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Dans ce septième et dernier volume des Rois maudits, c'est le règne de Jean II qui est retracé. L'Histoire a surnommé ce roi Jean le Bon, mais ce monarque fut, en fait, aussi vaniteux et cruel qu'indécis et incapable. La France, est, à l'époque, en crise : les clans et les factions se disputent le pays, l'Angleterre revendique le royaume, les impôts sont écrasants, la pest Dans ce septième et dernier volume des Rois maudits, c'est le règne de Jean II qui est retracé. L'Histoire a surnommé ce roi Jean le Bon, mais ce monarque fut, en fait, aussi vaniteux et cruel qu'indécis et incapable. La France, est, à l'époque, en crise : les clans et les factions se disputent le pays, l'Angleterre revendique le royaume, les impôts sont écrasants, la peste fait des ravages et le roi accumule les erreurs. On suit, à travers le récit d'un haut personnage de l'époque, l'évolution du règne. Une épopée malheureuse et sanglante qui va mener le roi au désastre de la bataille de Poitiers où il sera fait prisonnier des Anglais.


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Dans ce septième et dernier volume des Rois maudits, c'est le règne de Jean II qui est retracé. L'Histoire a surnommé ce roi Jean le Bon, mais ce monarque fut, en fait, aussi vaniteux et cruel qu'indécis et incapable. La France, est, à l'époque, en crise : les clans et les factions se disputent le pays, l'Angleterre revendique le royaume, les impôts sont écrasants, la pest Dans ce septième et dernier volume des Rois maudits, c'est le règne de Jean II qui est retracé. L'Histoire a surnommé ce roi Jean le Bon, mais ce monarque fut, en fait, aussi vaniteux et cruel qu'indécis et incapable. La France, est, à l'époque, en crise : les clans et les factions se disputent le pays, l'Angleterre revendique le royaume, les impôts sont écrasants, la peste fait des ravages et le roi accumule les erreurs. On suit, à travers le récit d'un haut personnage de l'époque, l'évolution du règne. Une épopée malheureuse et sanglante qui va mener le roi au désastre de la bataille de Poitiers où il sera fait prisonnier des Anglais.

30 review for Quand un roi perd la France

  1. 5 out of 5

    Guille Puerto

    In the last of the series, the author changes his omiscient narrator to the voice of a full-of-himself church official, remembering in conversation with different silent companions in a very long carriage journey the events of the past year in France and the start of the 100 year war. It feels lazy and unimaginative, the style sticks to a very specific point of view and lets the reader guess at missinterpretations and prejudices from the unreliable narrator, but not in a credible fashion. Instead In the last of the series, the author changes his omiscient narrator to the voice of a full-of-himself church official, remembering in conversation with different silent companions in a very long carriage journey the events of the past year in France and the start of the 100 year war. It feels lazy and unimaginative, the style sticks to a very specific point of view and lets the reader guess at missinterpretations and prejudices from the unreliable narrator, but not in a credible fashion. Instead of being awestruck by the actions and decisions of King John the Good and The Black Prince, one gets tired of the pompous old man narrating them,interrupting the story every three pages so nobody forgets who is telling it. Druon gives the Papal Nounce his voice and his bias as a french writer, and that makes it passable, but the 400 page monologue gets boring really quick.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marquise

