61 pages 2 hours read

Ken Follett

A Column of Fire

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2017

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Character Analysis

Ned Willard

Ned Willard is the younger son of a prosperous merchant family in Kingsbridge. From the outset, Ned is established as the story's primary protagonist, and he narrates the sporadic first-person segments. While he is set to inherit his family's business, his life changes drastically when the Fitzgeralds destroy his family's fortune. This event leads him to work for Queen Elizabeth, and he becomes one of her most trusted advisers within her secret service. He is defined by his commitment to promoting religious tolerance and his desire to ensure that no one dies for their faith. His intelligence and his ability to manipulate people are critical to his position. Despite these skills, Ned is portrayed as an amiable person. While he is surrounded by people who advocate strongly for their religious beliefs, the novel does not define his personal beliefs as clearly. Another of Ned's defining characteristics is his admiration for strong and intelligent women, and several female characters serve as the most influential figures in his life. These include Queen Elizabeth and his mother. However, the most central to the plot is his relationship with Margery, with whom he has a lifelong love affair complicated by her family and her coerced marriage to another man.

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