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Get ready to be transported to the 16th century with “A Column of Fire” audiobook by Ken Follett. In this audiobook review, we explore the captivating historical fiction novel that has garnered widespread acclaim. Audiobook review, Ken Follett, A Column of Fire.

Overview of “A Column of Fire”

In “A Column of Fire,” renowned author Ken Follett transports readers back to the heart of the 16th century. This novel is the third installment in the epic Kingsbridge series, set in the fictional city of Kingsbridge amidst the backdrop of religious strife and political intrigue.

Ken Follett is a master storyteller with decades of experience crafting critically acclaimed works of historical fiction. With “A Column of Fire,” he weaves a tale that combines meticulous attention to detail with a riveting plot that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end.

The novel tackles themes of faith, power, and betrayal during the Reformation, exploring the complex conflicts of this tumultuous time in European history. With rich, multidimensional characters and a gripping narrative, “A Column of Fire” is a work of historical fiction not to be missed.

Key Facts

Title: A Column of Fire
Author: Ken Follett
Series: Kingsbridge series, Book 3
Genre: Historical Fiction
Setting: 16th century Europe

Stay tuned to discover more about “A Column of Fire” in the upcoming sections of this audiobook review.

Plot Summary

Set in the 16th century, “A Column of Fire” by Ken Follett is a historical fiction novel that takes readers on a journey through religious and political conflicts, love and betrayal, and personal sacrifices. The novel follows the intertwined lives of multiple characters, including Ned Willard, a young Englishman, and Margery Fitzgerald, a woman with strong convictions. Throughout the book, readers witness the outbreak of wars, political upheaval, and treason that shakes Europe during a perilous and tumultuous time.

The story begins in 1558 with the ascension of Queen Elizabeth I to the throne of England. As the religious landscape of the country becomes more contentious, individuals must pick sides, and loyalties are tested in the face of the inevitable conflict. Ned, a Protestant, and Margery, a Catholic, face impossible choices as their love story is overshadowed by the political turmoil. The couple must navigate not only their personal lives but also a series of complexities that threaten their religious beliefs, their community, and their own safety.

The novel progresses through twists and turns, bringing together different characters from different corners of the continent, facing impossible choices, and uniting them in a common goal. The plot is intricate and captivating, culminating in a dramatic and surprising finale.


Character Description
Ned Willard A protestant Englishman and main character, who works as a secret spy for Queen Elizabeth I.
Margery Fitzgerald An intelligent and strong-willed Catholic girl, Ned’s love interest.
Princess Elizabeth Later to become Queen Elizabeth I, a Protestant leader, and a significant character in the story.
Robert Cecil Son of William Cecil, Elizabeth’s adviser, and is known to have a malicious streak.
Carlos Vald├ęs A Spanish soldier who is converted to be a spy for the English.
Mickey Ned’s lifelong friend from the market town of Kingsbridge.

A Column of Fire

provides a riveting tale set against the backdrop of religious and political conflict. It is a timeless masterwork that appeals to readers of all ages.

Character Analysis

In “A Column of Fire,” Ken Follett presents a diverse cast of characters, each with their unique motivations and complexities.

Ned Willard

Ned Willard, the protagonist, is a devoted Protestant and an aspiring scholar. Despite his scholarly ambitions, he is willing to risk his life to support the Protestant cause. Ned’s unwavering commitment to his beliefs makes him a sympathetic and engaging character.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth is depicted as a clever and resourceful figure. She is driven by her ambition to secure the English throne and preserve her beliefs. Her interactions with other characters reveal a strategic and calculating nature, making her one of the most fascinating characters in the novel.

Character Name Key Characteristics
Ned Willard A devoted Protestant and an aspiring scholar who is willing to risk his life to support the Protestant cause.
Princess Elizabeth A clever and resourceful figure driven by her ambition to secure the English throne and preserve her beliefs.
Queen Mary A devout Catholic who is determined to eradicate the Protestant faith and restore Catholicism to England.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary, also known as “Bloody Mary,” is a devout Catholic who is determined to eradicate the Protestant faith and restore Catholicism to England. Although her actions are cruel and extreme, Follett portrays her as a complex and sympathetic character, haunted by her own insecurities and doubts.

Follett’s portrayal of characters in “A Column of Fire” is one of the novel’s greatest strengths, providing readers with a captivating and immersive reading experience.

Writing Style and Language

Ken Follett’s writing style and language in “A Column of Fire” is a testament to his unparalleled ability to seamlessly blend historical accuracy and compelling storytelling. The descriptive prose creates a vivid and immersive experience that transports the reader to 16th century Europe. The language is authentic, reflecting the era’s dialect, yet easy to follow, ensuring that it doesn’t disrupt the reading experience.

The intricate plot woven by Follett keeps the reader engaged, eagerly anticipating the next twist and turn. The author’s ability to interweave multiple storylines, characters, and historical events into a seamless narrative is awe-inspiring. The book is a perfect balance between historical accuracy and dramatic license, making it a delightful read for enthusiasts of both factual and fictional literature.

“It had been Follett’s ambition to combine the gripping storytelling of his thrillers with the meticulous historical detail of his medieval sagas, and with A Column of Fire he has done just that.” – The Guardian

Furthermore, Follett’s use of descriptive language in “A Column of Fire” is exemplary. He paints detailed pictures of the settings, characters, and events in a way that is evocative, rich, and unforgettable. The book is a literary masterpiece that immerses the reader in a time of upheaval and change, providing a unique window into the past.

