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Philippe V le Long vient de mourir avant d'avoir atteint trente ans et, comme son frère Louis X le Hutin, sans descendance mâle. Le troisième fils du Roi de fer, le faible Charles IV le Bel, lui succède. Une évasion de la tour de Londres ; la chevauchée cruelle conduite par une reine française d'Angleterre pour chasser du trône son époux ; un atroce assassinat perpétré sur Philippe V le Long vient de mourir avant d'avoir atteint trente ans et, comme son frère Louis X le Hutin, sans descendance mâle. Le troisième fils du Roi de fer, le faible Charles IV le Bel, lui succède. Une évasion de la tour de Londres ; la chevauchée cruelle conduite par une reine française d'Angleterre pour chasser du trône son époux ; un atroce assassinat perpétré sur un souverain... La relance de l'Histoire vient d'Angleterre. La Louve de France, c'est le tragique surnom que les chroniqueurs donnèrent à la reine Isabelle, fille de Philippe le Bel, qui semblait avoir transporté outre-Manche la malédiction des Templiers.


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Philippe V le Long vient de mourir avant d'avoir atteint trente ans et, comme son frère Louis X le Hutin, sans descendance mâle. Le troisième fils du Roi de fer, le faible Charles IV le Bel, lui succède. Une évasion de la tour de Londres ; la chevauchée cruelle conduite par une reine française d'Angleterre pour chasser du trône son époux ; un atroce assassinat perpétré sur Philippe V le Long vient de mourir avant d'avoir atteint trente ans et, comme son frère Louis X le Hutin, sans descendance mâle. Le troisième fils du Roi de fer, le faible Charles IV le Bel, lui succède. Une évasion de la tour de Londres ; la chevauchée cruelle conduite par une reine française d'Angleterre pour chasser du trône son époux ; un atroce assassinat perpétré sur un souverain... La relance de l'Histoire vient d'Angleterre. La Louve de France, c'est le tragique surnom que les chroniqueurs donnèrent à la reine Isabelle, fille de Philippe le Bel, qui semblait avoir transporté outre-Manche la malédiction des Templiers.

30 review for La Louve de France

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kalliope

    The beginning of the fifth volume in Druon’s series Les Rois Maudits is a bit disconcerting. So far, the volumes were roughly consecutive, but this time there is a jump of about five years and we also change countries. We are now in England. I guess historical fiction is a bit like journalism – the hideous make better stories. The previous volume ended with the coronation of Philippe V, after he retrieved and manipulated an old law that prevented women to access the throne. But since Druon thinks The beginning of the fifth volume in Druon’s series Les Rois Maudits is a bit disconcerting. So far, the volumes were roughly consecutive, but this time there is a jump of about five years and we also change countries. We are now in England. I guess historical fiction is a bit like journalism – the hideous make better stories. The previous volume ended with the coronation of Philippe V, after he retrieved and manipulated an old law that prevented women to access the throne. But since Druon thinks that Philippe was a relatively good monarch, the series jumps over his reign, and we are to follow his sister Isabelle, who is the Queen of England. This novel then deals with a fascinating period, the one that led to the revolt against Isabelle's husband, king Edward II, in which she, together with her lover Roger Mortimer, had a hand – hence the epithet Louve de France (the She-Wolf of France). What I also found disconcerting at the beginning was dealing with England in French. Silly me, I had forgotten that French was very much in use in the English court at the time. In fact, Druon quotes several of the letters that Edward II sent to the French court which were, of course, written in French. As in the previous novels, Druon handles very well the suspense and likes to use the darker legends surrounding some unclassified circumstances or events, such as whether Edward had been assassinated or not. He also continues to pay close attention to particularities of the time, often expanded or further illustrated in the Notes. So we learn that the 'shilling' was a unit of value but not really currency in circulation while the 'penny' was in circulation and had the in the highest value. Or that a weak aspect the impenetrability of some fortresses, like Chateau Gaillard (the one below), were the openings for the latrines. Druon also follows a didactic aim, and I was glad to be reminded that there were two One-Hundred Years Wars. The first one, from 1152 to 1259, that had a couple of retrievals--one of which is tackled in this novel. While the second one, the one that began in he 14th century, is the war that first comes to people’s minds, and that would begin with the young son that accompanies Isabelle What did not convince me so much in this novel was the portrayal of the Queen Isabelle. She did not strike me as a She-Wolf in the least. With Druon's slightly misogynist tone, she comes across more as a puppet in the hands of her lover. Not that we can know how this lady was, but it just does not correspond to the title. --- And soon the last two volumes in the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    My favourite in this series to date, Druon skips forward so that Charles IV is now on the French throne but the central emphasis is on his sister Isabella, the English queen, who we met briefly in book one plotting with Robert of Artois to bring down her adulterous sisters-in-law. Ironically, now it's Isabella's troubled marriage to Edward II which is under the spotlight and her affair with Mortimer, long-time enemy of Edward. There's more 'real' history in this book and less of the soap opera s My favourite in this series to date, Druon skips forward so that Charles IV is now on the French throne but the central emphasis is on his sister Isabella, the English queen, who we met briefly in book one plotting with Robert of Artois to bring down her adulterous sisters-in-law. Ironically, now it's Isabella's troubled marriage to Edward II which is under the spotlight and her affair with Mortimer, long-time enemy of Edward. There's more 'real' history in this book and less of the soap opera strands - we only briefly catch up with Guccio and Marie, with the swapped Capet heir, and Mahaut (still frothing at the mouth!) For modern readers, the homophobic rhetoric around Edward and his favourites is troublesome: we don't know whether these were sexual relationships or not but the straight-line associations made between M/M love, decadence and political incompetence and corruption disturbs. (It always amuses me that Christopher Marlowe, who wrote his own play on Edward II, is so often confidently described as 'homosexual', even though modern categories and even the concept of sexual identity and orientation didn't exist in medieval and Renaissance culture - but that Shakespeare, with his love sonnets and beautiful Adonis, is not so described...) That aside, this is another entertaining episode with more political depth than some of the earlier books. There are some horribly gory deaths, and the demise of one long-term character - and the stage is set for more trouble between England and France in the next book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sud666

    Book Five of the Accursed Kings turns to the reign of the French King Charles IV, while in England the weak rule of Edward II continues. But this book is more about Edward's wife- Isabella. She is the daughter of Philip the Fair and sister to Charles. In light of the power granted to the Despenser family by Edward II (Hugh the Younger was his lover), Isabella goes to France for an "extended visit" fearing for her welfare and the life of her son- Edward III. In France she runs into the deeply embi Book Five of the Accursed Kings turns to the reign of the French King Charles IV, while in England the weak rule of Edward II continues. But this book is more about Edward's wife- Isabella. She is the daughter of Philip the Fair and sister to Charles. In light of the power granted to the Despenser family by Edward II (Hugh the Younger was his lover), Isabella goes to France for an "extended visit" fearing for her welfare and the life of her son- Edward III. In France she runs into the deeply embittered Roger Mortimer, the younger, eight Baron of Wigmore, King Edward's former Lord-Lieutenant and Justicar of Ireland and generally seriously pissed off noble (he and his family a casualty of the Edawrd-Despenser imbroglio). They begin an affair that will lead to Isabella gathering forces lead by Mortimer and dethroning Edward II in favor of his far more capable son-Edward III, after a period of Regency by Mortimer-Isabella (of course). An excellent addition to this great story about the conflicts of the French Crown. Isabella deserved her revenge, but may have overstepped in openly advertising her relations with Mortimer. She will pay a price for that because her son, Edward III, takes after his grandfather- the redoubtable Edward I, the Longshanks, The "Hammer of the Scots". But that is another story.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Another excellent part in this series. The relations between the English king and his wife get worse and at the same time problems between the king and his nobles deteriorate fast. Some of the main characters of England flee to the parts of France in the hands of the English, hoping for the support of the french crown. In the meantime everyone, nobles, bankers and clergy are setting up intrigues in a way most fantasy books can only dream of.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Boxell

