1558- England is a land torn by religious conflict and an uncertain political future. Ned Willard, the son of successful merchants in Knightsbridge, sees his future changed as the struggle for the monarchy between Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth develops. Trade with Europe is affected and through a series of misfortunes, Ned must make the decision to go to London and work for Sir Francis Walsingham who is developing a secret service for Elizabeth. When she ascends to the throne, Ned becomes the spymaster, Walsingham's, trusted assistant.
Follett intertwines the stories of the Guises, powerful French Catholics, with the Huguenots who risk torture and their lives to worship as Protestants. Then there are the star-crossed lovers, the pirates, and adventurers. The Knightbridge part of the story occurs in the shadow of the great Cathedral built centuries before and A Column of Fire completes the trilogy begun with Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. Through the engaging characters, Follett describes the dawn of England's secret service, the terrible era of religious intolerance, and cruel times that were England and Europe's in the 1500's.
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