Customer Review

78 of 88 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Fantasy, but very readable, 16 Jan. 2013
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This review is from: The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1) (Hardcover)
I have read both the current two-star and the one three-star reviews, and agree with those reviewers that the comments in the jacket likening it to George Martin's "Game of Thrones" are highly misleading. Even worse is Martin's Foreword, where he claims to see no essential difference between his type of fantasy adventure and Druon's careful historical narrative. Martin claims Druon inspired him, but (as one of the reviewers says) "The Iron King" is nothing like Martin's epic fantasy adventure. I differ from her in thinking it is none the worse for that, especially if dragons and sorcery is not what you want.

There is a saying that you can't judge book its cover, and however much the publishers have done some readers a disservice in their misrepresentation of what type of work "The Iron King" is, I think these reviews do other potential readers a disservice in linking negative comments to their disappointment. Druon did not write the jacket blurb, so he should not be criticised for it, only for what he wrote.

Unlike your other reviewers, I first came to "The Accursed Kings" series in the mid-1970s when the BBC televised a French TV version, and was able to get hold of the first six books in English in the late-1970s. They were re-issued in paperback in the 1980s but have long been out of print in English. Re-reading them after 30 or so years, I still find them interesting and very readable, but not "exciting" if that means full of improbable or contrived action. I can see where reviewer "katywheatley" is coming from in some of her comments, however, this is a carefully researched, reflective and slow-burning work, where the historical characters are constrained by actual events and the fictional ones by the limits of reasonable probability. To repeat: it is not fantasy. If I had to compare it to a contemporary British work I would say "Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel. Those who gave "Wolf Hall" critical reviews complained it was a difficult read, and so can "The Iron King" be, but both can be worthwhile. The vast majority of reviews of Hilary Mantel's novel gave favourable reviews, and I think Druon deserves more credit than he has been given.

I was rather mystified by the review from "P J Rankine". Unlike "katywheatley", he found the book easy to read, but like a school history book. I don't share this view, and wonder if he knew that Druon was a member of the Académie Française, whose member are not generally known for being puerile. I do share some of his concern about the translation, which may be too literal a translation, preserving the French word-order and idioms. The review from "mark shackelford" was more reasoned and I agree that, as "The Iron King" was written over 55 years ago, its language isn't very modern (although it is not glaringly old-fashioned).

My apologies to your other reviewers for criticising what they say, but they are not reviewing "The Iron King" as it is, but rather complaining that it is not something written by George Martin. Readers should judge it on its merits.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 24 Jun 2013 18:00:37 BDT
M Poole says:
I agree entirely, it's not a Martin book, it is not fantasy and it's of a different time when writing historical novels did not require graphic sex, violence and a need to make things more interesting by making up facts. Druon's work stands on its own, it is thanks to Martin's comment that we're able to read these books again, but there is no other correlation. The comment 'this is the original Game of Thrones' has been badly misinterpreted by people to imply that it's the same plot but to me what was meant is that the original manipulations of the powers that be, genuine and often shockingly cold-hearted are what power and ruling was about.

In reply to an earlier post on 10 Jun 2014 23:02:03 BDT
XycenH says:
Totally agree. This book does stand on its own. In fact, if I could go back in time and read the Iron King and THEN read George RR Martin, I would probably have spotted some grave character similarities. The essence of rulership and governance of a falling monarchy is captured by Duron's themes. Best part is, the novel is an elaborated truth of History. And that to me is somewhat intriguing. It is most certainly not a history book, and anyone who thinks it reads poor and like a school-comprehensive, should really detach from the love spell with George RR Martin -- or stick to fantasy hybrids!

Posted on 19 Nov 2014 12:19:52 GMT
Bethi says:
I have a slight advantage here as I have not seen/read 'Game of Thrones'. I, too, watched 'The Accursed Kings' series on TV in the 1970s ........ great French actors, with sub titles. It was compelling viewing and I have never forgotten it. I later found the books in my local Library. A few years ago I tried to buy the books, but found they were out of print. I'm delighted that they are now available through Amazon and have bought them all for my Kindle. Earlier this year I went online to try and find the series on DVD (with the English subtitles), but without success. A real shame as I would love to watch it again. Many thanks for your review, S. Smith.
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S. Smith
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