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Iron King by Maurice Druon
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Iron King (original 1955; edition 1990)

by Maurice Druon

Series: The Accursed Kings (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,2525811,559 (3.91)76
"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..."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)
Member:luare
Title:Iron King
Authors:Maurice Druon
Info:ACE BOOKS (1990), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Iron King by Maurice Druon (Author) (1955)

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» See also 76 mentions

English (47)  French (6)  Spanish (3)  Dutch (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (58)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
Herein are political machinations, violence, and scandals, but also the everyday concerns of Medieval life such as the weather and crop yields. The pace is a bit uneven as a result of the dense details which contextualize the exciting bits. But that excitement! Right away there's frustrated romance, bitter intrigue, and the dramatic monologue of a man facing execution.

When it moves forward the story is being driven by the large cast of characters, who in spite of being historical figures are often larger-than-life. The dialogue in this series is like that of a stage play, more fraught and less naturalistic than typical modern novels. I thought that worked, but it is a big change from the typical modern novel.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in 14th Century French politics. ( )
  wishanem | May 27, 2021 |
The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1) I picked up this book mainly because of George R.R. Martin's comments about it - how it was one of the books that had inspired him to write A Song of Ice and Fire. The Iron King is not anywhere near as complex as A Game of Thrones, but it is clearly a set up for the rest of the series (which probably will get more complex). Comparisons to GRRM aside, the Iron King is still a brilliant piece of historical fiction. I especially appreciated the historical notes dispersed throughout the novel - the author really did his research, even some of the smaller historical details weren't left out (e.g. there's a nice little note on the production of paper).For fans of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Iron King is a great distraction whilst waiting for the next GRRM book! ( )
  meerapatel | Jan 2, 2021 |
I was given this book and, to be honest, failed to look at it properly and shelved it under fantasy tbr due to the George R R Martin reference.

Whilst looking for a light read I paid the book proper attention and discovered that it was an historical fiction. Furthermore, the references to Knights Templar made me shudder with horror until I realised that this was not some Dan Brown type of modern, semi-religious, mystical woo but actually a reprint of a 1950s book.

An easy read, probably most frustrating in its simplicity for those familiar with French c13 history. It's the first in a series of 7 and I'll probably read the next one if it gets an English translation. Or at least add it to my tbr pile. ( )
  nick4998 | Oct 31, 2020 |
Philip IV of France is putting an end to the Templars, in a bid to grasp their fortune for the crown, and he gets his lineage cursed in the process. Given the preponderance of Templars in fiction, I was happy that they don't long hold the stage. The story quickly progresses to illicit affairs among the princesses in line for the throne, and the subsequent fallout. It offers some closure but leaves several balls in the air for the rest of the series to untangle.

This is written in the style of my favourite historical fiction, steering close to the actual record. Druon explores the thoughts and feelings of real people who experienced these events, embellishing only where it serves to fill in the blanks. Occasionally his narrator's voice offers comment, speaking from a perspective 700 years in the future, but for the most part he stands back and merely portrays. There are some fantastic end notes well worth reading, that I wish more fiction authors playing with the past would trouble themselves to include. It's a far cry from fantasy fiction like Game of Thrones, an often cited comparison, but the influence of this 1950s work on George Martin is clear in large and small ways: nobility caught up in earthly pleasures, people in high positions experiencing grim and dramatic falls, the recitation of enemies' names. It hasn't nearly the breadth of that saga, despite the huge number of names who appear, and only a small measure of the atmosphere. If you appreciate the history it's teaching you, you won't mind those shortcomings. ( )
  Cecrow | May 23, 2020 |
The first of seven volumes in the Accursed Kings series, this book focuses on the last year or so of the reign of Philippe IV le Bel (Philip the Fair), father of Isabelle, queen of England whose husband was Edward II. Specifically, we see the destruction of the last Knights Templar and the fallout from the Tour de Nesle Affair, in which two of the king’s daughters-in-law were accused of adultery. This latter incident is ripe for some rather lurid imagery on Druon’s part with regard to both sex and violence. The violence, in the form of torturing and executing the princesses’ lovers, seemed more historically accurate than the sex, which I’m not sure we can know in quite that detail. I learned a LOT of new French words from this book, but not really ones that can be used in general conversation…

As far as historical fiction goes, this is a densely packed but efficient specimen, clocking in at about 250 pages in my edition. This includes historical notes, which are endnotes in the novel itself, and some biographical information about the key players. I also liked the careful use of Italian (with French translation provided) to set the scene among the Lombard bankers: maybe three sentences total. It was well paced, and the shifts in scenery were well done. I’m looking forward to continuing the series just as soon as I get my hands on books 2, 3, and 4 (I have this one, and 5, 6, and 7). ( )
  rabbitprincess | Mar 21, 2020 |
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Druon, MauriceAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hare, HumphreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martin, George R. R.Forewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"History is a novel that has been lived." - E. & J. de Goncourt
Dedication
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The Grand Master felt surging within him one of those half crazy rages which had so often come upon him in his prison, making him shout aloud and beat the walls.
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.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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..."--P. [4] of cover.

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Book description
Under the beautiful but heartless Philip the Fair, France suffers a reign of terror unmatched in history. His enemies are swiftly crushed by torture and death; his court teems with deception and duplicity.
Yet even against this background of fear and treachery, passions burn with a hungry flame. The incomparably beautiful princesses-- Marguerite, Jeanne, and Blanche-- seek diversion in adultery-- tempting, sensuous sirens of destruction. And then they too become caught in the web of political scheming-- hapless victims of their own tumultuous desires!
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