Writing Style and Language

Thematic Analysis

Themes Explanation
The Role of Religion The book explores the impact of religion on the political and personal lives of the characters, highlighting the differing perspectives on faith and the struggle for religious liberty.
Power Struggle The story revolves around the power struggle between the Catholic and Protestant factions in Europe, shedding light on the political tensions and conflicts that defined the era.
The Search for Knowledge The pursuit of knowledge is a fundamental theme in the book, with characters employing scientific and artistic means to expand their understanding of the world, often at great personal risk.
Love and Betrayal The themes of love and betrayal are explored throughout the book, adding a human element to the political and historical events unfolding within the narrative.

Through these themes, Ken Follett explores the broader historical context, making the book not only an entertaining read but also an invaluable tool for gaining insights into the political, social, and cultural realities of the era.

Audiobook Narration

One of the key factors that can greatly enhance or detract from the overall experience of an audiobook is the quality of its narration. In the case of “A Column of Fire,” narrator John Lee delivers a stellar performance that immerses listeners in the intricate historical setting.

Lee’s voice modulation and pacing are well-suited to the story’s many twists and turns, keeping listeners engaged and eager to hear what happens next. Additionally, his ability to differentiate between the various characters’ voices adds an extra layer of depth to the audiobook.

“Lee’s narration is so captivating that you almost forget that there’s only one person reading. He truly brings the story and its characters to life.” -Audible review

Overall, the audiobook narration of “A Column of Fire” is a testament to the power of expert narration and can greatly enhance the enjoyment of the story for listeners.

Historical Accuracy

Ken Follett’s “A Column of Fire” is a historical fiction novel that creates a compelling and authentic historical backdrop through its seamless blend of real-world events with fictional elements. The book presents an insightful exploration of the religious and political conflicts of the 16th century, drawing from the tumultuous period’s historical context.

The level of historical accuracy presented in the novel is noteworthy. Follett’s attention to detail is evident in the portrayal of real-life characters such as Elizabeth I, Mary Stuart, and Catherine de’ Medici, who appear alongside the fictional characters. The author’s meticulous research of the era is highlighted throughout the book, providing readers with a rich and informative account of the historical events.

For instance, Follett’s description of the English Reformation and the rise of Protestantism accurately reflects the political, economic, and social factors of the time. The fictional elements of the novel are seamlessly woven into the historical framework, providing a fresh perspective on the era’s events.

“Ken Follett’s ability to use historical facts and weave them into the literary world is remarkable. He has an extraordinary ability to bring history to life through his narrative, adding depth to characters and emotional connections for readers.” – The Washington Post

Overall, “A Column of Fire” is an excellent illustration of how historical accuracy can be presented effectively in fictional work.

Themes and Messages

Ken Follett’s “A Column of Fire” explores a range of themes and messages that resonate with readers. The novel provides a vivid portrayal of religious strife, political ambitions, and the pursuit of knowledge, highlighting the timeless human struggles that persist throughout history.

At its core, “A Column of Fire” is a story about the human experience, with themes of love, betrayal, and redemption woven throughout the narrative. The book is a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, highlighting the perseverance of individuals and communities in the face of adversity.

One of the central messages of the book is the power of friendship and human connection. The novel’s characters form deep bonds with one another, overcoming their differences in pursuit of shared goals. Follett’s portrayal of these relationships underscores the importance of human connection and the strength that can be derived from a supportive community.

Another key theme explored in “A Column of Fire” is the importance of standing up for one’s beliefs. The novel’s protagonists must navigate treacherous political waters, putting everything on the line in pursuit of their goals. Follett’s portrayal of these characters highlights the importance of conviction and courage in the face of adversity.

“A Column of Fire” is a rich exploration of the human experience, delving into timeless themes that resonate with readers of all backgrounds and interests. With its vivid portrayal of historical events and its deeply developed characters, this book is a true masterpiece of the historical fiction genre.

Critique and Reception

Since its release, “A Column of Fire” by Ken Follett has garnered widespread attention and acclaim. The novel has received mixed reviews from critics and readers alike, with some praising its intricate plot and vibrant characters, while others criticize its length and slower pacing.

One reviewer from The New York Times lauded the book, stating that “it is the breadth of the novel that impresses most and makes it stand out in the genre,” while another from The Guardian felt that “the sheer scale and detail of the book, while impressive, weighs down the story.”

Despite the varying opinions, “A Column of Fire” has become a New York Times Bestseller and remains a favorite among historical fiction fans.

“Ken Follett’s latest installment is a treat for fans of the genre, with its intricate plot, vividly portrayed characters, and historical accuracy.”

The Historical Novels Review


After delving into Ken Follett’s “A Column of Fire” audiobook, it’s clear why this historical fiction novel has garnered widespread acclaim. The richly developed characters, intricate plot, and vivid historical backdrop provide a captivating listening experience.

Follett’s storytelling style seamlessly blends real-world events with fictional elements, creating an authentic and immersive narrative. The audiobook narration enhances the experience, with the narrator’s voice modulation and pacing adding depth and dimension to the story.

Overall, “A Column of Fire” is a must-listen for fans of historical fiction or anyone who enjoys a well-crafted tale. The powerful themes and messages explored throughout the novel provide valuable insights into religious and political strife, making it a thought-provoking read.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a captivating audiobook that transports you to a tumultuous era, “A Column of Fire” should be at the top of your list.

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