The Iron King

Right about the time I was asking for recommendations regarding French history, someone posted on Tumblr asked about The Accursed Kings series by Maurice Duron. I hadn’t heard of it, but when I looked it up, the reviews all toted it as The Original Game of Thrones! Well of course, I had to jump right on it, so I ordered the first book from my library. Little did I realize that not only did George RR Martin love the series and do the introduction, but it was also about the 100 year war between England and France!

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Well, you can imagine my excitement. When I read Martin’s introduction, I was stoked. Martin is pretty grumpy, but to hear him rave about Druon left me with high expectations. I was even debating if I should start learning French so I could read the last two books (which haven’t been translated into English). I thought, “Yes! This will give me more of a foundation into medieval French history that I’ve been looking for.” At least the early years.

But, with high expectations come big disappointments. The subject matter was interesting, but the writing was lackluster. Sorry, George, I just could not get into this at all. I can definitely see the Game of Thrones type storyline. The history certainly the potential for drama, but the prose lacks all emotion whatsoever. It is a complete yawn that left me scanning just to get to the end of the chapter so I could do something else. And that means I retained nothing and gained nothing.

I can tell you the king is Philip the Fair, and there were three princesses that had simultaneous affairs. That’s about it. Oh and there was a poisonous candle somewhere in the mix. I’m going to have to find another version to figure out what actually happened. Something that can hold my attention. This one did not do it.

Sigh. On to the next!

French History

Whether it is just the chunk of the Boxall list I am working through at the moment, or the random books I am choosing from my Goodreads list–for some reason I seem to be reading a lot of French literature lately.

Or trying to.

I am getting really frustrated, because I am not enjoying the books as much as I want to. Either they are taking way too long to read, or I just find them excruciatingly boring. Mauprat wasn’t bad, but I am into my second Dumas novel, and I think I have figured out why I hate him so much.

Dumas writes about real events–his books are basically James Bond books of the 1800s. They are about espionage and war and real kings. Maybe the heroes are fictional, but all the history is real.

And I do not know that history, so I am COMPLETELY lost. Hence my frustration! I know all about British history, because I’ve been reading about it for years…but French? Nada. I know there were rough relations with the Spanish for awhile, but I don’t know if they ever went to war. And I know there was a revolution with Napoleon…which I think is what this book is talking about. But without Googling it, I couldn’t even tell you what happened there. It has been years since my World History class in high school.

So. Dear readers. I need your help. Enlighten me. I need more French History. What are your favorites? Biographies. Period histories. Fact-based historical fiction about real people (you know the kind I like…I’m not talking romance novels here). Give me some good stuff that I can read up on the kings and queens and drama.

And don’t worry…I probably will use Google. But reading in depth is so much better! Thanks for your help!