International bestselling author Ken Follett has enthralled millions of readers with the first two books of his Kingsbridge series, The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. The saga now continues with Follett’s magnificent new epic, A Column of Fire.
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, high principles clash bloodily with 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 divide sweeping across 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 precariously 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.
Set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history, A Column of Fire is one of Follett’s most exciting and ambitious works yet, and is perfect both for longtime fans of the Kingsbridge series as well as readers new to Ken Follett.
Philippa Gregory - Three Sisters, Three Queens
As sisters they share an everlasting bond; As queens they can break each other’s hearts. “There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.” When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined—with Margaret’s younger sister Mary—to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland, and France. United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss, and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.
Ken Follett - World Without End
World Without End 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. This time the men and women of an extraordinary cast of characters find themselves at a crossroad of new ideas--about medicine, commerce, architecture, and justice. In a world where proponents of the old ways fiercely battle those with progressive minds, the intrigue and tension quickly reach a boiling point against the devastating backdrop of the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race--the Black Death.
Philippa Gregory - The Other Queen
A dramatic novel of passion, politics and betrayal from the author of The Other Boleyn Girl, in which Mary, Queen of Scots, fights to regain her kingdom whilst under the guard of Queen Elizabeth's trusted accomplice, Bess of Hardwick. With her characteristic combination of superb storytelling and authentic historical background, Philippa Gregory brings to life this period of great change, in a riveting tale of betrayal, loyalty, politics and passion.
Philippa Gregory - The Constant Princess
Splendid and sumptuous historical novel from this internationally bestselling author, telling of the early life of Katherine of Aragon. We think of her as the barren wife of a notorious king; but behind this legacy lies a fascinating story. Katherine of Aragon is born Catalina, the Spanish Infanta, to parents who are both rulers and warriors. Aged four, she is betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, and is raised to be Queen of England. She is never in doubt that it is her destiny to rule that far-off, wet, cold land. Her faith is tested when her prospective fahter-in-law greets her arrival in her new country with a great insult; Arthur seems little better than a boy; the food is strange and the customs coarse. Slowly she adapts to the first Tudor court, and life as Arthur's wife grows ever more bearable. But when the studious young man dies, she is left to make her own future: how can she now be queen, and found a dynasty? Only by marrying Arthur's young brother, the sunny but spoilt Henry. His father and grandmother are against it; her powerful parents prove little use. Yet Katherine is her mother's daughter and her fighting spirit is strong. She will do anything to achieve her aim; even if it means telling the greatest lie, and holding to it. Philippa Gregory proves yet again that behind the apparently familiar face of history lies an astonishing story: of women warriors influencing the future of Europe, of revered heroes making deep mistakes, and of an untold love story which changes the fate of a nation.
C. J. Sansom - Dark Fire
It is 1540 and the hottest summer of the sixteenth century. Matthew Shardlake, believing himself out of favour with Thomas Cromwell, is busy trying to maintain his legal practice and keeping a low profile. But his involvement with a murder case, defending a girl accused of brutally murdering her young cousin, brings him once again into contact with the king's chief minister - and a new assignment... The secret of Greek Fire, the legendary substance with which the Byzantines destroyed the Arab navies, has been lost for centuries. Now an official of the Court of Augmentations has discovered the formula in the library of a dissolved London monastery. When Shardlake is sent to recover it, he finds the official and his alchemist brother brutally murdered - the formula has disappeared. Now, Shardlake must follow the trail of Greek Fire across Tudor London, while trying at the same time to prove his young client's innocence. But very soon he discovers nothing is as it seems...
Philippa Gregory - The Kingmaker's Daughter
In The Kingmaker’s Daughter, #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents the riveting story of Anne Neville, her sister Isabel, and their ever-changing fortunes.The Kingmaker’s Daughter is the gripping and ultimately tragic story of the daughters of the man known as the “Kingmaker,” the most powerful magnate in England through the Cousins’ Wars. In the absence of a son and heir, he uses the two girls as pawns in his political games, but they grow up to be influential players in their own right. In this novel, her first sister story since The Other Boleyn Girl, Gregory explores the lives of two fascinating young women. At the court of Edward IV and his beautiful queen, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne grows from a delightful child brought up in intimacy and friendship with the family of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, to become ever more fearful and desperate when her father makes war on his former friends. Her will is tested when she is left widowed and fatherless, with her mother in sanctuary and her sister married to the enemy. Fortune’s wheel turns again when Richard rescues Anne from her sister’s house, with danger still following Anne, even as she eventually ascends to the throne as queen. Having lost those closest to her, she must protect herself and her precious only child, Prince Edward, from a court full of royal rivals.