    Five down - two to go. I am really enjoying re-reading Druon's series about the French royalty in the 14thC. Quirky style, but a very entertaining read. Five down - two to go. I am really enjoying re-reading Druon's series about the French royalty in the 14thC. Quirky style, but a very entertaining read.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Poor Isabelle… In the "Iron King", we were introduced to a beautiful, cold, lonely queen. Far from her home and her family, married to a man who is not interested in women, who mistreats her, steals from her… Is it any wonder she eventually betrayed him? After all, she was Philippe the Fair's child, and had his strength and keen political mind… The fifth episode of the "Accursed Kings" saga takes us across the English Channel, to the court of Edward II. The King has imprisoned Roger Mortimer, Lo Poor Isabelle… In the "Iron King", we were introduced to a beautiful, cold, lonely queen. Far from her home and her family, married to a man who is not interested in women, who mistreats her, steals from her… Is it any wonder she eventually betrayed him? After all, she was Philippe the Fair's child, and had his strength and keen political mind… The fifth episode of the "Accursed Kings" saga takes us across the English Channel, to the court of Edward II. The King has imprisoned Roger Mortimer, Lord Wigmore, in the legendary Tower of London for his insurrection attempt, but Mortimer has not given up on his dream of a better England. Nor has he given up his dreams of loving the beautiful, cold Queen Isabelle, the She-Wolf of France… He escapes the Tower and runs away to France to recruit the help of her brother, King Charles. Mortimer and his followers felt that the Despensers used their influence over the King (via his lover, Despenser the Youngest) for their own gain, to the detriment of the kingdom. When Mortimer arrives in France, the first friend he makes is Robert d'Artois, now the most powerful baron of France, who will help him finance his rebellion and bring together an army that will finally get rid of Edward and his favorites. Intertwined with this main arc, we also catch up with the Comte de Bouville, Pope John XXII, Guccio and his doomed romance with Marie de Cressay. And of course, it's not an "Accursed Kings" novel if we don't get a few good fights between Robert and his aunt the Countess Mahaut! I feel like Druon took more liberties with the historical record in this installment of the "Accursed Kings" than with the first four. Edward II's homosexuality has been debated because Isabelle did have four children by him, Edward III being the eldest. I understand that in the historical context, homosexuality was not just a sin, but also a crime, but I get a sense of really intense homophobia from the tone. I have to say, as a huge fan of the fourth tome, I felt a bit cheated to have so little information about the reign of Philippe V "The Tall", who is my favorite of the original three princes. He was not king of France for very long, but his reign was very interesting and chaotic, and he only gets a few pages of summary in the introduction. For shame! His death also leaves us with precious few truly cunning characters: Charles de Valois and Charles IV are both pompous and useless, Robert and Mahaut are the only real brains left in the Capetian dynasty, since Isabelle looses her wits over Mortimer rather quickly. Seeing this highly intelligent and cunning Queen reduced to a needy twit by Lord Wigmore is a little bit annoying… But in all fairness, he's a pompous, entitled ass who is very manipulative with her. He'll get what's coming to him in the next book. But faithful to his style, Druon explains the intrigue and politics in a simple but engaging and educational manner. It's impossible not to learn when reading the "Accursed Kings" because the research is so meticulous and the portrait of the time so finely drawn. But in the terms of the overall saga, this volume marks the beginning of the end. The letter transcriptions are long and somewhat tedious, most of the biting dialogue of the previous installments is also gone. There are very interesting and moving moments in this book, but I did not enjoy it as much as its predecessors. A necessary step towards the final tome, but far from the best of the series.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elena

    2.5 stars. Definitely my least favourite in the series so far. I am sad, not only because the book before this was my favourite, but also because, while I enjoyed all the previous novels, I struggled with this one. I think my main problem was that my favourite characters were (view spoiler)[either dead (Philippe V) or mostly absent (Mahaut, Spinello Tolomei) (hide spoiler)] . I was also disappointed in Isabella's characterization: while I loved her when she defied her husband and the Despensers in 2.5 stars. Definitely my least favourite in the series so far. I am sad, not only because the book before this was my favourite, but also because, while I enjoyed all the previous novels, I struggled with this one. I think my main problem was that my favourite characters were (view spoiler)[either dead (Philippe V) or mostly absent (Mahaut, Spinello Tolomei) (hide spoiler)] . I was also disappointed in Isabella's characterization: while I loved her when she defied her husband and the Despensers in her first scene, for the rest of the book she was portrayed as a woman in love, with little political acumen or shrewdness. I don't doubt that she was smitten with Roger Mortimer, but from history it is also clear she was strong-minded and cunning. Mortimer's characterization, however, was interesting: it was very sympathetic, which was refreshing since I've always read negative portrayals of him, but not overly positive. It was easy to justify some of his actions, but he also did plenty of awful things. Despite my disappointment with this one, I will finish the series. Hopefully I will enjoy the last two books more.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    This was pretty good. On to the next volume!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    After a few very poignant and highly dramatic few novels, Druon pushes the story forward, through a handful of less than problematic years, while showing that the Templar curse is strong. Another king, another early death, leaving Charles IV to assume the throne, the third brother to do so after the tumultuous death of Philippe V. Druon's focus moves across the Channel, if only for a brief time, to show how France's actions spread outside of their own borders. While readers have revelled in the After a few very poignant and highly dramatic few novels, Druon pushes the story forward, through a handful of less than problematic years, while showing that the Templar curse is strong. Another king, another early death, leaving Charles IV to assume the throne, the third brother to do so after the tumultuous death of Philippe V. Druon's focus moves across the Channel, if only for a brief time, to show how France's actions spread outside of their own borders. While readers have revelled in the actions within France, with its kings and their decisions, Queen Isabella of England remains solidly on the throne, beside the less than kingly Edward II. Daughter to the late Philip IV of France, Isabella seeks to weaken the English power by encouraging her blood relations to strike while the possibility remains fruitful. After a successful escape from the Tower of London, Roger Mortimer flees England in hopes of commencing an uprising against Edward and England as a whole. A weak Charles IV sits on the French throne, but many at court have plans to make his reign anything but neutered. When Mortimer reaches France, he commences plans to take the English down, with the help of troops whose allegiance to the cause leaves little doubt, but that will keep blood from staining Charles' hands. Isabella now has the chance to flee and uses it, feigning a desire to see her brother in France, but using the opportunity to share herself with Mortimer, whose love she discovers almost by accident. While Edward summons her home, his power is soon challenged and he finds himself on the other end of the table, as Parliament uses its prerogative to remove him. Mortimer strikes and takes Edward away, leaving Edward III to assume to throne and Isabella to ponder the next move. But what of the 'true' King of France, Jean I, whose death still stings the French court? He remains secluded, unaware of his role in this larger play, with the protection of many and a pope now keeping his secret. That secret, though, could bring a kingdom to its knees faster than Edward II's demise...but that is the subject of another novel. A great new angle by Druon injects new excitement into The Accursed Kings series and leaves the reader wanting more at every turn. Druon has spun quite the tale up to this point, mixing history with fiction and instilling his own version of dramatic events. He keeps the story moving and uses his characters wisely to tell the tale, keeping a few story lines active and ensuring that the characters move towards a common goal, the downfall of the apparently strong France. The English angle, spoken of briefly in the opening novel, returns with new information and shows that while France has been going through its major changes, little has happened in London. Edward II has been biding his time and ruling over his kingdom, married to the young Isabella, who, most certainly, has taken in all the pain and suffering of her own blood relations. Isabella is given a persona much like her father and brothers, where ruthlessness is strong and a desire to remove those who block her ascension is second to none. Druon's great narrative moves the story along and leaves crumbs for what is sure to be an explosive next novel. Kudos, M. Druon, for making this another great novel in the series. What have you in store for readers next to whet their appetites?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    This book is the best book in this series so far. I love the entire series, but this one is about a Capetian female queen, Isabella, married to Edward II of England who prefers men. It continues to follow the line of kings following Phillip the Fair in France, but sidetracks to cover Isabella when Charles IV is a fairly lackluster leader. We also get to catch up on the Lombard moneylenders, the posthumous-King, and the romance between Guccio and Maria. But most of the book is about Isabella, and This book is the best book in this series so far. I love the entire series, but this one is about a Capetian female queen, Isabella, married to Edward II of England who prefers men. It continues to follow the line of kings following Phillip the Fair in France, but sidetracks to cover Isabella when Charles IV is a fairly lackluster leader. We also get to catch up on the Lombard moneylenders, the posthumous-King, and the romance between Guccio and Maria. But most of the book is about Isabella, and WOW, what a character. Strong, intelligent, and knows when to go for it and when to yield. There are parts of this that I say "Is this true?" Was Edward II really so cruel to his royal wife, humiliating her, taking her personal items and giving them to his lover? Is this documented? Druon is SO good, so thorough, I usually just go straight to the footnotes in the back of the book so I won't have to slow down while I am reading. I learn so much, and yet, this time, I want to know exactly how much is true and how much he added in to help us identify with the queen, or to further the story. When I am reading this book, it takes me back to campfire days, when a very good story teller would be telling us stories, a little scary, very detailed, and would hold us in the palm of his/her hand. Every night, a new chapter, and we would go to bed with our heads spinning. Druon is like that for me, and now I can hardly wait for the next book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Boudewijn

