The Iron King by Maurice Druon
- Method of Obtaining: I received an advance copy from the publisher.
- Published by: HarperCollins
- Release Date: 3.26.2013
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 de Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty…
- Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
- The History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth
I love good historic fiction and, when I saw that George R.R. Martin endorsed The Iron King, I figured I’d be in for a good ride. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way.
I don’t know why exactly this story fell short for me. There are several things I can think of that are just small things that got to me, but it is quite possible that all those small things just added up to me not enjoying myself while reading this book.
The first thing was the language. It may have been a translation issue (this was originally written in French), but the story did not flow at all. Sentences were stiff and awkward at times. The transitions did not flow, at all. Moments that were just wrought with angst and horrible scenes that begged for tears, were not just written clinically, but almost glossed over as well. Having just read Geoffrey of Monmouth’s The History of the Kings of Britain this semester, I can say that I’ve read some difficult British history that could run circles around the story in this book.
The second thing I had a hard time with is the jumping from one story to the next. I understand that there were a lot of things that led to the 100 years war. Afterall, what war didn’t start as a result of many little things leading up to a big act? But in a relatively short (340ish pages) book, it’s nearly impossible to cover each thing in a manner that gives credit to where it is due. As a result, as I was bandied back and forth between characters, I felt the story was incredibly rushed.
Finally, the story itself. The first two things quite possibly affected how I interpreted the story, but it just didn’t seem interesting enough to be put down in anything other than a history book. The most exciting moment in the book was during the execution of two men, and even that was only given a cursory paragraph. I’m not bloodthirsty, don’t get me wrong, but I was hoping for a bit of drama to make me want to keep picking up the book.
Overall, I’d say give this one a pass. Pick up Geoffrey of Monmouth’s book, or something by Sharon Kay Penman if you are looking for a bulky, but still interesting historical read. And if you are hoping this will give you your Game of Thrones fix while you wait for the next episode/book, let me just apologize in advance. I wish someone had warned me.
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