An epic continuation of the series that began with The Pillars of the Earth, The Armor of Light heralds a new dawn for Kingsbridge, England, where progress clashes with tradition, class struggles push into every part of society, and war in Europe engulfs the entire continent and beyond
The Spinning Jenny was invented in 1770, and with that, a new era of manufacturing and industry changed lives everywhere within a generation. A world filled with unrest wrestles for control over this new world order: A mother’s husband is killed in a work accident due to negligence; a young woman fights to fund her school for impoverished children; a well-intentioned young man unexpectedly inherits a failing business; one man ruthlessly protects his wealth no matter the cost, all the while war cries are heard from France, as Napoleon sets forth a violent master plan to become emperor of the world. As institutions are challenged and toppled in unprecedented fashion, ripples of change ricochet through our characters’ lives as they are left to reckon with the future and a world they must rebuild from the ashes of war.
Over thirty years ago, Ken Follett published his most popular novel, The Pillars of the Earth. Now, with this electrifying addition to the Kingsbridge series we are plunged into the battlefield between compassion and greed, love and hate, progress and tradition. It is through each character that we are given a new perspective to the seismic shifts that shook the world in nineteenth-century Europe.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Cultural change thrusts Europe into chaos in this rousing historical novel from master storyteller Ken Follett. The French monarchy has fallen, Napoleon is arming for conquest, and the Industrial Revolution is displacing laborers. The people of Kingsbridge, England, face new challenges and hardships as their lives and livelihoods fall apart. In the fourth book of his popular Kingsbridge series, Follett explores 19th-century upheaval through the eyes of workers and landed gentry. His eye for detail and talent for weaving important events with fictional people remain top-notch. It’s easy to fall in love with Follett’s characters, and we fell particularly hard for Sal, who takes so many hits to the heart but grits her teeth and slogs onward. Witness history in a fresh, exciting light with The Armor of Light.
The fourth entry in Follett's Kingsbridge series (after A Column of Fire) is another vibrant survey of British history from the perspective of ordinary people, this time spanning from 1792 to 1824. That scope allows Follett to cover the impact of new technology—the spinning jenny, which worked eight times as fast as the traditional spinning wheel—as well as nascent efforts by the English working class to speak up for their rights. Those developments are made accessible through characters such as Sal Clitheroe, whose husband, Harry, is fatally injured while harvesting the squire of Badford's turnip crop. His death is caused by the negligence and callousness of the squire's son, Will Riddick, who was overseeing the harvest, and instigates a cascade of hardships for Sal and her six-year-old son, Kit. When Sal's request for financial assistance from the area's Poor Relief Fund is refused, Kit is forced into service in the very home of the man responsible for his father's death. The Clitheroe family's thread is deftly interwoven with other storylines, including those of Elsie Latimer, the bishop's daughter, who seeks to provide free education for the underprivileged, and clothier Amos Barrowfield, who wants to restore the family business to profitability. Follett is equally adept at portraying the horrors of war and his characters' quiet moments of despair. The result is an impressive and immersive epic.
…never fails to tell a tale that could be told in 400 pages in about 800 pages. He does, however, write beautifully.
I’ve enjoyed them all.
The latest was enjoyable and at times exciting, mostly Waterloo. But, I pretty much knew what was going to happen before I got there. Pretty good story, not enough intrigue and excitement.
Good, but not up to Follett standards
I’ve read all of the other books in this series and this one lags behind the rest. It’s a fine read - but the characters and story line lack the usual luster.