    Philip V of France has died and has been succeeded by Charles IV. His sister, Queen Isabella, is with her lover Roger Mortimer and her son Edward III at his court. Roger Mortimer invades England and deposes Edward II, who is succeeded by Edward III. Meanwhile, a boy is growing up in Crecy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Will Chin

    Going into The She-Wolf, the fifth book in Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings series, I had my expectations under control. The Royal Succession is my favourite book in the series thus far, and it is a TOUGH act to follow. All the scheming and backstabbing are amped up in book four, and Druon held nothing back with the hard punches. So, as the follow-up act, The She-Wolf was already at a slight disadvantage. However, I really wanted to read about Isabella of France (the She-Wolf), and I was hopin Going into The She-Wolf, the fifth book in Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings series, I had my expectations under control. The Royal Succession is my favourite book in the series thus far, and it is a TOUGH act to follow. All the scheming and backstabbing are amped up in book four, and Druon held nothing back with the hard punches. So, as the follow-up act, The She-Wolf was already at a slight disadvantage. However, I really wanted to read about Isabella of France (the She-Wolf), and I was hoping for her to be the yang to Mahaut d'Artois' yin. I am slightly disappointed in that department, now that I have finished the book, but more on that later. The She-Wolf actually jumps ahead and skips over the reign of Philip V, the one good king in a sea of incompetent, corrupted dicks in medieval France. Druon writes at the beginning that nothing eventful happened during Philip V's reign, which was why he decided to skip over the details—which just goes to show how good a king Philip V was. No wars were fought, no barons were poisoned, and no queens were left to rot in a high tower. Perhaps that is why Druon preferred to skip over the mundane, but that's a good thing! After an introductory chapter, or a summary of Philip V's reign, we are right back to the meat of the story. Here, Philip V is dead (natural causes), and Charles IV, his brother, is king. Meanwhile, France is having some disputes with England over Aquitaine (thanks to—who else—Robert d'Artois), and, long story short, Isabella of France, Edward II's wife, is sent to France to negotiate peace terms. Here's what the history books has to say about Isabella of France. She was married off to England by her father, Philip IV, like a political chess piece. And, the fact that the King of England turned out to be gay did not help with the situation at all. Despite giving birth to a handful of heirs for Edward II, Isabella longed to return to France, her birthplace. The conflict between France and England, and her role as an emissary of sorts, became the perfect excuse for Isabella to make her escape. So, she escapes England, raises an army (with the help of her lover), invades England, kicks Edward II out of the throne, puts her son (Edward III) there, executes everyone who has done her wrong, then WINS HISTORY. That's some Mahaut d'Artois level shit, right? If history has taught us anything, it is that you do not mess with medieval women, because they will go medieval on you. But The She-Wolf does not actually depict Isabella as such. The broad strokes are there, of course. You see Isabella's flight from England, and you see how she raises and army in her name. But the She-Wolf in Druon's depiction has lost some of her fangs. Instead of the ruthless, empowered queen we've come to know in the history books, Druon's version of Isabella is a tad too vulnerable, especially when most of her decisions were swayed by her hatred towards the Dispensers and her love for Roger Mortimer. I don't mind if we get to see a more vulnerable side of a powerful female character. In fact, I LOVE reading about that. However, in this book, Isabella seldom makes any decision. Instead, the people around her are the decision makers; the ones calling the shots. She wasn't the one who devised a plan to leave England, and she wasn't the one to raise the army. Instead, everybody else made plans for her, and she went along with it. The only time when I felt her bite was during her conversations with Edward II and the Dispensers. Those scenes were masterful, and the She-Wolf really came out to play. But after Mortimer was introduced to the picture, she became a tamed little house dog with her teeth blunted. A little disappointed, to that end. Also, I am a little disappointed with the lack of the Marie Cressay and Guccio Baglioni story line. After the incredible twist at the end of The Royal Succession, I was hoping for a look at how the two have dealt with the situation. Instead, we got one chapter in the book, and the two don't even meet! Throughout the first four books, the two were the shining lights of humanity, and even though the light was dimmed considerably in the last book (due to circumstances), I was still rooting for them. I wanted them to work out! Yet, we got one chapter out of this book, which is a little disappointing to me. So, why the four-star rating? That's because Druon's writing continues to be a powerful, plot-driving machine. He has the ability to create characters (although they are based on real people) that you hate at the beginning, then turn them around for your sympathy towards the end. Edward II comes across as an unless, incompetent who is driving England into the mud with his bad decisions. Yet, towards to end, I couldn't help but sympathise with him a little, when he was kicked off his throne, arrested in the countryside, thrown in prison and later assassinated—in the most horrible way, may I add. I'm not the kind of reader with a weak stomach, but that last chapter ("The Red Hot Poker) really got to me somehow. It was tough to read, and I genuinely wanted a different fate for Edward II. Of course, history will tell you that his death is shrouded in mystery, and some people continue to believe that he died of natural causes. Others believe that he was assassinated, but the METHOD continues to be debated. I just HOPE, for the love of GOD, that the actual method did not involve Druon's red hot poker. Edward II was a piece of shit, but no one deserved his death. Anyway, that's why historical fiction is so great. We get to speculate, and that's super fun. The Lily and the Lion will be published in February (in paperback anyway), and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Richter

    Written in the late fifties and early sixties, and translated from the original French editions. Book Five focuses on Queen Isabelle ( The She Wolf) sister to the French King and wife of the English King Edwards. It is best if you know a little about the time span that makes up the "100 Years War" . The writing suffers a bit from its age, but still a good tale if you want to learn more about French History. Written in the late fifties and early sixties, and translated from the original French editions. Book Five focuses on Queen Isabelle ( The She Wolf) sister to the French King and wife of the English King Edwards. It is best if you know a little about the time span that makes up the "100 Years War" . The writing suffers a bit from its age, but still a good tale if you want to learn more about French History.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk

    I have enjoyed the Maurice Druon "Cursed Kings" series (though I must admit that my memories of the French TV drama warm my heart and drive my liking for the books). This, "The She Wolf", the 5th in the series continues to be an easy yet entertaining read. The scene shifts to the incompetent rule of Edward II in England, his mistreatment of his wife Isabella, and the rebellion of Mortimer. If you're familiar with English History then the story is straightforward. The book has its over-the-top me I have enjoyed the Maurice Druon "Cursed Kings" series (though I must admit that my memories of the French TV drama warm my heart and drive my liking for the books). This, "The She Wolf", the 5th in the series continues to be an easy yet entertaining read. The scene shifts to the incompetent rule of Edward II in England, his mistreatment of his wife Isabella, and the rebellion of Mortimer. If you're familiar with English History then the story is straightforward. The book has its over-the-top melodrama that either dates the writing or Druon's ideas of chivalry, but the political machinations pile high and out heroes and villanesses in the French court continue to make their welcome appearances. Talking about appearances, I cannot deny that from about two-thirds of the way in I was awaiting the red hot poker.... No disappointments there.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    11 DEC 2020 - to start later tonight. Hurray! Another 5 stars.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Cassidy

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. For a translated book, I really loved this novel, and the following five books in the seven book series (the seventh apparently has not been translated from French yet, and there's no way I'm corrupting my budding Spanish language skills by attempting to read a novel in French). I am normally super wary about reading translated works, because, understandably, something always gets lost in the translation. This translator, Humphrey Hare, back in 1958 when he was doing his thing, did a fantastic j For a translated book, I really loved this novel, and the following five books in the seven book series (the seventh apparently has not been translated from French yet, and there's no way I'm corrupting my budding Spanish language skills by attempting to read a novel in French). I am normally super wary about reading translated works, because, understandably, something always gets lost in the translation. This translator, Humphrey Hare, back in 1958 when he was doing his thing, did a fantastic job. I am reviewing the series as a whole in this entry, so beware: there are spoilers. First, the characters are well developed and compelling. Almost everyone in the first novel except two of the main characters are killed off by the end of the sixth book, and by killed off I mean: burned at the stake, quartered, poisoned (so much poisoning!), strangled, suicided, bungled with a red-hot poker up the arse (sorry, King Edward II) and driven mad. If you like The Song of Ice and Fire because it's nontraditional in that major characters die and it's awful and exciting and it keeps you on your toes, you'll like this book series. In fact, George R.R. Martin has an endorsement on the new 2013 addition, calling this series "the original Game of Thrones." And before they die, each character is his own tyrant, with his unique story, and the ways that their lives intertwine are well described. My favorite is Robert of Artois, who is also the novelist's favorite. I won't tell you how he dies. Second, the novel is fast paced. Action abounds. This series is a definite page turner. Each novel ends at the beginning of some new twist of fate or folly or force. I gobbled these books up in less than a month. Third, the vocabulary is rich and it makes reading on a Kindle super enjoyable because you can think, "Wait, Kindle, what does catamite mean?" And then Kindle informs you, "That's a boy groomed for sexual purposes, a 'pubescent boy who was the intimate companion of a young man in ancient Rome, usually in a pederastic relationship,'" and you're like, right ON! So not only are you learning about the early 1300s of the French dynasty and the plot twists of how destructive the Capets were, but you're also picking up new (okay, archaic) and exciting words! I loved the use of archaic terms. They added to the Medieval tone of the story. The only sort of downer to this book is that the author uses foreshadowing like a blunt axe. "From that kiss, she would go on to mother the King of France!" "How their hears would break, if they knew then that they would not see each other again but once in their lives, and then, only after ten years have passed from this romantic farewell." I am not even certain that I can correctly label what he does as foreshadowing; it's more akin to ruining some major plot twists with a single sentence. But since this is, after all, historical fiction, I guess he's entitled. Five stars. Recommended strongly.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    I wasn't as enamored of this book in the series as some of the others. Part of that may be that the intrigues were too diffuse, or that I know the story of Edward II, Isabella, and Mortimer too well. Or that I interrupted my reading about half-way through and read 4 other books in the interim. Or it could be that I find the Capetian Royal House of France BORING. Yes, yes, I know--how can I find all that backstabbing, petty jealousies, infanticide, and corruption boring? After all, am I not a devo I wasn't as enamored of this book in the series as some of the others. Part of that may be that the intrigues were too diffuse, or that I know the story of Edward II, Isabella, and Mortimer too well. Or that I interrupted my reading about half-way through and read 4 other books in the interim. Or it could be that I find the Capetian Royal House of France BORING. Yes, yes, I know--how can I find all that backstabbing, petty jealousies, infanticide, and corruption boring? After all, am I not a devotee of that similar period of English history, the War of the Roses? And do I not find endless fascination in that quagmire known as the Angevin dynasty? Well, yes. To both. But there is something about the Capets, and their successors the House of Valois, that I find...distasteful. I can't explain it. However, there is a silver lining to the book. In this volume young Edward Plantagenet meets and falls in love with chubby, freckled Philippa of Hainault, thus assuring that my favorite historical romance novel of all time, Katherine, by Anya Seton, will be written. Ah, but before I re-read that, I must finish this series--two left. And about a hundred other books in stacks beside my bed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrei Roibu

    Although the read starts a bit monotonous, the progression of the novel becomes really interesting by shifting the focus of the novel from medieval France to medieval England. This comes as a breath of fresh air to the read which was risking falling into monotony after the previous 4 novels. Now the story takes an interesting shift and an heir to the late king Philippe le Bel emerges.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    The title in English is "She-Wolf of France". I have read more than my fair share of books on Isabella and Edward II, but I was still engaged by this author's treatment of the period. This series continues to impress. The title in English is "She-Wolf of France". I have read more than my fair share of books on Isabella and Edward II, but I was still engaged by this author's treatment of the period. This series continues to impress.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bettie

