The Armor of Light

Books on Tape. (Kingsbridge, Bk. 4). Sept. 2023. 21:39 hrs. ISBN 9780593789636. $95. F
The cultured, versatile voice of British actor, narrator, and playwright John Lee enlivens Follett’s latest installment in the “Kingsbridge” series (following 2017’s A Column of Fire). Follett takes listeners to the late 18th and early 19th centuries, as the English village of Kingsbridge and its inhabitants contend with societal change and political tumult. Lee dramatically voices the novel’s many characters, skillfully depicting a dangerous era when a child could be hanged for stealing a spool of thread or a printer could be flogged for possessing a pamphlet that criticizes the government. Lee conveys the growing tension within the industrial sector as technological advancements such as the spinning jenny threatened jobs and ushered in trade unions and the fractious Luddite movement. Follett’s striking characters and arresting storyline make for a riveting narrative. Though part of a series, the novel is easily accessible as a stand-alone.
VERDICT A hefty but entirely satisfying listen for Follett’s many fans and for those interested in the dynamics of early capitalism and the juxtaposition of compassion and greed during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. This is a solid addition to any collection of historical fiction, especially for libraries that own the other novels in the series.
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