C. J. Sansom - Revelation
Spring, 1543. King Henry VIII is wooing Lady Catherine Parr, whom he wants for his sixth wife. Archbishop Cranmer and the embattled Protestant faction at court are watching keenly, for Lady Catherine is known to have reformist sympathies. Matthew Shardlake, meanwhile, is working on the case of a teenage boy who has been placed in the Bedlam insane asylum, before his terrifying religious mania leads to him being burned as a heretic. When an old friend is horrifically murdered Shardlake vows to bring the killer to justice. His search leads him to Cranmer and Catherine Parr - and to the dark prophecies of the "Book of Revelation". As London's Bishop Bonner prepares a purge of Protestants Shardlake, together with his assistant, Jack Barak, and his friend Guy Malton, investigate a series of horrific murders which are already bringing frenzied talk of witchcraft and demonic possession - for what else would the Tudor mind make of a serial killer...?
Michael Farquhar - Behind the Palace Doors
Spanning 500 years of British history, a revealing look at the secret lives of some great (and not-so-great) Britons, courtesy of one of the world’s most engaging royal historians Beleaguered by scandal, betrayed by faithless spouses, bedeviled by ambitious children, the kings and queens of Great Britain have been many things, but they have never been dull. Some sacrificed everything for love, while others met a cruel fate at the edge of an axman’s blade. From the truth behind the supposed madness of King George to Queen Victoria’s surprisingly daring taste in sculpture, Behind the Palace Doors ventures beyond the rumors to tell the unvarnished history of Britain’s monarchs, highlighting the unique mix of tragedy, comedy, romance, heroism, and incompetence that has made the British throne a seat of such unparalleled fascination. Featuring: • stories covering every monarch, from randy Henry VIII to reserved Elizabeth II • historical myths debunked and surprising “Did you know . . . ?” anecdotes • four family trees spanning every royal house, from the Tudors to the Windsors
Suzannah Dunn - The Queen of Subtleties
With rhetorical grace, author Suzannah Dunn brings a tumultuous era to life in The Queen of Subtleties, as she boldly reimagines the rise and descent of a legendary queen, Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII. After just three years of marriage and many more years of turmoil, Boleyn would die by the headsman's sword, leaving behind a young daughter destined to rule as the greatest of all British monarchs.
Mary Ann Shaffer - Annie Barrows - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet's name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book's epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet's quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.
Alison Weir - Innocent Traitor
Alison Weir, our pre-eminent popular historian, has now fulfilled a life's ambition to write historical fiction. She has chosen as her subject the bravest, most sympathetic and most wronged woman of Tudor England, Lady Jane Grey. Lady Jane Grey was born into the most dangerous of times. Child of a scheming father and a ruthless mother for whom she is a pawn in a dynastic game with the highest stakes, she lived a life in thrall to political machinations and lethal religious fervour. Growing up with the future Queen Elizabeth and her reluctant nemesis, Mary, she soon learns the truth of the values imparted to her by Henry VIII's last Queen, Katherine Parr. Her honesty, intelligence and strength of character carries the enthralled reader through all the vicious twists of Tudor power politics, to her nine-day reign and its unbearably poignant conclusion. Alison Weir states: 'Lady Jane Grey's story is compelling and shocking. She was a young girl of royal blood who was used by greedy and unscrupulous men to satisfy their own ambitions. Having been the victim of abuse in childhood, she was sold into an unhappy marriage and forced to accept a crown she did not want, then tragically paid the price of her so-called treason.' 'After publishing nine history books, writing this novel filled me with a heady sense of freedom. No longer was I tied to sources and to the strict discipline of historical interpretation, but I could give my imagination free reign. Thus it was wonderful to be creative, and even provocative, at the same time as being historically accurate to a degree.'
Brandy Purdy - The Boleyn Wife
Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue—until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal. . . Encompassing the reigns of four of Henry's wives, from the doomed Anne to the reckless Katherine Howard, The Boleyn Wife is an unforgettable story of ambition, lust, and jealousy, of the power of love to change the course of history, and of the terrible price of revenge.
C. J. Sansom - Sovereign
It is autumn, 1541. Following the uncovering of a plot against his throne in Yorkshire, King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to overawe his rebellious subjects there. Accompanied by a thousand soldiers, the cream of the nobility, and his fifth wife Catherine Howard, the King is to attend an extravagant submission of the local gentry at York. Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission - to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation. But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. As the Great Progress arrives in the city, Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers that holds danger for the King's throne, and a chain of events unfolds that will lead Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age.
Elizabeth Chadwick - Shields of Pride
The year is 1173. King Henry's efforts to crush his rebellious sons ignite bloody border skirmishes throughout the land. Yet it is a time of triumph for mercenary Josceline de Gael, bastard son of the king's most trusted ally. Victorious on the battlefield, de Gael suffers sweet defeat when his heart is conquered by the lovely Linnet de Montsorrel. But their love will find its greatest challenge as the torments of jealousy, suspicion, pride - and an enemy from beyond the grave - threaten all they hold dear.
Sharon Penman - When Christ and His Saints Slept
Set in 12th-century England and the early civil war between Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Maude, this story tells of a long fight to win the English throne. Stephen was handsome and unreliable; Maude was courageous, beautiful and arrogant. They fought for twenty years and devasted England.