    (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kiesha ~ 1Cheekylass

    Eh, my least favorite of this series so far.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Read it a few years ago and loathed it, absolutely loathed it. I'll begin with a few things that I did like. The list of characters at the beginning is very helpful, and I like the system of 'Historical Notes' at the end of the novel, even if they're not always totally accurate (I don't know why the younger Despenser's claim to the earldom of Gloucester was 'fantastic'). As for the characters, I liked seeing the earl of Kent in Gascony in 1324 - normally Kent never appears in Edward II novels unt Read it a few years ago and loathed it, absolutely loathed it. I'll begin with a few things that I did like. The list of characters at the beginning is very helpful, and I like the system of 'Historical Notes' at the end of the novel, even if they're not always totally accurate (I don't know why the younger Despenser's claim to the earldom of Gloucester was 'fantastic'). As for the characters, I liked seeing the earl of Kent in Gascony in 1324 - normally Kent never appears in Edward II novels until his attempt to rescue his brother the king in 1330, so it's refreshing to see another side of him here. Also, Roger Mortimer is pretty sympathetic here, which he rarely is in novels. His relationship with Isabella in Paris in 1325 is very nicely portrayed as a genuine love affair. His escape from the Tower proves that he's resourceful and courageous, and unlike the rest of the English characters, he's 'so handsome and so great a lord' with a 'strong, confident body'. Mortimer at least has genuine grievances against Edward and Despenser. The rest of the characterisation, at least of the English characters, is just horrible. Edward II himself is so utterly feeble you can only feel contempt. Mortimer is the only remotely sympathetic English character. And the biggest problem I have with the novel is that, despite the title, it's really not about Isabella at all. It's a novel about France which happens to include some scenes set in England. OK, it's a series about French history - but then why call this one 'The She-Wolf of France' when Isabella and Edward only appear in a handful of scenes? Most of the novel is set in France. The death scene of Charles of Valois, Isabella's uncle, goes on interminably. The only time Edward and Isabella appear together (and one of only four scenes where Edward appears at all) is in the second scene of the novel, after the Prologue and Mortimer's escape from the Tower. Isabella is sitting on her throne whinging to the French ambassador about her awful life when Edward, the Despensers and some of the English nobles enter the room. Isabella then proceeds to insult Edward, over and over, in front of the whole court. Neither Edward nor Hugh Despenser respond to her insults - they blush, pretend not to hear, change the subject. This is a really bad way of writing fiction: the scene should have crackled with tension, as Edward and Isabella exchange (spoken) blows and witty repartee. As it is, Edward and Despenser seem totally pathetic, no match at all for Isabella. Another bad way of writing fiction - it would make for a much better novel to equalise their opposition, to make us see why Isabella hates them and wants to destroy them. Also, giving Edward the ability to hit back would have given the reader a glimpse into their awful marriage, and possibly lots of other interesting information like the impending war with France. But there's no insight at all. As it is, the scene just makes Edward even more pathetic, if that's possible. The French ambassador Bouville thinks that Isabella is 'brave' to stand up to the king, but it doesn't seem so to me - in fact, it seems cruel, like kicking a man who can't kick back. The narrative claims that Isabella is 'surrounded by so much hatred', but we never see this. We only see that all the hatred is coming from her. Druon tells far more than he shows, and what he shows is different from what he tells us. It's pointless to state in the narrative that Isabella 'suffers' when the reader never sees it. All that she seems to 'suffer' in this scene is having to put her feet on a threadbare footstool. Well, boo-hoo. It's also stated that she believes her life to be in danger from the Despensers. When we see the Despensers, however, it's hard to imagine that they could even find their way to the privy by themselves, never mind plot to have the queen of England murdered. Druon tells us that Edward II is 'handsome', a 'fine-looking man, muscular, lithe and alert' with an 'athlete's constitution'. Yet the details used to describe him make him grotesque. He has pouches beneath his eyes, an 'uncertain line of the curve of the nostril', an overly large (but weak, naturally) chin and a spine that 'curved unpleasantly from the neck to the waist, as if the spine lacked substance'. A deformed back in an athlete? Really? Oh, and his hands are 'flaccid' and 'flutter aimlessly', he pirouettes, he stamps his foot. Lovely. His friends fare no better. His niece Eleanor (Hugh Despenser's wife) has 'that quality of ugliness imprinted by a wicked nature'. Hugh Despenser (the younger) is 'too curled, scented and over-dressed for a man of thirty-three'. He is narrow-chested and has a 'bad, spotty skin'; later in the novel he is 'wide-hipped and pigeon-breasted' though Druon does allow him a 'well-shaped mouth'. Despenser's father, called 'the weasel', apparently, is described thus: 'cupidity, envy, meanness, self-seeking, deceit, and all the gratifications these vices can procure for their possessor were manifest in the lines of his face and beaneath his red eyelids'. It is predominantly, though not exclusively, the English characters who are described in such terms; Jeanne the Lame, wife of Philip of Valois, has a face 'made hideous by the avarice of her thoughts'. Even Isabella is constantly said to have 'little carnivore's teeth' though she does have 'beautiful blue eyes' and her 'beauty was unrivalled by that of any young girl.' The younger Despenser's 'expression seemed to imply: "This time things have really gone too far; we shall have to take stern measures!"' I have tried, and failed, to imagine what this expression would look like. Like most of this scene with Edward, Isabella and the Despensers, it makes no sense. And if he's really the kind of man who would plot to have the queen murdered, shouldn't his expression be more sinister? I found it utterly impossible to summon up a shred of sympathy or liking for these despicable people. They are ugly and repulsive to the point of being grotesque, yet are not villainous enough to be interesting. My reaction was to recoil from them. At least the elder Despenser dies well. That's the best thing you can say about any of them. A lot of the dialogue is pitiful - almost entirely the dialogue spoken by the English characters. When the French characters speak, they make sense. Edward's last line before he is murdered (with the usual, mythical red-hot poker) is "Oh you brutes, you brutes, you shan't kill me!" Dignified and moving, no? No? Unfortunately, it makes me giggle every time I think about it. At the time of the arrest, 'Hugh the Younger, emaciated, trembling, threw himself on the king's breast. His teeth chattered, he seemed about to swoon and he groaned: "You see, it's your wife who has ordered all this. It is she, that French she-wolf, who is the cause of it all. Oh, Edward, Edward, why did you marry her?"' Umm, because he was the king of England and she was the daughter of the king of France, and their marriage was part of an arrangement between the two countries - as Despenser well knew? Despenser was a pirate. Not to mention a clever, ruthless extortionist who had been ruling England for a few years. Would he really talk and behave like that?? The only line the future Edward III gets in the whole novel is "Oh no, you wicked woman, you shan't have everything!" (spoken to his cousin Eleanor Despenser about a book she wants). But we do get some stunning insight into his thoughts while watching the younger Despenser's execution: "Is that really the man my father loved so much?" Superb, really. A lot of the novel is psychologically unconvincing. For example, Mortimer's wife Joan de Geneville ('Lady Jeanne Mortimer') is dealt with in a single paragraph: 'Lady Jeanne suffered terribly from this betrayal by the two people in the world she had loved and served best. Did fifteen years of attendance on Queen Isabella, of devotion, intimacy and shared risks, deserve such a reward?.....Lady Jeanne, who had always been so loyal, found herself among the vanquished. And yet she could forgive, she could retire with dignity, precisely because the two people she most admired were concerned and because she understood that these two people were bound inevitably to fall in love as soon as Fate had brought them together." How convenient. That gets rid of her, doesn't it? Saves Isabella and Mortimer from having to feel guilty, and Druon from having to deal with the thorny problem of Mortimer's adultery. This often happens in novels - Joan de Geneville is either ignored, or made so dull and sexless that nobody could ever blame Mortimer for preferring the beautiful, exciting Isabella. Strangely, nobody ever uses this excuse for Edward II. Maybe he found Despenser a lot more exciting than his wife. I don't mean to tread on anyone's toes here, and I know Druon has many fans. However, this is a really poor effort, and I haven't even mentioned the numerous historical inaccuracies (Henry of Lancaster was not called Crouchback - that was his father; Despenser became Edward's favourite in the years 1318-20, not 1312). I finished the novel, because I can't imagine ever not finishing a novel which includes Edward II and Isabella, but everyone here is so despicable I felt like taking a bath after I'd read it. No - make that several baths.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Raimondo Lagioia

    Upon starting this book, I was quite disconcerted. Its immediate prequel was very promising, threatening tribulations upon the head of the recently-crowned Philippe le Long. I thought that we're going to be treated with the exploits of the wily and sagacious king, only for the series to skip six(!) long years to the accession of his uninspiring younger brother, Charles IV. Le sigh. All's not lost though as the book finally brings to the spotlight the favored child of the late King Philippe le Be Upon starting this book, I was quite disconcerted. Its immediate prequel was very promising, threatening tribulations upon the head of the recently-crowned Philippe le Long. I thought that we're going to be treated with the exploits of the wily and sagacious king, only for the series to skip six(!) long years to the accession of his uninspiring younger brother, Charles IV. Le sigh. All's not lost though as the book finally brings to the spotlight the favored child of the late King Philippe le Bel: Queen Isabella, the eponymous Louve de France. Unfortunately though, in this book she didn't come across as tough and as puissant as I hoped. Historians depict her as courageous, cunning, and relentless in her pursuit of revenge; here she comes across as a milquetoast whose most critical decisions are steered by love. It's a bit of a letdown, but I just remind myself that even if the curse of the Templars may have contributed to the extinction of the direct Capetian line, it was nevertheless through her that the posterity of her father survived the French Revolution four centuries hence, being a progenitor of the current Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland twenty-two generations removed. Even though it's one of the lengthiest entries in Les Rois Maudits, the book is rather fast-paced. This doesn't come as much of a surprise since while the previous four books cover the events of several months to a year each, here we hastened through the four years between the escape of Roger Mortimer and the murder of King Edward II. Regarding the latter, the poignant way he lost his pride and majesty after his abdication was one of the best treatments in the entire series. I especially liked how the young Edward III was learning to wield the levers of power in his gradual ascent, avoiding the pitfalls of dependence and imprudence. This bodes well for the next book where the promising teenage king comes into his own as the singular ruler of England. 8/10; 4 stars.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Raughley Nuzzi

