Day 88: The Iron King

Cover for The Iron KingBest Book of the Week!

The Iron King is the first of seven books in the “Accursed Kings” series by the French novelist Maurice Druon. Unlike many historical novels, this series does not follow a fictional hero or heroine but is an interpretation of actual events in French history with all historical figures. This series was popular in its time (it was written in the 1950’s), but may be difficult to find now. If you are lucky, your local library may have it.

It is 1307 in France. The kingdom is broke, and King Philippe IV, known as the Iron King, is looking for sources of money. The Knights Templar, one of the wealthiest organizations in the world, seems like a good place to get it, but they refuse France a loan. Some charges of heresy, obscene rituals, and other abominations have been laid against them by a defrocked knight. Everyone knows they are false, but with the collusion of Pope Clement, who fears the knights’ power, Philippe orders the members to be arrested all on the same night, and seizes their assets.

In the meantime, Robert of Artois has been cheated out of his inheritance by his aunt, Mahaut.  He decides to get his revenge by bringing down her daughters, who are married to the King’s sons.

Druon’s writing is elegant and ironic, his novels thoroughly researched. He doesn’t over-explain; instead, the novel is compelled forward solely by the events in the plot. Few of the characters are sympathetic; nevertheless, it is a fascinating series. I have often read opinions that Druon is one of the best historical novelists ever.

2 thoughts on “Day 88: The Iron King

  1. WordsAndPeace April 8, 2013 / 2:35 pm

    so it seems they are republishing it now. I would have been surprised it had never been translated into English before. Definitely worth it. Thanks for your review

    • whatmeread April 8, 2013 / 3:32 pm

      It was certainly translated to English in the 1950’s, because the copies I read were ones I located with great difficulty from used book stores. If you were able to get a newer copy, then perhaps they will be publishing all of them. Aha! I just did a quick search on a used book site and saw the newer editions of The Iron King. Then I did a search for The Strangled Queen, and that was published in 2013, too, so I would guess that yes, the entire series has been republished. I don’t know if the translator is the same or if they had the books retranslated. (I can’t remember the translator for my copies, or even if it was more than one person.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.