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Fortune de France, tome 2 : En nos vertes…
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Fortune de France, tome 2 : En nos vertes années (original 1979; edition 1994)

by Robert Merle

Series: Fortunes of France (2)

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1632120,084 (4.02)None
Montpellier in 1566 is one of the greatest seats of learning of the age, a cradle of Renaissance humanism. But even this proud city of philosophers is not safe from the menaces that endanger the peace of France--the city militia are struggling to contend with the lawlessness and religious hatred that threaten to tear the whole country in two. Only fools walk the streets at night unarmed, while a profession of faith in the wrong company can lead to a knife in the back.  Now an adult, Pierre de Siorac must leave the family stronghold of Mespech, and travel south on dangerous roads to the great university city, accompanied by his strapping but naive brother Samson and the crafty Miroul. Well-armoured, with swords and pistols at their belts, the trio are confident of repelling any bandits who cross their path, but their new life away from the safety of their home will bring with it many other new dangers and delights. Following on from The Brethren, City of Wisdom and Blood is the second book the sweeping saga, Fortunes of France.… (more)
Member:hnn
Title:Fortune de France, tome 2 : En nos vertes années
Authors:Robert Merle
Info:LGF - Livre de Poche (1994), Poche
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:historical fiction

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City of Wisdom and Blood by Robert Merle (1979)

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This is the second in a series of 13 historical novels about the lives of a family of minor Huguenot nobles, the de Sioracs, in 16th and 17th century France. The series was written by French author Robert Merle over a period of 26 years, though I understand that only the first four books in the series have thus far been translated into English. The action picks up where the first book ended, with young Pierre de Siorac and his half brother Samson setting out on their journey of life, with Pierre enrolling as a medical student in Montpellier. While this is very well written, I thought this mostly lacked the narrative drive of the first novel, and had throughout much of it a more comic feel, with Pierre getting into a series of sexual entanglements with almost every lady he meets, and into scrapes such as disinterring a body from the graveyard to provide an extra corpse for dissection in anatomy lessons, while at the same time engaging in sexual relations with a self-proclaimed witch in the selfsame graveyard. All this said, the threat of bitter and bloody civil war between Catholic and Huguenot is never far away, with Pierre disgusted by the reprisals of his fellow Huguenots when they take power in Nimes, butchering Catholic priests, monks and ordinary citizens ("What kind of a new world is this, that begins with the massacre of people who, when all is said and done, have the same God that we do but worship Him in a different way?”). He pleads for toleration in the face of extremists on both sides of the religious divide: "how can we possibly argue for the freedom of conscience for ourselves, which the papists have denied us, if we refuse it to those who have ideas that differ from ours?” Parts of this novel also felt like a brain dump of information on medicinal herbs, or early modern age ideas of medicine and anatomy - interesting but distracted sometimes from the narrative. These criticisms apart, this was still a very rich and well written novel and I will certainly be reading the following novels. ( )
  john257hopper | Jan 7, 2019 |
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