    In book 5 of the series, I can more clearly see where George R.R. Martin picked up some of his themes, plotlines, and settings. I was initially set back by the time jump, wherein the story advanced six years, more time than was covered in the entirety of books 1-4. Additionally, the introduction of a new cast of characters, with their new intrigues, felt strange at first, though I quickly grew to appreciate them as well (More so than, say, in the case of Dorne in Game of Thrones). The story conti In book 5 of the series, I can more clearly see where George R.R. Martin picked up some of his themes, plotlines, and settings. I was initially set back by the time jump, wherein the story advanced six years, more time than was covered in the entirety of books 1-4. Additionally, the introduction of a new cast of characters, with their new intrigues, felt strange at first, though I quickly grew to appreciate them as well (More so than, say, in the case of Dorne in Game of Thrones). The story continues to compel me and I have to resist the urge to dive into Wikipedia pages on Edward II or Jean the Posthumous for fear of spoiling plot twists by pre-emptively learning some of the relevant history. As usual, the book ends with some finality, but also with a sense that the machinations of history are pushing its characters to greater conflict and suffering.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Augusto Bernardi

    These books seem to be consistently good but also not quite there yet to be perfect. They start off great with potential for great plot twists and epic dark endings but somehow get caught up in boring rushed politics. This book also doesn't really have any real protagonist despite the title of the book. All in all this one was unique because I think it was more of a romance or drama than anything else. I thoroughly enjoyed many scenes. Roger Mortimer, baron of wigham in jail in the tower of Londo These books seem to be consistently good but also not quite there yet to be perfect. They start off great with potential for great plot twists and epic dark endings but somehow get caught up in boring rushed politics. This book also doesn't really have any real protagonist despite the title of the book. All in all this one was unique because I think it was more of a romance or drama than anything else. I thoroughly enjoyed many scenes. Roger Mortimer, baron of wigham in jail in the tower of London after being imprisoned by king Edward the second. A dark chapter of him and his uncle in his cold and wet cell. He has a daily battle with a large English raven that tries to peck his eyes out and he in turn tries to strangle it. He keeps trying but with no success. His old and feeble uncle is in terrible condition over the months they have been imprisoned together and hasn't been neither standing out taking care of his hygiene. Mortimer the younger, is planning to be the first to escape the tower of London. His weekly barber is secretly an informant of his which exchanges messages with him and his ally the bishop. That night, after months of imprisonment he sees that the guards are all vomiting and then falling asleep as they have been drugged. Two men then save Roger from the tower but leave his uncle behind for he asks to stay behind because of his condition. They escape and get to a boat where the bishop was waiting there for them. Roger is to go in hiding in Artois. The next chapter is quite loaded with information, it follows the book's protagonist, Queen Isabella of England, the She wolf of France. Daughter of Philip the fair and sister to the king of France Charles ( since the last book apparently Philippe has passed away and not much information has been said about it). Although she a woman, she was the most like her father. She spends most of her days with her lady in waiting, Jeanne, who is Roger Mortimer's wife, and her young son. She lives in fear and hatred of her husband the king so she never sleeps without his heir ( their infant son) and never talks without being aware of spies. Life at court is terribly alone. Her husband Edward the second is a blond middle aged man that wants to be loved by all in the kingdom no matter what rank they are by talking about important matters of politics with no importance , attempting to brag. He openly caresses the hand of his lovers as Edward the second was a flamboyant homosexual who regularly insulted his wife's digit by betraying her with other men. For the last couple of days she has been spending time with Hugues de Bouville who she likes for his kind manner and his admiration and loyalty to herself and her father. Bouville since the last book has thankfully become a widower and had been sent to England on some other pretext but had actually been charged to arrange the marriage of Edward, the Queen's son and the youngest daughter of Charles of Valois had been waiting for a reply from the king but had not received any reply yet. Elianor Dispenser, the king's lover's wife, an ugly petty woman that tries to spie on the Queen as she plays chess with, Edward, a timid boy of 11 and the Queen's son and heir to the throne. A vain, power hungry but foolish woman. The king then storms into the room with his entourage of counsellors and is obviously nervous and irritated with the escape of the rebel baron Roger Mortimer from prison. The Queen does not show her relief of hearing the news. The king, a muscular man with a far too large chin, a curved spine, unlined forehead and growing bags under his eyes, takes out his rage or on the Queen blaming her. He despises he also for being French and her father and brothers have been king and also for her having more authority in her manner than he could ever hope for. Another insecure man overshadowed by his wife despite having more power than he. The Queen though was far more witty and not the kind to back down from accusations and a flurry of backhanded facts were hurled at the king for his incompetence and hypocrisy. The king then as a sort of revenge then, refuses to accept any proposals for his son's marriage and also sends Jean, Isabella's only friend away to her own castle. They don't exchange any farewells in fear of crying Infront of the king. The only reassurance she had was that her son Edward was on her side. Her fierce manner and intelligence and complicated life has turned Isabella into one of my favourite characters of the series. Tolomei meanwhile was in his office and watches as the mighty Robert of Artois walk in with his red mantle and gloves. Tolomei being a very wise man himself knows that this brute attitude by Artois is fake and only is constituted because of being born exceptionally physically gifted. In reality Tolomei knows of Artois's craftiness and cunning. Robert is accompanied by a hooded man that Tolomei correctly guesses is Roger Mortimer who has taken refuge in Artois. Robert has since the last novel regained his favour and power by marrying one of Charles of Valois's daughters, Jeanne. They come to ask for money for the exiled former baron. Apparently Charles of Valois, who more or less controls the kingdom for his nephew, king Charles, and is planning on going on another one of his expensive military campaigns as a crusade. The pope Jean ( note: something you'll face while reading or writing about medieval royalty is that there are a tremendous amount of repetitive names like Jean and Charles) has also regained the wealth for the church with his plans taxes. Apparently Charles of Valois wants to use the taxes also to find his holy campaign. Tolomei loans them the money and then buys all the other currencies he can find with help from another Italian banker from the other books, as he can predict lucrative demand on it. What I particularly liked about the chapter though was what Druon does exceptionally well which are the subtle actions that reveal a characters inner thoughts and personality like Tolomei purposely letting the 2 other men peak into his diary while he pretends to naively open it infront of them. But he only allows them to see the names of the prior he's done business with and not the sun's of money exchanged. During this post he made an interesting comment about the famous Italian poet, Dante who had also done business with him. Apparently a snobby soon of a banker himself. Tolomei throughout the chapter also had some more emotional thoughts about him aging ( being in 60s now) which seems to be a reoccurring theme in Druons work. He also expresses missing his nephew Guccio who had refused to return to France. A young face in the house to give him colour in his day. Charles of Valois is in counsel, lavishly dressed but short of being king, is then offering Roger to join him on the crusade. Robert of Artis watches silently. He knows that this whole act has nothing to do with the holy land but rather getting there and collecting taxes and plundering on the way to fill Valois's pockets. Without many options, Mortimer accepts the offer but will not be helped with his case in England besides not being handed over. Robert of Artois is not interested in going to the crusade but cannot say it openly he manages to convince Valois sneakily that France will be left undefended against England so then France should assist the Scots that are at war with England and then use some or excuse of the situation getting out of control for their invasion. Mortimer is not really thrilled with attacking his own country and is more worried about his wife and especially the Queen that is surrounded by spies and enemies. Valois is willing to gamble he life though. An interesting detail on Roger's personality is that he took a view of chastity after escaping the tower and failing to kill the bird Edward when he wanted to. There was a brief chapter and outline about the current king Charles. A man that physically looked like his father bit was an utter fool with no own opinions and short memory that was only interested in domestic matters. He has since divorced Blanche and remarried. But before after a miscarriage, she also does and the king has to remarry again which set back the war again. There