This is Ken Follet’s newest book in the Kingsbridge Series. Others may know Follet for his historical spy thriller set in modern history. But the first book I read was his epic Pillars of Earth story set in medieval England, the first of the Kings bridge Series. Pillars of Earth centers around the building of a Cathedral in small English town in the 12th century. It focuses heavily on character building of people from various social standing. And although there are local events that move the book along, its really the detailed description of the character’s every day lives that makes the book’s plot.
A Column of Fire, like the sequel A World Without End, follows the ancestors of the characters in Pillars of Earth. It takes place in the 16th century, starting shortly before Queen Elizabeth takes the throne. In contrast to Pillars of Earth, it takes a more global scope and the international current events of the day controls the plot. His theme of examining the common man or woman’s relationship with religion continues as a large part of the story revolves around the Catholic and Protestant disputes.
While still a fantastic, in depth story, I was a bit disappointed by the international plot which I thought was more similar to his Century Trilogy and prevented Follet from achieving the same quality of character development he had in Pillars of Earth.