Third novel in the Kingsbridge series unveiled
Ken Follett's latest novel A Column of Fire - third in the Kingsbridge series - was unveiled to international booksellers at a reception hosted by Pan Macmillan md Anthony Forbes Watson at the Dorchester during LBF.
Introducing Follett, Forbes Watson described him as "the most professional of our authors", and paid tribute to his exhaustive research, which involved reading over 200 books and visiting sites featured in the novel in the UK, Spain, France and the Low Countries.
In his speech to the 100-strong audience, Follett revealed that the story of the new novel began in England in 1558, at the court of the Princess Elizabeth, soon to be Queen. It then explores Elizabeth's reign in the context of her status as the only major Protestant monarch in Europe, and as target for overseas plots. Espionage, and the establishment of the first English secret service, is another theme, against the backdrop of the epoch-defining struggle over religion. "I think a book should actually be about something that readers know is really important, like D-Day or the Russian Revolution." It features a character Follett described as a "16th-century James Bond".
The book is a sequel to The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, Follett's medieval epics set in the imagined city of Kingsbridge: "I'm still fond of Kingsbridge, so we get to spend a lot of time there." Given those were multi-million sellers and this is set in the perenially popular Tudor period, Forbes Watson is confident of similar success.
Follett, who no longer has an agent, used his own organisation to produce a six-minute, glossy video to launch the novel, which follows the author as he researches locations across western Europe and provides a taster of text.
The film will be used during events for the launch of the book, which is set for 21 September in the UK.
Follett was accompanied by his wife Barbara, culture minister during Tony Blair's administration, and stayed on to sign proof copies for booksellers.
Photo: Ken Follett (centre) with the Pan Mac team; on his left is Anthony Forbes Watson, and on his right is publisher Jeremy Trevathan.