Whenever I need a grown-up book to read, I ask Karen for a recommendation. Here’s her review of Ken Follet’s latest novel – don’t miss it!
Every staff member at our library has our certain genre that we tend to read, and I can credit the Ken Follett book The Pillars of the Earth for my love of historical fiction. I remember when it came out back in 1989, and savoring the whole 900 + pages of it. Goodreads says “Ken Follett is known worldwide as the master of split-second suspense, but his most beloved and bestselling book tells the magnificent tale of a twelfth-century monk driven to do the seemingly impossible: build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.”
World Without End, published in 2007, takes place in the same town of Kingsbridge, two centuries after the townspeople finished building the exquisite Gothic cathedral that was at the heart of The Pillars of the Earth. The cathedral and the priory are again at the center of a web of love and hate, greed and pride, ambition and revenge, but this sequel stands on its own.
The long awaited third book in the Kingsbridge trilogy, A Column of Fire, skips ahead several centuries and includes a whole new cast of characters. In 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love.
Ned Willard wants nothing more than to marry Margery Fitzgerald. But when the lovers find themselves on opposing sides of the religious conflict dividing the country, Ned goes to work for Princess Elizabeth. When she becomes queen, all Europe turns against England. The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions, and invasion plans. Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. Elizabeth clings to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents.
The real enemies, then as now, are not the rival religions. The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else—no matter what the cost.
While all three books can be read as standalones, I was compelled to go back and read the first two (loved them as much the second time around!) and am looking forward to the new characters and intrigue in 16th century Kingsbridge in A Column of Fire.