white characters without much subtlety, it is still very gripping and keeps one turning the pages; while technically Kingsbridge 3, the action is on a much larger canvas following the long religious struggle of the second half of the 16th century, mainly in England and France abut also in the Low Countries and even the Americas; a few notable events like the Night of st. Bartholomew in Paris, the long imprisonm a long book that moves extremely fast and while fairly predictable and with black and white characters without much subtlety, it is still very gripping and keeps one turning the pages; while technically Kingsbridge 3, the action is on a much larger canvas following the long religious struggle of the second half of the 16th century, mainly in England and France abut also in the Low Countries and even the Americas; a few notable events like the Night of st. Bartholomew in Paris, the long imprisonment, trial and execution of Mary Stuart, the defeat of the Armada and the Guy Fawkes plot are covered in detail but the narration moves effortlessly across years and forms a rounded whole with a great ending too; the usual Ken Follett prose (plain and no better or worse than in the Century trilogy) but the attractiveness of the novel is in its narrative energy and that it has in spades
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  • Lindsey
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of the book from a Goodreads Giveaway.I will start by saying I loved the first two books in the Kingsbridge series. I remember being engrossed with their stories so I was very excited to read the third installment. However, if you choose to write a Tudor-era book that is one of many in a sea of Elizabethan novels, it had better be fantastic and this just wasn't. It irritated me to no end that most of the fictional characters somehow took over the pivotal role in so many importa I received a copy of the book from a Goodreads Giveaway.I will start by saying I loved the first two books in the Kingsbridge series. I remember being engrossed with their stories so I was very excited to read the third installment. However, if you choose to write a Tudor-era book that is one of many in a sea of Elizabethan novels, it had better be fantastic and this just wasn't. It irritated me to no end that most of the fictional characters somehow took over the pivotal role in so many important events of that time-St Bartholomew's Day massacre, the Guy Fawkes gunpowder plot, Walsingham's spy ring, Mary Stuart's sole companion and solace (and no, Queen Mary did not have a close attendant named Alison-they were all named Mary), etc. It started to become comical, really, how important most of the characters made themselves to be in history. I would have enjoyed this story so much better if Follett had stuck to characters like Margery, Barney and Sylvie who embodied the spirit of the times without forcing themselves into prominence or if the real-life, true characters in the drama were fictionalized and allowed to tell their stories (like one of Queen Mary's Marys for example). I think I've been spoiled by my extensive reading of all things Tudor.
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  • Lorna
    January 1, 1970
    A Column of Fire was the final book in the Kingsbridge trilogy taking place from 1558 through 1620 with history spanning some of the most turbulent and violent times including the Protestant Reformation, The Spanish Inquisition and the religious wars in France and England. This saga begins with the reign of Mary Tudor, Queen of England followed by her half-sister Elizabeth Tudor and the forty year imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots. It also explores the struggles in France between the Catholic A Column of Fire was the final book in the Kingsbridge trilogy taking place from 1558 through 1620 with history spanning some of the most turbulent and violent times including the Protestant Reformation, The Spanish Inquisition and the religious wars in France and England. This saga begins with the reign of Mary Tudor, Queen of England followed by her half-sister Elizabeth Tudor and the forty year imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots. It also explores the struggles in France between the Catholics and the French Huguenots or French protestants with the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day vividly portrayed.". . . . the three great women of the sixteenth century were now dead: Elizabeth, Queen Caterina of France, and Margherita of Parma, governor of the Netherlands. They had all tried to stop men killing one another over religion. . . .Evil men had always frustrated the efforts of the peacemakers. Bloody religious wars had raged for decades in France and the Netherlands. Only England remained more or less at peace."
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  • Joanne Freitas
    January 1, 1970
    Para que gosta de livros históricos este é maravilhoso. Adorei as personagens e a história. As 800 páginas foram lidas num ápice.
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