Ken Follet is at his best when he writes massive historical yarns. He mixes the political and social issues of the age with the lives of some very real people, people who could have existed within the eras in which he writes. And he did that here, at least, in part. The Willards and The Fitzgeralds fortunes rose and fell with the Catholic and Protestant rivalry, which came to a climax when Elizabeth I took Englands throne. Though I think this books greatest downfall is its sheer lack of depth and sense of crisis throughout.