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  • A Column of Fire

  • Written by: Ken Follett
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 30 hrs and 19 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (609 ratings)

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A Column of Fire

Written by: Ken Follett
Narrated by: John Lee
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Publisher's Summary

Number-one New York Times best-seller.

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

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

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

In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, 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.

Set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history, A Column of Fire is one of Follett's most exciting and ambitious works yet. It will delight longtime fans of the Kingsbridge series and is the perfect introduction for listeners new to Ken Follett.

©2017 Ken Follett (P)2017 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“Deeply researched...compelling.... A Column of Fire is absorbing, painlessly educational, and a great deal of fun.” (The Washington Post)

“Follett’s historical epics, including this one, evoke the Romantic adventures of Alexandre Dumas. Derring-do and double-crosses.... A Column of Fire burns bright throughout.” (The Christian Science Monitor)

“An immersive journey through the tumultuous world of 16th century Europe and some of the bloodiest religious wars in history. Follett’s sprawling novel is a fine mix of heart-pounding drama and erudite historicism.” (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about A Column of Fire

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Best Book in the Series.

Amazing, love this book. Action and adventure, suspense it has it all. Easily stand alone.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it.

Ken Follett is an amazing story teller. . It's a rich history lesson with amazing twists and turns. .

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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An enchanting history lesson

This is my third Ken Follet book in so many months. I can’t seem to stop listening! The book makes history come alive with tales that are dramatic, but not improbable. I was shocked near the end of this book with the decision over the fate of one character that I had come to love. It is a very detailed and political book that sometimes lagged briefly just telling the political backstories. But overall I throughly enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone who loves Ken’s other books in this series.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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History Brought to Life

Enjoyed the entanglement of historical facts with wonderfully colourful fictional characters. Was sorry to get to the end.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Enthralling!

Great story. Reader was perfect...style, tone, and intonations were just right. looking forward to my favorite author's next book. hoping for same reader too.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Feels out of place

My least favourite of the Kingsbridge stories so far.
What I loved about its predecessors (including the prequel) was the focus on the community and the way the protagonists slowly build up that community. Follet shifts focus away from Kingsbridge and instead focuses on the broader themes of religions fractions within England and Europe.
This felt more like it belonged more to The Century Trilogy rather than the Kingsbridge Series.
In its own right though, it was a good read,

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Religious wars, pirates, royal feuds, and romance.

Another exciting Kingsbridge epic story. I loved being reminded of the Tudor history including sea battles, disputed monarchy liniage, and the religious battles. Enjoyable from start to finish!

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Superb

Follet never disappoints. An other absolutely enthralling novel wit great characters and engaging story. Only sad it ended

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Black Hats vs. White Hats 2.0

As much as I love Follett's historical works, (the Kingsbridge and Century trilogies), one theme predominates: white hat-wearing good guys with hearts as pure as the driven snow are trampled under the tyranny of of black-hatted despots, tyrants, bullies and generally evil monsters in human form. The good guys suffer every indignity and outrage imaginable for 600 pages but then, at the end, the bad guys suffer one final defeat and the good guys find 20 bucks, so all ends well.

This is effective, if predictable storytelling and I'm a sucker for it time and again.

With a Column of Fire, however, it seems some grey hats have entered the midst. You can summon some empathy for some of the black hats, some of the time. The white hats mull over some of their morally questionable actions.

This made the characters more relatable, more charming, more chewy -- and for me, this makes A Column of Fire the best of his historical works so far.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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One word. Spectacular.

If only this was the book I read in school when learning about 16th century Europe. It provides an understanding of so many key events and in a most invaluable way, by being tied to the incredible stories of real historical characters. However fictional the details. Highly recommended.

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