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The Iron King (The Accursed Kings, Book 1) Paperback – 11 Apr 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 132 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (11 April 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007491263
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007491261
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (132 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


‘Iron kings and strangled queens, battles and betrayals, lies and lust, the curse of the Templars, the doom of a great dynasty – and all of it (well, most of it) straight from the pages of history, and believe me, the Starks and the Lannisters have nothing on the Capets and Plantagenets. Whether you are a history buff or a fantasy fan, Druon's epic will keep you turning pages. This was the original game of thrones’ George R.R. Martin

‘Blood-curdling tale of intrigue, murder, corruption and sexual passion’ The Sunday Times

‘Dramatic and colourful as a Dumas romance but stiffened by historical accuracy and political insight’ The Sunday Times

‘Barbaric, sensual, teeming with life, based in wide reading and sound scholarship…among the best historical novels’ The Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Maurice Druon was a French resistance hero, a Knight of the British Empire and a holder of the Grand Croix de la Légion d'Honneur. He was also a member of the Académie française and a celebrated novelist, best known for his series of seven historical novels under the title of The Accursed Kings, which were twice adapted for television. A passionate Anglophile, he was a great expert on all things English, including its medieval history, which provides great inspiration for the series. His many and diverse fans include George RR Martin, Nicolas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I am at a loss to understand the acrimony towards this book by other reviewers- am only half way through this but simply galloping through it! Yes it's not Game of Thrones, nor is it high fantasy. I think this would be apparent from even the briefest look at the blurb. Some seem to dislike the 'old fashioned' and 'slow' style of the book- but what it lacks in trivialising melodrama it makes up in weight. This is a well informed and masterful telling of events all the more stunning because they were real, they actually happened (give or take, of course)! I have really enjoyed the first half of the book- I feel the author is masterful enough for me to be convinced by his work on the whole, and the measured and careful prose create a deeply conceived recreation. Also. The distance both in time from when the book was written, and in language this of course being a translation, makes this book such a refreshing take from the often stale tropes of modern historical fiction. I am really sticking my neck out here and am prepared for some flack, but I wish George R. R. Martin had picked up a few tips on how to write restrained and controlled prose from this author! Still, it is possible to admire both of these writers for their different strengths without panning either. Suffice to say I think Game of Thrones works better as television, but this is a real joy to read. I look forward to reading them all by Maurice Druon after this!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Iron King of the title is Philip IV of France - handsome and powerful with three sons to secure his line and a daughter Isabella who is married to King Edward II of England, he is a man to whom much of Europe and even the Pope answers.

Bent on the destruction of the Knights Templar whose fabulous wealth he covets, he finally commits, after seven years of persecution, their Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burnt at the stake. As he burns the Grand Master utters a curse upon the king's line to endure for thirteen generations.

Apparently, the series of books of which this is the first was the inspiration for George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones. I've never read GoT but have seen the TV series and have to say that with hindsight Maurice Druon's influence is certainly apparent. However, readers coming to the this particular book expecting a George Martin style fantasy are going to be disappointed (and it is perhaps unjust to compare The Iron King with such) - this is really a historical novel and being written some sixty years ago lacks the 'grit' of more modern writings - but this isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Overall I think I'd say that I found the Iron King an interesting read rather than an exciting one but, for all that, I also found it strangely compelling and it certainly kept me turning the pages. Would I go on to read the next book in the series? You know, I just might.
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By JPS TOP 500 REVIEWER on 12 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
The Iron King is the first of a series of six volumes that make up the original “Accursed Kings” and which were published in French by Maurice Druon between 1955 and 1960. A seventh volume, but a quite different one in its construction, was added in 1970.
At the outset, I should perhaps acknowledge how biased I am. I read this series in French more than thirty years ago – I am not sure it had even been translated in English at the time. I “loved it”, to use Amazon’s terminology for a five star rating, read it again a couple of times in French, and I have read it yet again for a fourth time in English. So I guess you could say I am “a fan”, not exactly objective and therefore unlikely to be very critical and you would probably score a point on each count.

Having mentioned all this which you can call disclaimers if you will, I would like to explain not only this book’s contents but also why I found it so special at the tile, and still find it so over thirty years later.

The first reason is that this book sets the tone for the whole series. This volume is centred on Philippe IV the Fair’s reign (Philippe IV le Bel) who was King of France between 1285 and 1314. His long reign is often little-known, including in France, with the exception of the destruction of the Templars. He was a hard King who did much to assert royal authority at the expense of just about everybody else: the great feudal lords, but also the King of England, Flanders, the Templars. Even the pope was manhandled rather roughly (and quite literally) by the King’s men, with the seat of the papacy being then transferred to Avignon, under French control, and the King having a series of French popes elected.
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