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A Column of Fire - Ken Follett
The most recent installment of the Kingsbridge series, A Column of Fire may be the best yet. We see major acts designated to historical heavy weights like Queen Elizabeth 1 and the rival for her throne Mary, Queen of Scots and former Queen of France. Starting at the cusp of the Elizabethan Golden Age, the book has the traditional Kingsbridge novel flair - intelligent male & female protagonists who should be a couple but due to her dutiful (in this case staunch Roman Catholic) nature, they will not be together for many years. Cue ambitious parents who would be nobility though the marriages of their daughters; the necessary and ambitious zealots (cathedral town after all); the intelligent and interesting people surrounding the protagonists and of course a few brutes . But the best parts of this read are the scenes that their set in: the religiously brutal pre-Elizabethan era in England; the slaughter of St. Bartholomew's Day when the streets of Paris were painted red by all the Protestant slaughter; the intrigue and and power struggles in the French palace; the transfer to the Elizabethan crown where the monarch is described artfully in a way that makes her more than just a historical juggernaut giving credence. The same can be said about the Guise's of France and the tragic Mary to name but a few. True historical figures and events are narrated so much and guide much of the of premise that the back of the novel includes a section to help the reader distinguish true from fictional characters
A Column of Fire is a spectacular culmination of the writers pattern of turning real events into vivid fictional narrations, more so than the other Kingsbridge novels. The tapestry of this read is richly coloured by real historical events and will have you glued in no-time at all.
*Book sponsored by Pan Macmillan