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Book Review: A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

I was apprehensive while taking up ‘A Column of Fire’ for two reasons. I have not read ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ and ‘World Without End’ by Ken Follett, so I was not sure whether I would sync with the trilogy. Secondly, I tend to lose interest in books that are more than 400 pages long. However, this book was a breezy read and I am not the least disappointed for signing up to review it.

‘A Column of Fire’ is a tale of love, political espionage and faith, set in Elizabethan England. With the narrative set in one of darkest periods of history, it gives us an insight into the infamous time of religious conflict. Europe is divided between Catholics and Protestants and Ned Willard, eager to reunite with the love of life, must make a choice which side he wishes to join.

Ned chose to work for Protestant Princess Elizabeth, thereby bidding goodbye to his Kingsbridge connection – his friends, family and above all Margery Fitzgerald, who is married off to a Catholic man. Queen Elizabeth’s reign is fraught with religious conflicts, with the conservative Catholics decrying her liberal views. Elizabeth constitutes her first ‘secret service’ with Ned working for Sir Francis, to secure her position of power. For the next five decades, we witness Ned and Margery fight for their ideals. We are witness to the horrors of faith – how families are destroyed, cities are torn apart and lives are lost, all in the name of religious beliefs.

In his impeccable style, Follett weaves a fictional tale of religious-political clash, in the backdrop of historical events. A master of historical fiction, Follett’s thorough research, blended with his exceptional narrative technique, keeps you hooked to the pages. By interspersing fictional dramas with historical events, he gives us an example of how meticulous period dramas should be. From Bartholomew’s Day Massacre to the horrific execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, the episodes are detailed and keep egging you to read on.

I have always believed history is a subject, which if taught well, can be superbly interesting. Follett’s period drama takes us through a turbulent period of England’s history without burdening us with information, or sounding boring at any time. Yes, the length of the book is huge, but the narrative is free-flowing and not tedious.

Moreover, this book becomes relevant even more in today’s time when religious intolerance is at odds with liberal values on a global scale. In short, ‘A Column of Fire’ is a breezy read, specially for those in love with the historical fiction genre.

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

P.S. This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme



Book Review – Private India by Ashwin Sanghi & James Patterson

book reviewPrivate India is a collaboration between world-renowned author of the ‘Private’ series James Patterson and India’s very own thriller writer Ashwin Sanghi. Through social media marketing, a hype had been set up around the book and I guess that spelt doom for Private India.

I had huge expectations when I started reading the book. The Krishna Key was brilliant in terms of the concept and the plot and Private India comes as a big letdown. The plot is shoddy; the motive behind the series of murders is unbelievably insane. The mythological link to the plot is hardly appealing. Even the language was average. The usual snippets of knowledge shared by Ashwin Sanghi in his previous works were conspicuous by their absence.

In a bid to introduce twists in the story, the authors introduce bizarre situations. In fact, the novel could actually do without Jack Morgan’s presence in India. It seems the novel began on one track, lost control, made a detour and was hastily botched up to save paper!

The climax of the story could well have been the Tower of Silence. But it dragged on. The parts of the puzzle simply fell in place, the mystery was cracked and life was back to normal at Private India. Hari’s story was left unexplained.

By the time you reach the last page of Private India, you wish you had spent your time reading something more worthwhile.

My Rating: 2.5/5 stars

P.S. – This review is part of the Flipkart Bloggers’ Affiliate Programme 

DISCLAIMER: All Images Used In This Post Have Their Respective Copyrights

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