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A Column of Fire

(Kingsbridge #3)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  81,460 ratings  ·  5,953 reviews
As Europe erupts, can one young spy protect his queen? Ken Follett takes us deep into the treacherous world of powerful monarchs, intrigue, murder, and treason with his magnificent epic, A Column of Fire—the chronological latest in the Kingsbridge series, following The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End, and the prequel, The Evening and the Morning.

In 1558, the ancien
Hardcover, 916 pages
Published September 12th 2017 by Viking Penguin
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Anjuli Some people (like myself) have been sent early proof copies to read and review as well. I received mine back in Feb, though it's not due for release i…moreSome people (like myself) have been sent early proof copies to read and review as well. I received mine back in Feb, though it's not due for release in the UK until Sept. (less)

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  81,460 ratings  ·  5,953 reviews

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Emily May
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, arc, 2017
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
Sean Barrs
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
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Amalia Gkavea
‘’ People should hear Bible stories from their parish priest. If they start reading for themselves, they’re sure to get the wrong idea.’’

Some things never change…

1558, Kingsbridge. Europe is once again in disarray, torn by trivial religious differences. The vicious battle between Catholics and Protestants has never been more violent, sending countries to war and misery. Spain, France, England. The powerful young queen Elizabeth finds her future, her life threatened by the existence of Mary Stua
Oct 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Dana Ilie
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Yet again another masterpiece.....

Ken Follett follows The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End with a tale of espionage, political intrigue and extreme faith during a time of never-ending religious conflict. Full of adventure and suspense, A Column of Fire is an inspiring and thrilling portrait of one of Europe’s most perilous times in history.

It is a journey not only through place but also through a dazzling number of key historical events. Beginning in 1558 and continuing through to 16
Em Lost In Books
Phew!! I struggled from the start to finish, and am glad that it is over. I didn't like it. Unlike the first two books which were centered around the characters and their struggles, this was about Catholics and Protestants, two decade long fight between Elizabeth and Mary for the throne.

The first two books were more about the characters and their strife to survive each day. I elated in their small victories, felt sad in their pain, but here I didn't connect with the characters. Reading this fel
Oct 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Oct 26, 2017 rated it did not like it
"Religious 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! ...more
Melissa I
OM@%*+?!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 ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
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. ...more
Simona B
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing

“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 th
Diane S ☔
Jan 18, 2018 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: edelweiss, historical
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
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
'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. ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
A Column of Fire caps off a perfect ending to an immaculate and masterful series.

The Kingsbridge series has been nothing but a masterpiece in storytelling, and historical enlightenment! In this latest entry, Follett focus his attention in diverging European religious and political ideology in a devilish entertaining way. At the height of European transition from medieval period into 16th century ‘modern’ time, we see some of the most tumultuous conflicts between Catholics and Protestants. Foll
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
*** 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
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Meg - A Bookish Affair
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
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
Tanja Berg
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I love his writing.... this one just fell short
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: selection of local book club
Shelves: history, fiction
Great historical fiction immerses the reader in a different time and place. That state of immersion is shattered by glaring anachronisms. Some years ago I was watching a drama about Henry VIII. It included a dance scene that resembled a high school sock-hop more than a courtly diversion. That one scene ruined any possible sense of immersion. Writers beware: costumes and scenery alone are insufficient for creating historical fiction.

Unfortunately, I encountered the same problem with A COLUMN OF
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Karl Jorgenson
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
It takes a long time to slog through 900 pages, an estimated 400,000 words, but it's worth it. For the third book in this medieval series, we jump forward to the 16th century. Across France, Spain, and England, Catholics and Protestants are looking for ways to kill everybody who doesn't agree with them, royal aspirants are planning to slip the dagger to their rivals, and greed, lust, and envy drive the society. Awesome. As usual with Follett's historical epics, we follow several characters from ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Would have been better had it concentrated on the people of Kingsbridge. For me it turned into ‘just another’ book about Elizabeth and Mary. I enjoyed the first half but got bogged down in the second. It was a long book, but I needed more about the main characters and less about the wider world. In the early part of the book certain people were set up to be the main characters and then were hardly heard of again. I can’t help feeling that within the bones of this book, is a better one about King ...more
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Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 36 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages.

Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of t

Other books in the series

Kingsbridge (4 books)
  • The Evening and the Morning
  • The Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge, #1)
  • World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2)

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