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SusannaG

SusannaG - Confessions of a Crazy Cat Lady

Just another GR refugee.  Other than that, I had a stroke in 2004, and read almost anything I can get my hands on, though I have a particular weakness for history, mystery, and historical fiction.

Currently reading

Scars of Independence: America's Violent Birth
Holger Hoock
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Yuval Noah Harari Dr
Progress: 9 %
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
John Guy
Progress: 20/512 pages
Lady Cop Makes Trouble
Amy Stewart
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Andrea Wulf
Progress: 2 %
The Hundred Years War, Volume 1: Trial by Battle
Jonathan Sumption
Progress: 166/586 pages
King Solomon's Mines
H. Rider Haggard
Progress: 4 %
Queen's Gambit: A Novel
Elizabeth Fremantle
Progress: 22 %
1913: The Eve of War
Paul Ham
Progress: 20 %
The William Shakespeare Detective Agency: The Dark Lady (The William Shakespeare Detective Agency Book 2)
Colin Falconer
Progress: 15 %

The Iron King: The Cursed Kings, Volume 1, by Maurice Druon

The Iron King - Maurice Druon

This historical novel, set in 1314 France, was written in the mid-1950s, but has been hard to find in English until recently.  (I remember hearing about it as an adolescent, but never actually seeing a copy.)  George R.R. Martin is a big fan, however, and seems to have persuaded his publisher to put out an English translation.  Thanks, Mr. Martin!

 

It is 1314, and the king of France is Philip IV "the Fair" (as in "attractive" rather than "just"), and he has been king for over 25 years.  He is in the laudable position for a medieval ruler in having three adult sons, Louis, Philip, and Charles, and a daughter, Isabella, all married, and grandchildren have started to appear.  The line appears very safe.

 

Philip, however, is greedy, and has attacked the Knights Templar (and the year after they gave him shelter from riots!), because they are rich.  (The three great moneylenders of medieval France are the Jews, the Templars, and the Lombards.  French kings, in their greed, have laid waste to two of them, and the Lombards are rightfully fearful.)  As the Templars' Grand Commander is about to be burnt at the stake for heresy (after seven years in a dungeon, you, too, will confess to anything) - he curses "to the thirteenth generation" the three men he blames for his death: King Philip IV, one of his leading henchmen, and Pope Clement.  Druon's series "The Cursed Kings" is about the fall of the House of Capet (possibly, or possibly not, aided and abetted by the Templars' curse).  This, the first novel, is set all in the year 1314, the first year of the curse.

 

It is a rich stew of curses, the Templars, an unyielding king, three foolish princesses, a scorned wife, plotting courtiers, Lombards who know how to follow the money, romantic adolescents, would-be poisoners, and many other forms of good clean medieval fun.  There are no "sex scenes" (though much sex is clearly going on, and it is an important plot point), because this came out in 1955.  There were about twenty very nice informative footnotes about medieval France, which I really appreciated.  Stylistically this is clearly in the French historical fiction school, and is more like Dumas than anything I have read written in English.  I really enjoyed this.  Recommended.