Book review: The Strangled Queen – I love France #68

I LOVE FRANCE!

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The Strangled Queen
(The Accursed Kings, #2)

by

Maurice DRUON

Translator: Humphrey HARE

304 pages

Publication date: October 15, 2013, by Harper Collins
First published in French in 1955

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book as an egalley for free from  the publisher
via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.

The Strangled Queen

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France    hf-reading-challenge-2013

2013 Ebook Challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

Harper Collins seems to intend to publish the translation of the Accursed King series at a steady pace, and they understand how much I love Maurice Druon, thanks!

The curses coming out of the mouth of the last Templar, as he was burning to death, apparently keep coming true facts.
With his father, Philip IV, dead, the young Louis X, 25, ends up king, with no formation and no special skill or even taste for the job. All the more convenient for all the different factions around him, all too ready to give him advice helpful to none but themselves.
Further more, his own wife Marguerite of Burgundy was found unfaithful (as recounted in the first volume), and she is imprisoned in harsh conditions.
What is he supposed to do? Free her, have his marriage annulled and find a new wife? But the situation of the church is just as messy as the one of the kingdom, with no pope, and lots of intrigues.

If you are getting tired about the British monarchy, it’s time to delve into this series and get to know the French House of Capet. The second volume does not disappoint. Helped with the genealogy tree and the list of characters provided at the beginning of the book, explaining clearly who’s who, it was fascinating to discover more deeply all the intrigues at the level of the civil and religious authorities, with the Capets, the Valois and the archbishop family of the De Marigny,, and the complex political situation with the pope.

I really enjoy Druon’s style, with great descriptions of places (the prison!) and characters. I always enjoy his aside ironic reflections on human foibles as well. I had a bit forgotten my French history, so it was suspense to the very end as for the fate of Marguerite. I’m really looking forward to reading the whole series.

QUOTATIONS

He was a king and knew not how to reign; he was a man and knew not how to live. p.61

To tell a Neapolitan woman, whether she be princess or merely serving-maid in a hotel, that one will fall gravely ill at not seeing her again is but the minimum obligation of courtesy. p.106

Even when we are punished for the wrong reasons, there is always a real cause for our punishment. Every unjust act, even committed for the sake of a just cause, carries its curse with it. p.191

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

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. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maurice Druon

Maurice Druon (1918-2009) was born in Paris. He is the nephew of the writer Joseph Kessel, with whom he wrote the Chant des Partisans, which, with music composed by Anna Marly, was used as an anthem by the French Resistance during the Second World War.
In 1948 he received the Prix Goncourt for his novel Les grandes familles. On December 8, 1966, he was elected to the 30th seat of the Académie française, succeeding Georges Duhamel.
While his scholarly writing earned him a seat at the Académie, he is best known for a series of seven historical novels published in the 1950s under the title Les Rois Maudits (The Accursed Kings).
He was Minister of Cultural Affairs in 1973 and 1974 in Pierre Messmer’s cabinet, and a deputy of Paris from 1978 to 1981.

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL
ON THE TEMPLARS ?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

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include the title of the book or topic in your link:

name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

example : me @ myblog (Camus)

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I love France #47: Book review: The Iron King

I LOVE FRANCE!

I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.

You can share here about any book

or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !

Feel free to grab my button,

and link your own post through Mister Linky,

at the bottom of this post.

*******

The Iron King
(The Accursed Kings, #1)

by

Maurice DRUON

Translator: Humphrey HARE

368 pages

Publication date: March 26, 2013, by Harper Collins
First published in French in 1955

Iron King

Ebook received from Harper Collins
via Edelweiss

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

     Books on France    hf-reading-challenge-2013

2013 Ebook Challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

I may have read this book 30 years ago or so in French, as I think my mother liked this author and was recommending it to me. Or maybe I did NOT read it, BECAUSE she recommended it…

Anyway, being a lot more now into historical fiction and into books related to France, it was a real treat to see this book translated in English. Not sure if this is the first English translation. I believe the translator did a superb job, as I never had the feeling that the book “stinks” translation, as I sometimes say; and being myself an English-French translator, I can recognize those from afar.

