A Column of Fire

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN - by Ken Fol­lett, Macmil­lan.

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.

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