Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* Sporting an enthusiastic introduction by George R. R. Martin (in which he calls the book "the original game of thrones"), this is the first U.S. publication of the first volume of French novelist Druon's seven-volume historical saga, collectively known as The Accursed Kings. Originally published in 1955, the novel is set in the year 1314. Philip IV, the king of France, has disbanded the Knights Templar, arresting, torturing, and executing most of them. Relations between France and England are as strained as they have ever been. Philip's increasingly desperate search for money to pay his massive debts has virtually bankrupted the country. Against this sprawling backdrop, Druon tells the story of Robert of Artois, a French lord whose lands have been taken from him by his greedy aunt and whose efforts to reclaim his birthright will lead to all-out war between France and England. Unlike Martin's multivolume Song of Fire and Ice, Druon's saga is based on real history and features real people as its central characters. It's historical fiction on a grand scale, full of political intrigue, family drama, and characters who, while drawn from life, are larger than it. Fans of historical epics who have not yet discovered Druon's saga will be thrilled with this one. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

This first book in a seven-part historical series that chronicles the beginnings of the Hundred Years' War and the fall of the Capetian kings sets the foreboding mood and relentless slow-march tempo that drives the characters forward to their dooms or noble destinies. At its heart is the French monarch, Philip the Fair (1268–1314), grandson of Saint Louis, who rules with an iron fist; it's his persecution of the Knights Templar, including burning its Grand Master at the stake, that sets the stage for his downfall. Adding to the intrigue is Druon's marvelous depiction of the swirl of those lives that move around him. The Iron King can be only as strong as those who serve him, after all. VERDICT Seasoned with sex, betrayal, brutal warfare, cold pragmatic calculating, and curses from the lips of martyrs dying at the stake, this tale cuts a memorable swath through the reader's imagination. The flavor of the times, the smells, sounds, values, and superstitions give this work a fine readability as well as a sensation of reality. With an introduction by George R.R. Martin, who cites this French epic series as an influence on his Game of Thrones, Druon's acclaimed work (first published in 1955) will find an audience with fans of historical fiction and Martin.—Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ

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