A Column of Fire
Master storyteller Ken Follett is back with a gem for those who like his style of mixing facts and real events with others from his imagination. A weighty tome (751 pages), A Column of Fire continues the saga that started in Pillars of the Earth and continued through World Without End. This third instalment takes in the bloody period in European history before, during and after the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. It deals with the death and destruction brought about by various Crown demands for their religion of choice, which must be worshipped above all others. The term “heretic” rears its ugly head regularly – being found guilty of heresy saw hundreds burnt at the stake in Britain and France and brought about the horrific St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris in 1572, when thousands of Protestants were butchered. Follett weaves a marvellous lesson in history as he tells his story with Sir Ned Willard leading the way as an advisor to Queen Bess; the despicable Pierre Aumande in Paris ingratiating himself among the top family in France; and Sir Ned’s brother-inlaw helping Guy Fawkes with the Gunpowder plot. It’s a great read but not one for the faint-hearted. Follett’s descriptive genius makes sure of that.