From the publishers that brought you A Game of Thrones comes the series that inspired George R.R. Martin’s epic work.
The King is dead. Long live the King. With King Philip IV dead, and the Kingdom left in disarray, as the fatal curse of the Templars plagues the royal house of France. Imprisoned in Chateau Gaillard, Marguerite of Burgundy has fallen into disgrace. Her infidelity has left her estranged husband, Louis X King of France, with neither heir nor wife.
The web of scandal, murder and intrigue that once wove itself around the Iron King continues to afflict his descendants, as the destruction of his dynasty continues at the hands of fate.
©1955 Maurice Druon (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
"Dramatic and colourful as a Dumas romance but stiffened by historical accuracy and political insight" (The Sunday Times)
"Barbaric, sensual, teeming with life, based in wide reading and sound scholarship…among the best historical novels" (The Times Literary Supplement)
Like "The Iron King," this fine novel features profoundly real characters and the bitter but fascinating verity of historical reality.
Apologies in advance it's a little bit free form, I was just throwing it together and it got to be longer than I expected, hope its readable.
I read these books when I was younger, and I honestly was surprised to find them on here after many years not being released or being out of print these books were always hard to find in English. I know in both French and Russian they were very popular for many decades (and were recently made into mini-series with Gérard Depardieu in the role of the last Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay).
Having listened to them now, I also have a whole new perspective of the Game of Throne books (another favorite), while these are very different genre the similarities between middle ages Europe and Westeros are amazing. I think the debt George RR Martin owes to historic fiction like this underlines a generation of writers for whom history was/is a source of inspiration.
The performance is solid four stars, the only person I can think would sound better is Roy Dotrice.
This Series focuses on the events leading up to the 100 year was and the end of Capetian dynasty of France. For most people that's not exciting I suppose, but if you need a fix for Westeros while George is taking his time, this can be a touch of methadone (minus dragons and elaborate banner descriptions).
Additional value of this genre it actually opens you up to experience history through actions and character traits of real historical personages, even if embellished for fiction.
This particular book shows the France at a time when the feudal system was being dismantles for the sake nation states. When visionary kings began to centralize their authority from the feudal lords and consolidate it by relying on commerce and rising middle classes.
Maurice Druon wasn't just a historian and writer but also a member of the French government and I think he brings much of his own perspective on power and role of personalities and motivations in the events that change the course of countries.
Just like the first book, this one also felt real with the added benefit of the back story from The Iron King.
The suspense, I had no idea what was going to happen (resisting the impulse of going to Wikipedia for historical spoilers) kept me on the edge of my seat … or actually tablet.
Two scenes, the meetings between Robert and the Queen at Chateau Gaillard, all kinds of emotion were expressed, anger, desire, hope, sadness, manipulation…. And even kindness.
True anxiety before the Queen dies, I felt every moment.
Can’t wait to see the characters again in Book 3, they now feel so familiar.
"Lost in translation"
The original books by Druon were published in the 1950s, which gives them a certain style which omits most of the standard bodice-rippery that became an epidemic of saucy and dodgy sex. This is a great thing, as it allowed Druon to concentrate on the stories and characters, without trying to sandwich in as much sex as possible to sell it to the masses.
Instead, the series which starts with The Iron King (available happily as an Audible Book), covers history and the people who made it happen at the highest levels with an eye to detail and attention to the nuances that could move a country to war or a person to murder.
There's greed, revenge (always fun), power and its abuse. Love, of course, as well as the depths of hate. Sometimes these are combined in one person, which makes for entertaining reading.
The translations are not always as smooth as I'd like, probably because there is such a gap in idiom between the 50s and now, as well as cultural differences between the original French and modern English. None of it is damaging to the story, which is performed with a steady and smooth performance by Peter Joyce.
All in all, it's well worth a listen, it's faithful to the original and is a pleasant change from unrelenting gore and sex.
"Factual and entertaining"
I listened to and read a lot of historical novels. As this book was written in the 1950's and is a translation of the original French, I was bit nervous about whether this would live up to the modern historical novels I have read. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed. Its a different style of novel but I found it easy to get sucked into the story.
I don't think I can pick out one scene that is the most 'memorable'. The best thing about this book is that its historically informative while still being a entertaining story. There isn't too many dry facts and dates. Its written so you understand the time and the history behind the story but doesn't make you feel like you are listening to a history textbook. It also doesn't go too far the other way and try and give you a heart stopping tale at the neglect of the facts.
I have now moved onto the next book in the trilogy and Peter Joyce is narrating this one as well. I really enjoy his narration. His captures the different emotions of the characters with a smooth style.
Again, there wasn't a moment that particularly moved me, but the plight of the queen, Marguerite of Burgundy who was imprisoned in Chateau Gaillard really draws you in and makes you think about her life. She is powerful by the nature of her position and yet powerless to do anything in the face of the revenge and ambition of those who were closest to her.
This is a great book. It ended too soon and left me wanting to find out more about lives of the people written about. Thankfully there are others in the series and I am already listening to those. I would recommend this book to all fans of historical fiction.
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