were other set backs but eventually the army set of in the hot sun and attacked a city with their newly applied cannons from the Italians. Next chapter was about pope Jean or John that had since made himself and his City of Avion much richer. He lived with a few relatives of his and supposedly even his illegitimate child. Bouville had come to visit him in regards to Charles of Valois's crusade and war with England. He tried to breach the subject subtly but Bouville is not a man of words and the pope besides being an extremely clever man, was now not a man to mince around. The pope at first refuses to pay for future ventures but is convinced to bribe Valois and pay him off. After business was put off the way, Bouville then goes to confession to "save his soul" route thing and confesses about the incident in the last book where he switched the babies and the real king is actually still alive growing up as a normal boy. Bouville also goes into a little more on how he was not able to solve this crime as he would have been alone in the truth and Mahaut and Philippe against him. The pope was amazed with the confession and pardons Bouville and let's him leave relieved. But he decides against doing anything about it and keeping the secret to himself as he did indeed like the late king and also didn't want to run his own claim to the papecy. Next chapter was on Isabel returning to her home country of France, sent to negotiate peace between France and England. She is on horse back and she is overwhelmed with nostalgia as she passes by places that she's been before. Returning to her home as if the last fifteen years had not happened. She is accompanied by the talkative Robert of Artois and also close by Roger Mortimer. She eventually gets to king Charles who seems like a disappointing copy of his father and didn't actually have a clue why she was there and was more inclined to talk about his failed marriages and unsuccessful pregnancies. He did not listen to the slightest in regards to politics. Roger Mortimer then accompanies her to her quarters and they have an intimate moment, with some embarrassment and shyness and respect where they eventually confess their feeling about the other and then finally make love together. "Thank God for have given her such wonderful a sin". She keeps him as her lover for years to come and did not want to return to England as long as he didn't. A touching chapter of her new found happiness of finally being in love after so many years of humiliation. Druon goes into detail about her feelings and thoughts. There were later a attempts on Roger's life but that was resolved Tolomei. Then finally, the greatest asshole of the series finally had a stroke at 55 where he stayed bedridden for several months even with relapses, his body slowly loosing it's functions and half paralysed. But this was another deeply powerful chapter I liked. Valois beside being bedridden realises that despite his long career with all his titles and close realisations to the crown and power over Europe, that all did not matter as he lies there helpless. In this moment of self reflection, he realises that the only person he misses is his long rival and enemy that he himself condemned, Enguerrand de Marigny. He would have liked to sit back with him and reminisce on the good old times. Another deep concern of his was death, which is a constant deep concern of mine! Wondering if the transition and what comes next and what he will be leaving behind. An interesting metaphor Druon uses is something along the lines of: "a Cathedral with all the candles blown out after hours". As he goes to dictate his will to the people around his deathbed, he comes to a abrupt halt as he comes to the cold and hard realisation that this is the last time he will use his own name. Something that defines his identity. He then proceeds to dictate that he would like to distribute his wealth and belongings to so and so but what I liked was that he wishes to be buried beside his 2 deceased wives. He thinks to himself that how bizarre it is that despite their bodies have dried up and turned to dust long ago, the desire of then still prevailed. Months later he died. Edward meanwhile is sending letters to France to Isabella for her to go back to England with her son. At first he tries to pathetically convince her that everything is fine and that she should come back to a better life but she refuses on l because of the Despencers and then the king loses his temper as usual and starts with the threats and accusations throughout the kingdom of adultery but to no avail for Isabella was very well liked in France and England. A respected beautiful woman who all admired and envied. Isabella then goes to Tolomei to ask for money but he at first refuses on basis of England debts to him. He then only accepts to give them a part of the money they asked in the case that he funds the armies for Isabella to take over England and then pay the debts then. Finally another chapter with the reoccuring character, Guccio. The Italian boy who is by now in his late 20s and is not just of considerable wealth, but also power. He is on his way back to cressay to retrieve his son from Marie, his wife who he had not seen in nine years. On his way he is still full of hatred of the family and of Marie for her abandoning him after his efforts. He was still heart broken and would like to get revenge on her but he also speculated of it was all a misunderstanding. He was willing to forget all the to love her again. He was sent by the pope Bouville who has greeted him very kindly. Once Marie was informed she sent for her dress given to her by Guccio years ago which she had never written but cried over many times. So traffic and poetic. For some reason she had started to tremble uncontrollably as she read what Guccio was there for and then refuses to even see him again. Disappointed, Guccio takes his son, who wasn't actually his son at all but rather the soon of Clemence of Hungary who looked nothing like Guccio. A reuniting chapter of learning to be a father which was awkward at first but then was heart felt as they rode together to Paris. Guccio started teaching him Italian and started lavishing the boy with clothes and gifts. He then took the boy to meet Clemence of Hungary, the former Queen, who was actually the boy's mother. The Queen, a much changed woman that lives in the castle now of the former grand master Templar, received them quickly but did not dwell on memories or kindness but rather kept the matter formal. An unfortunate and ironic scene of her almost dismissing the son she mourned so dearly. At the coronation of the new Queen of France, all the important political figures from the books were present with their new titles and positions. Another great irony was that although king Charles's third wife was being crowned now, Blanche who was The only woman that he really did love, had recently died in a convent after many years of being imprisoned for her adultery. Decision to make Isabella return to England after a discussion. Mahaut vs Robert. Robert after failing then warns Isabella and Roger to escape and they do so to England with an army at their backs on a long and stormy journey on boat. Before their departure, Edward the younger, the young boy, falls in love with Philippa, a granddaughter of Charles of Valois. As they all arrive, Roger Mortimer has his first quarrel with the Queen that night for jealousy reasons. Although they did not sleep in the same bed anymore, he continued in her counsel. Despite the king trying to gather strength against the invading army, Isabella took the castle of the Dispensers(?) With ease. The king took flight and the country was at the mercy of the Queen. Hugh dispenser the elder was then judged, dragged through the streets and beheaded as good body was hung in the streets. Edward the second was later found hidden in a monastery. There was quite a dramatic homosexual scene when Hugh the younger was separated from the king. Hugh was then taken to Paris where he would have a special execution. Queen Isabella would watch her revenge from the front row as the red hooded executioners snipped off Hugh's penis and balls, then his heart and entails and cut off his head. Edward, locked up in a castle was later on forced or persuaded to hand over the kingdom to his son for the country did not want him anymore. He rushed having them vote for Roger Mortimer of he did not consent to his son taking over. The books takes a turn for less personal affairs and a more policial approach which can be more boring. Although there are wars and battles take about, I don't have any connection or reaction to then for they have no build up or real threat. Scotland and England then go to war with no conclusive winner. After this there was some confusion on what would be done with the imprisoned Edward. He tried to escape once and their we rumours of rescuing him so Mortimer finally confronted the Queen to order for his killing. A long argument broke out between the two for the Queen despite having been mistreated over the years by him, did not wish somehow to have the father of her children dead like her other enemies. She did infact love him at one point and raising this jealous quarrel just fuelled the fire. Mortimer has at this point become a fairly unpleasantly jealous man with new found power and he storms out as Isabella chased him to apologize. I thought this was a little out of character and an unexpected turn in her personality. She accepts and Mortimer calls for Bishop orleton to send a message to his jailers who had him humiliated and starved regularly. They end up committing such an absurdly barbaric medieval crime in order not to leave any evidence behind on the body of the king. A chilling last chapter as they deceive him at first to only hold him down and from what I understood from this obscure assassination, they opened his legs, shoved a wooden horn up his ass, and through the horn a red hot iron to scourge the king body from the inside. Ending the book with a horrendous bang.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lisa P