Mary Hooper - Fallen Grace
Grace Parkes has just had to do a terrible thing. Having given birth to an illegitimate child, she has travelled to the famed Brookwood Cemetery to place her small infant's body in a rich lady's coffin. Following the advice of a kindly midwife, this is the only way that Grace can think of to give something at least to the little baby that died at birth, and to avoid the ignominy of a pauper's grave. Distraught and weeping, Grace meets two people at the cemetery: Mrs Unwin and James Solent. These two characters will have a profound affect upon Grace's life. But Grace doesn't know that yet. For now, she has to suppress her grief and get on with the business of living: scraping together enough pennies selling watercress for rent and food; looking after her older sister, who is incapable of caring for herself; thwarting the manipulative and conscience-free Unwin family who are as capable of running a lucrative funeral business as they are of defrauding a young woman of her fortune. This is a stunning evocation of life in Victorian London, with vivid and accurate depictions of the deprivation that the truly poor suffered, to the unthinking luxuries enjoyed by the rich, all bound up with a pacy and thrilling plot as Grace races to unravel the fraud that is about to be perpetrated against her and her sister.
Hilary Mantel - Bring Up the Bodies
The sequel to the Man Booker-winning Wolf Hall. 'My boy Thomas, give him a dirty look and he'll gouge your eye out. Trip him, and he'll cut off your leg,' says Walter Cromwell in the year 1500. 'But if you don't cut across him he's a very gentleman. And he'll stand anyone a drink.' By 1535 Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith's son, is far from his humble origins. Chief Minister to Henry VIII, his fortunes have risen with those of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife, for whose sake Henry has broken with Rome and created his own church. But Henry's actions have forced England into dangerous isolation, and Anne has failed to do what she promised: bear a son to secure the Tudor line. When Henry visits Wolf Hall, Cromwell watches as Henry falls in love with the silent, plain Jane Seymour. The minister sees what is at stake: not just the king's pleasure, but the safety of the nation. As he eases a way through the sexual politics of the court, its miasma of gossip, he must negotiate a 'truth' that will satisfy Henry and secure his own career. But neither minister nor king will emerge undamaged from the bloody theatre of Anne's final days. In 'Bring up the Bodies', sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning 'Wolf Hall', Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn. This new novel is a speaking picture, an audacious vision of Tudor England that sheds its light on the modern world. It is the work of one of our great writers at the height of her powers.
Mary Hooper - The Fever and the Flame
This work includes two tales following the remarkable life of a girl in London in the tumultuous years of the Great Plague and the Great Fire. Hannah is excited as she is about to embark upon her first ever trip to London to help her sister in her shop 'The Sugared Plum', making sweetmeats for the gentry. She does not, however, get the reception she expected from her sister Sarah. Instead of giving Hannah a hearty welcome, Sarah is horrified that Hannah did not get her message to stay away - the Plague is taking hold of London. In the second of these stories, Hannah returns to her beloved London to re-open the sweetmeats shop with younger sister Anne. Londoners are reeling from the plague epidemic of the previous year, but Hannah and Anne are keen to start enjoying everything the bustling city has to offer. But this is 1666, and it has been prophesised that terrible things will happen, and on Pudding Lane, flames are raging through the bakery Based on meticulous research, Mary Hooper evokes with complete mastery the sights, sounds and terror of a London gripped firstly by the shocking and gruesome plague, and then by the ferocious and terrible fire.
Edward Rutherfurd - Ireland Awakening
Few authors are as ambitious as Edward Rutherford. And Dublin: Foundation, the first of a massive two-part epic, is possibly Rutherford's most challenging undertaking yet--and (on the evidence of this first book) could well be his most considerable achievement. Rutherford's sheer readability belies his obvious seriousness. His arm-straining volumes may cover every possible variety of human experience (couched in historical backgrounds of immense detail and authenticity), but he remains a storyteller of no mean skills. From the early books that made his name (notably the much-acclaimed Sarum), through to the more recent blockbuster London, the author has combined a panoramic, Homeric vision with a James-Joyce like concentration on the minutiae of everyday life; the results of this synthesis are brought to perfectly honed effect in Dublin: Foundation. Parallels with Joyce's Dublin are not appropriate here, though. The scope is far wider and stretches back into history. Beginning in Pre-Christian Ireland as the Kings of Tara reigned autocratically, we encounter the lovers Prince Conall and the beautiful Deidre. An army sized dramatis personae surround the lovers, representing every player in a turbulent era. We are shown many of the key events in Irish history, with parts for Saint Patrick, the Nordic savagery of the Vikings and the battles with the cunning Henry VIII. As this operatic volume ends with the approach of the Reformation, the orchestration of narrative commands total respect. --Barry Forshaw
Edward Rutherfurd - Sarum
In a novel of extraordinary richness, the whole sweep of British civilization unfolds through the story of one place, Salisbury, from beyond recorded time to the present day. The landscape - as old as time itself - shapes the destinies of the five families. The Wilsons and the Shockleys, locked in a cycle of revenge and rivalry for more than 400 years. The Masons, who pour their inspired love of stone into the creation of Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral. The Porters, descended from a young Roman soldier in exile. And the aristocratic Norman Godefrois, who will fall to the very bottom of the social ladder before their fortunes revive.