It is so well done, full of wonderful descriptions of settings, people, characters, conspiracy, jealousy, and courtly intrigues – that do not end well at all for some lovers, to say the least…
I also like how Druon inserts little reflexions on characters, on life, sometimes with black humor, and always on target – see 2 examples in Quotations here below.

The book is based on the very heated relationship between Philip IV of France, called the Fair (Philippe le Bel, ou le roi de fer – the Iron King) (1268-1314) and the Knights Templar – whom he ended up exterminating. The novel opens with just a few Templars remaining, and the highest of them, their Grand Master Jacques de Molay.

A legend says that Jacques cursed the King and his descendants for 13 generations, as he was burning to death. The novel is based on this, and then how the curse unravels – whether there was a curse or not, the historical events that took place after did happen.

Alongside, there’s a second plot, with the attempts of Robert of Artois to reclaim the county of Artois from his aunt Mahaut.

The ambiance of the period is superbly conveyed; as well as the meanness of some characters: if Philip is the Iron King, his councilor and keeper of the seal, Guillaume de Nogaret, may even be worse in his coldness – instrumental here in the torture scenes.

At the beginning, the relationships between the main characters maybe a bit confusing, but the author provided a very helpful list of characters and a simplified genealogy tree. As I was reading this as an ebook, it was a bit awkward to go back to it, so I ended up having to do some complex things to print these pages!! First time I see one problem with ebooks.

Now, why on earth is it marketed as the real “Game of Thrones?” This is not fantasy at all, this is a historical novel, closely based on all too real historical events.

If you are into royal stories, but are getting tired of the Tudors, I highly recommend this book; and hopefully the next volumes will soon be published in English as well.

QUOTATIONS

There is a singular strand running through history, always renewing itself, that of fanatics for the general good and for the written law. Logical to the point of inhumanity, pitiless towards others as towards themselves, these servants of abstract gods and of absolute law accept the role of executioners, because they wish to be the last executioner. They deceive themselves because, once dead, the world no longer obeys them.  p.169 [about Nogaret]

Every man believes to some extent that the world began when he was born and, at the moment of leaving it, suffers at having to let the Universe remain unfinished.    p.255, when King Philip is dying

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 “Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation!”The Iron King – Philip the Fair – is as cold and silent, as handsome and unblinking as a statue. He governs his realm with an iron hand, but he cannot rule his own family: his sons are weak and their wives adulterous; while his red-blooded daughter Isabella is unhappily married to an English king who prefers the company of men.A web of scandal, murder and intrigue is weaving itself around the Iron King; but his downfall will come from an unexpected quarter. Bent on the persecution of the rich and powerful Knights Templar, Philip sentences Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty…[Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maurice Druon

Maurice Druon (1918-2009) was born in Paris. He is the nephew of the writer Joseph Kessel, with whom he wrote the Chant des Partisans, which, with music composed by Anna Marly, was used as an anthem by the French Resistance during the Second World War.
In 1948 he received the Prix Goncourt for his novel Les grandes familles. On December 8, 1966, he was elected to the 30th seat of the Académie française, succeeding Georges Duhamel.
While his scholarly writing earned him a seat at the Académie, he is best known for a series of seven historical novels published in the 1950s under the title Les Rois Maudits (The Accursed Kings).
He was Minister of Cultural Affairs in 1973 and 1974 in Pierre Messmer’s cabinet, and a deputy of Paris from 1978 to 1981.

REVIEWS BY OTHER BLOGGERS

She Reads Novels
Historical Tapestry

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL
ON THE TEMPLARS ?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

***

Just a reminder guys:

If you link your own post on France,

please if possible

include the title of the book or topic in your link:

name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):

example : me @ myblog (Camus)

Thanks!