    Utterly RIVETING! Kind of sad I only have two books left in the series!! Stephen P, thank you SO much for recommending this series to me!!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This one wasn't as good. The stuff about the English felt like an overlong detour from the Valois/Artois stuff, though by the end you do feel somewhat sympathetic for both Isabella and Edward II. The early cannon siege warfare and the English getting their asses kicked by Scottish guerrillas was pretty cool. RIP Charles, Count of Valois, didn't think I would feel sorry for the bicch. It's getting real: (view spoiler)[ Now that a state of siege had been declared in accordance with the rules, each This one wasn't as good. The stuff about the English felt like an overlong detour from the Valois/Artois stuff, though by the end you do feel somewhat sympathetic for both Isabella and Edward II. The early cannon siege warfare and the English getting their asses kicked by Scottish guerrillas was pretty cool. RIP Charles, Count of Valois, didn't think I would feel sorry for the bicch. It's getting real: (view spoiler)[ Now that a state of siege had been declared in accordance with the rules, each side went to its tasks. Monseigneur of Valois put to work the thirty miners lent him by the Bishop of Metz. They were to tunnel underground galleries beneath the walls and place in them barrels of powder which would later be exploded. Engineer Hugues, who belonged to the Duke of Lorraine, guaranteed miraculous results from this operation. The walls would burst open like a flower in spring. But the besieged, becoming aware of the muffled sounds of tunnelling, put tanks of water on the ramparts. Whenever they saw the surface of the water ripple, they knew the French were digging a sap below. They dug saps from their side too, but at night, for the Lorraine miners worked by day. One morning, the two galleries met and an appalling butchery took place underground by the dim light of lanterns. The survivors emerged covered with sweat, black dust and blood, their eyes as wild with horror as if they had returned from Hell. But now the firing platforms were ready and Monseigneur of Valois decided to use the bombards. They were huge tubes of thick bronze bound with iron hoops, mounted on wooden wheelless carriages. Ten horses were needed to move each one of these monsters, and twenty men to load, aim and fire it. Each was surrounded with a sort of box-like structure of heavy beams to protect the gunners should the bombard explode. These engines, which came from Pisa, had been delivered first to the Seneschal of Languedoc, who had sent them on to Castelsarrasin and Agen. The Italian crews called them bombarda because of the noise they made. All the great lords and the commanders of banners were assembled to see the bombards work. The Constable Gaucher shrugged his shoulders and said with a growl that he did not believe in the destructive effects of these engines. Why place your trust in such new-fangled things, when you could use good mangonels, trebuchets and perriers, which had proved their worth over the centuries? What need had he, Châtillon, of the founders of Lombardy to reduce the towns he had taken? Wars were won by valour and the strength of men’s arms, not by having recourse to the powders of alchemists which stank rather too much of the Devil’s sulphur. Beside each bombard the gunners lit a brazier and set an iron rod to become red-hot. Then, having loaded the bombard by the muzzle, introducing the powder with huge spoons of beaten iron, followed by a wad of tow and then a huge stone ball weighing approximately a hundred pounds, they placed a little powder on the top of the breech in a groove which communicated with the charge inside by a touch-hole. The spectators were asked to withdraw to a distance of fifty paces. The gunners lay down with their hands over their ears; only one remained standing by each bombard to set fire to the powder with the long iron rod which had been heated in the brazier. As soon as they had done so, they threw themselves to the ground and lay flat against the beams built round the carriages. Red flames gushed forth and the ground shook. The noise rolled down the valley of the Garonne and was heard from Marmande to Langon. The whole air about the bombards turned black with smoke. The back ends of them had sunk into the light soil with the recoil. The Constable was coughing, spitting and swearing. When the dust had dissipated a little, it was discovered that one of the balls had fallen among the French; it was a wonder no one had been killed. Nevertheless, it could be seen that a roof in the town had been holed. ‘A great deal of noise for very little damage,’ said the Constable. ‘With the old ballisters with weights and slings, all the balls would have reached their target without one’s being asphyxiated into the bargain.’ In the meantime, within La Réole, no one could at first understand why a great cascade of tiles should suddenly have fallen into the street from the roof of Master Delpuch, the notary. Nor could the people make out where the thunderclap that reached their ears a moment later came from, since there was not a cloud in the sky. But then Master Delpuch came rushing out of his house, shouting that a huge stone ball had fallen into his kitchen. Then the population ran to the ramparts only to discover that there were none of those great engines which were the normal equipment for sieges in the French camp. At the second salvo, which was less well aimed, the balls starred the walls, and the defenders were forced to the conclusion that the noise and the projectiles came from the long tubes lying on the hillside with a cloud of smoke hanging over them. They were seized with panic, and the women rushed to the churches to pray against these inventions of the Devil. The first cannon-shot in a Western war had been fired.20 On the morning of September 22 the Earl of Kent was asked to receive Messires Ramon de Labison, Jean de Miral, Imbert Esclau, the brothers Doat and Barsan de Pins, the Notary Hélie de Malenat and all six jurats of La Réole together with several burgesses who were accompanying them. The jurats presented to the Lieutenant of the King of England a long list of grievances, and in a tone that was far from being one of submission and respect. The town was without food, water or roofs. The bottoms of the cisterns were showing, the floors of the granaries were being swept, and the population could no longer stand the hail of balls which had fallen on it every quarter of an hour for more than three weeks now. People had been killed in their beds and children crushed in the streets. The hospital was full to overflowing with sick and wounded. The dead were lying in heaps in the crypts of the churches. The steeple of the church of Saint Peter had been hit and the bells had fallen with a sound like the last trump, which was clear proof that God was not supporting the English cause. Moreover, the time for the grape-harvest had come, at least in the vineyards the French had not ravaged, and the grapes could not be left to rot on the vines. The population, encouraged by the landowners and merchants, was ready to rise in revolt and fight the soldiers of the Seneschal, if necessary, to force the surrender of the town. While the jurats were talking, a ball whistled through the air and they heard the sound of a roof caving in. The Earl of Kent’s greyhound began howling. Its master silenced it with weary irritation. Edmund of Kent had known for several days past that he would have to surrender. He had continued his obstinate resistance for no valid reason. His few troops were exhausted by the siege and in no condition to repulse an assault. To attempt another sortie against an adversary who was now solidly entrenched would have been mere folly. And now the townspeople of La Réole were threatening rebellion. (hide spoiler)]

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miriam Stern

    Unfortunately, this book falls into the "I didn't like it" category. Although, very well written and related to English History (which is ALWAYS fascinating), I didn't like Maurice Druon's narration for this particular volume. Isabella of France is meant to be a legendary figure, a strong woman, sometimes accused of being downright manipulative. Hence her nickname, the She-Wolf. With Druon's novel she is more the "She-Pup". In the book, she is a lovesick puppy, obsessed with Roger Mortimer, with Unfortunately, this book falls into the "I didn't like it" category. Although, very well written and related to English History (which is ALWAYS fascinating), I didn't like Maurice Druon's narration for this particular volume. Isabella of France is meant to be a legendary figure, a strong woman, sometimes accused of being downright manipulative. Hence her nickname, the She-Wolf. With Druon's novel she is more the "She-Pup". In the book, she is a lovesick puppy, obsessed with Roger Mortimer, with no ideas or strength of her own. I mean, parts of her dialogue are literally "Don't leave me alone, sweet Mortimer!" because she's scared of the repercussions of her decisions. No. This does not sound like the same Isabella that landed in Harwich with an army to retake England from the nefarious Edward II. Also... TOO much gore and detail and imagination. To say that he was hanged and dismembered is enough. I need not the excruciating details of how the knife was taken to his body. That and how Edward II was murdered with a hot-poker and and ox-horn. No. You don't want to know. I didn't want to know either. This was SUPPOSED to be my favorite one! It was about England, for crying out loud! Ugh! I think the one star is also influenced by my disappointment.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    It's really a 5 in enjoyment, but I try to reserve 5 for exceptionally good writing. It's really a 5 in enjoyment, but I try to reserve 5 for exceptionally good writing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    What a terribly sad book.

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