A Column of Fire

by Ken Follett

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 186

A Column of Fire takes places in the 1550s in England. Henry VIII's eldest daughter Mary I is the ruling queen during this time, and she is determined to make England a Catholic country once more. This greatly concerns the nobles, who have accumulated immense wealth due to the seizure of land formerly owned by the Catholic church. Nevertheless, she persisted. Queen Mary eventually earned the terrible nickname "Bloody Mary" by ordering the murder of hundreds of Protestants. The novel focuses on three main characters: Rollo Fitzgerald, a man who wants to see the Queen dethroned, Ned Willard, a man who will soon join the royal family as a sort of bodyguard, and Margery, Rollo's sisters and Ned's paramour. Margery and Ned long to wed, but Margery and Rollo's parents have already arranged a marriage for Margery to someone of much higher social status. After many years and many tragedies, Ned and Margery are finally able to get back together later in life. In the epilogue, an older Ned, having outlived Margery, writes about his next big adventure: a trip on a ship called the Mayflower.

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