A World of Dirty Politics, Power and Greed in 14th Century France.. plus ça change …

Just finished reading “The Iron King” written by Maurice Druon in 1955 and recently translated into English.

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This is a powerful and wonderfully written story (aside from the first few pages which no doubt editors or translators managed to mess up – I’ve seen this before). It’s the first of a very popular series in France – Les Rois Maudits – (The Accursed Kings) written over fifty years ago, and out of which a successful TV series has been made… not that this necessarily means a lot when you see some of the rubbish that’s made into films. It’s also supposed to be the inspiration for the ‘Game of Thrones’ which I had the misfortune to watch one episode of on an international flight and had I been anywhere else I would have fallen asleep.

But quite to the contrary, “The Iron King” is a great piece of literature wrapped up in an historical tale of the last months in the life of French King Phillip the Fair in the early thirteen hundreds.  It’s historical fiction verging on fact which I find incredibly interesting but I can imagine that those not interested in history and in particular French history might not be too enthused by the story. Of course, there are also those who aren’t looking for literature but something rather less. Indeed, there’s so much in this fast-moving, tightly written, entertaining and colourful tale – human folly, political intrique, extreme greed, love and loss, insights into the lives of the powerful and the weak, the rich and poor, in an unforgiving and violent era … and above all, how so very little has changed today, except perhaps for the level of violence and who it is that wields the power over the lives of ordinary people. I’d highly recommend it if you enjoy or are interested these kinds of issues. You can get it on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1omQShg

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4 thoughts on “A World of Dirty Politics, Power and Greed in 14th Century France.. plus ça change …

  1. Re “dirty politics, power”, racism et al, Gary, interesting to see how it worked in the late 19th century,(and very close to home!) in the novel we’re reading in my book club this month: ‘An Officer and a Spy” by Robert Harris. You probably know the book already – deals with the Dreyfus affair; a brilliant, (slightly)-fictionalised version seen from the point of view of the officer who fought for the truth. An important book that celebrates the triumph of a lone voice in a moral desert.

    • Hi Carmel, yes , I have heard of it and have been planning to read it… it’s funny how the Dreyfus affair dragged on for so long, through two trials and such public protest .. even Emile Zola’s efforts …… I guess it just shows how entrenched anti-semitism was in France (and everywhere) at that time (of course and it had been for centuries). Indeed, if you look at “The Hare with Amber Eyes” by Edmund de Waal, it also paints a pretty awful portrait of the level of anti-semitism in France at the end of the nineteenth century and how it was only surpassed by the insanity of Hitler in the 30’s in Austria, as well as in Germany. Perhaps have a look at my review of “The Hare..” … Have great Christmas if we don’t see you before!

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