In the midst of the French Revolution, unwed mother Marie-Louise Girardin takes one last look at her baby son before entrusting him to her friend, the revolutionary Olympe de Gouges. She must escape, and only the most daring plan will bring her both the anonymity she needs and the independence to return one day for her son.
Marie-Louise disguises herself as a man and joins a voyage of exploration employed as a steward on the Recherche, one of two ships commissioned to journey to the Great Southern Ocean to find the missing explorer La Perouse.
Protecting her identity throughout, Marie-Louise forms friendships among the eccentric naturalists. But tensions rise between the royalist officers and the revolutionaries, and Marie-Louise's position becomes precarious when she discovers someone on board knows the secrets of her past. When the expedition docks in Java, chaos erupts as they learn of King Louis XVI's execution and are imprisoned by the Dutch. Marie-Louise seems certain to be unmasked. Will she ever return to France and be reunited with her child?
Inspired by a true story, Into the World is a compelling novel of the amazing life of Marie-Louise Girardin battling perilous seas, her own self-doubt, and finding unforeseen loves on a journey to reclaim her child.
AD 636. Anglo-Saxon Britain. Whilst escorting a group of holy men, Beobrand becomes embroiled in a conflict with the Mercian army. In the chaos that ensues, secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true.
Beobrand has land, men and riches. He should be content. And yet he cannot find peace until his enemies are food for the ravens. But before Beobrand can embark on his bloodfeud, King Oswald orders him southward, to escort holy men bearing sacred relics. When Penda of Mercia marches a warhost into the southern kingdoms, Beobrand and his men are thrown into the midst of the conflict. Beobrand soon finds himself fighting for his life and his honour.
In the chaos that grips the south, dark secrets are exposed, bringing into question much that Beobrand had believed true. Can he unearth the answers and exact the vengeance he craves? Or will the blood-price prove too high, even for a warrior of his battle-fame and skill?
The saga that has enthralled the millions of readers of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett's magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire.
Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed.
The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Europe is in turmoil as high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald.
Then Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen and all of 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.
Elizabeth knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Part of a brutally ambitious French family, Mary has been proclaimed the rightful ruler of England, with her own supporters scheming to get rid of the new queen.
Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. With Elizabeth clinging precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents, it becomes clear that 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 the cost.
The first book in the Birth of the Plantagenets series is sumptuous, rich historical fiction for fans of Wolf Hall and Game of Thrones.
Queen Eleanor of France, said to be the most beautiful woman in Europe, has not been able to give birth to an heir. A strategic liaison with Geoffrey the Handsome, the virile and charming Duke of Normandy, could remedy that - or lead to her downfall and Geoffrey's death.
What begins with cool calculation becomes a passionate affair. Despite his love for Eleanor, however, Geoffrey has larger plans: to help his warrior son, Henry, seize the English throne.
When Henry saves his father from discovery and execution by the French, he falls foul of Eleanor - and madly in love with her Byzantine maid. Should he become King of England, however, this dazzling woman will never be acceptable as his queen.
These intertwined relationships - heated, forbidden and perilous - are the heart of a vivid story of ambition, vengeance and political intrigue set in the glorious flowering of troubadour culture, mysticism and learning that is twelfth-century France.
The second book in the captivating Birth of the Plantagenets series brings the twelfth-century reign of Henry II and his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine to vivid life, from bestselling author Blanche d'Alpuget.
1154. After years of manipulation and political cunning, young Henry II accedes to the throne of England, with the beautiful and indomitable Eleanor of Aquitaine by his side.
But the kingdom he inherits is an impoverished shambles after the long, troubled reign of Stephen the Usurper. Together, the tempestuous royal couple use their charisma and shrewd diplomacy to restore England's prestige and power, and ensure the future of their mighty dynasty.
In order to replenish the English treasury, Henry appoints Thomas Becket, the unordained Archdeacon of Canterbury, as Chancellor. Becket is no ordinary man: born without rank, he is charming, quick-witted, a masterful intriguer and a lavish dresser with a genius for raising money. Beneath this lies a man seething with ambition, jealousy, treachery and desire.
In a dance of scheming, vengeance and forbidden passions, during one of the most turbulent and compelling periods of English history, Henry, Eleanor and Becket fight for political power and control against forces seen and imagined - each with their own agenda, each determined to hide their own shameful secrets.
`The character of Thomas Becket will rivet readers as they have not been riveted since Hilary Mantel's Thomas Cromwell.' Thomas Keneally, AO
William of Normandy has returned home in triumph, fresh from defeating King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. He has been forced to bring with him a band of potentially treacherous English nobles, whom he cannot trust to leave behind.
Waltheof of Huntingdon is one such man, but rebellion couldn't be further from his mind. From the moment he catches sight of Judith, the daughter of the King William's formidable sister, he knows he has found his future wife and it is clear the attraction is mutual.
But love has little do to with marriage in medieval Europe, and it is up to William to decide if the match should go ahead. After all, would a match between a Saxon earl and Norman lady be without complications?