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Après la malédiction des trépas rapides, la malédiction de la médiocrité. “After the curse of the sudden deaths, the curse of mediocrity.” This observation sums up the book’s plotline, told by the narrator, the Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, a Frenchman with sharp wits, a sharper tongue and a temperament that’d have made him more comfortable in the military orders than as Papal legate in charge of witnessing—and trying unsuccessfully to prevent—the disintegration of the kingdom he loves, cour Après la malédiction des trépas rapides, la malédiction de la médiocrité. “After the curse of the sudden deaths, the curse of mediocrity.” This observation sums up the book’s plotline, told by the narrator, the Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, a Frenchman with sharp wits, a sharper tongue and a temperament that’d have made him more comfortable in the military orders than as Papal legate in charge of witnessing—and trying unsuccessfully to prevent—the disintegration of the kingdom he loves, courtesy of the latest of the long line of rois maudits to come into power since the passing away of ruthless yet efficient King Philip the Fair. It’s in the last days of the rule of the latter’s Valois grand-nephew, Jean II, that the narrative starts, with the elderly but still lucid Cardinal en route to fulfilling his latest mission on behalf of the Church, and in-between cursing the atrocious country roads and the ailments of age, he recounts to his secretary and nephew the events of the past years since the reign of Philippe VI of Valois, near the time of the defeat at Crécy, when the now widowed king is refused by the courts the funds to counter this humiliation by striking back at the English. The Cardinal mostly wanders in circles offering his musings on politics, ruling, and expounds on the history and state of affairs in France, England, and gives more details than necessary about the ecclesiastical affairs in Rome and Avignon, which can tire the reader, as it reads like historical infodump and is uninteresting. And, because he’s not a witness, the accounts he gives are second-hand and very tedious, peppered with “I wasn’t there but I’m told that…” which made me long for the third person omniscient POV used in the past six books. It’s also easy for the reader to be taken out of the mood and kicked out of submersion by the abrupt changes of tone when the Cardinal interrupts his tale with addresses to his secretary and nephew, or pauses to describe something that catches his eye on the road. That is the worst aspect of the book, and makes one wonder why Monsieur Druon would decide to experiment with such a different and, to me, distressingly different style that doesn’t work for this series. This is somewhat alleviated by the tidbits of court gossip that the ecclesiastic includes to make it more amenable, scandalous enough to be entertaining but never verging on the salacious. He tells about the last six months of Philippe VI, when the monarch scandalises the Court and the whole of Christendom by taking for himself the betrothed meant for his son and heir, little Blanche of Navarre, nubile and very beautiful, who excites in him such passions that he goes to hilarious extents to improve his manly potency, killing himself out of exhaustion in half a year, leaving her a lusty widow and his Dauphin an embittered man who convinces himself that he loves the woman, but never takes her. Because Jean II de Valois can only love men… and reenacts the unfortunate attachment of Edward II to Gaveston and Despenser told in a previous book. And, as with his English counterpart, this favourite will bring upon the royal head the wrath of the powerful barons when an honour too many is bestowed on him. There’s no She-Wolf of France to light the fires of rebellion, but the grandson of the woman whose right of inheritance to the throne was overstepped: the king of Navarre and Count of Evreux, Charles the Bad. By now, the Cardinal is more involved in the unfolding events, being present at some and an active participant in others, so his narration has more of the first-hand eyewitness feel, though the second-hand information never disappears. The slowness of the beginning is compensated by chapters dealing with court intrigue, royal blunders, baronial squabbles, politicking, poverty and war, to which we’d grown used in this series. And not only in France, for the Cardinal is well-acquainted with the English, having been a legate there as well, with whose king Edward III he used to clash because one wanted a “French France” and the other an “English France” as well as over Church involvement in earthly matters. Yet, despite these disagreements, the Cardinal feels a grudging respect for the English ruler and his son, lamenting that the “true Capetian” had to be born on the wrong side of the Channel whereas poor France has to suffer this king that’s as different from Philip the Fair as… as… as a tomato shrub from a majestic oak. The tomato shrub manages to hop from one mistake to the next in all matters. He first names Charles de la Cerda—“Monseigneur d’Espagne”—to the post of Condestable of France without any other qualifications than being his favourite, and he also gives him rich counties. The problem is, he gave the Spaniard the lands that had been of Jeanne of Navarre, mother to Charles the Bad. Conceivably enraged, the offended Navarrese king arranges to ambush de la Cerda at an inn of a small town, where he, his brother Philippe d’Evreux and a small party stab the royal favourite to death. Far from serving as a wake-up call to Jean II to pay attention to his crumbling realm, this leaves him catatonic and wandering like a lost soul through the palace corridors, crying, which earns him the scorn of the Dauphin Charles. The murderers flee to England, where they ally themselves with Edward III, who forces the French to accept a damning treaty and be reconciled with Charles of Navarre, ceding him half of Normandy. This loses Jean the last shred of respect from his subjects, who grumble that “they killed his Condestable, he gave away half of Normandy. If they kill his brother or son, he’ll give away all of France.” The dynastic rift continues despite the apparent “reconciliation” and the marriage of Charles to Jean’s still nubile daughter; soon the king learns through the feeble-willed and sycophantic Jean d’Artois—son of my much-mourned Robert—that Navarre and a group of barons are plotting to overthrow and kill him, with overseas backing, and decides to storm a banquet in Rouen held by the Dauphin, where he arrests The Bad and his cronies, and has them beheaded in a lamentable show of executioner incompetence. Charles is saved from this fate by the pleading of the Dauphin and the higher-ranking court officials, the marshals of France, who argue that his death won’t deter the Navarrese rebels from continuing their hell-raising, as they’d be led by Philippe d’Evreux in his place, and also there are the brothers’ allies, the invading English troops of the Duke of Lancaster, to deal with. So Jean II consoles himself with subjecting Charles to a devious psychological torture designed to break his spirit and exact a petty vengeance for the murder of de la Cerda, at the castle where his grandmother was strangled by instigation of Jean’s grandfather. After the personal and political faux pas, the military ones follow. Jean II knows about warfare even less than about statesmanship, and it’s this ignorance what will ultimately doom him. He makes poor choices by ravaging of the countryside, his pursuit of rebels and English, allows Lancaster to slip through his fingers by an astoundingly childish trick, has one enormous siege tower built only for it to be burnt on the first shock... And refuses the Church’s mediation before the Black Prince on the eve of the Battle of Poitiers, when at first it looks like there’ll be an agreement, he makes one unreasonable demand to which the English won’t agree: the surrender of the prince heir and a hundred noblemen. The exhausted Cardinal throws his hands up in despair and tells them all to go to hell with his blessing, not aware yet of how disastrous the fight will be for his king, his country and his only family. On the day of the battle, Jean II has 25,000 men, double than the Prince of Wales, and unable to forget his fear of repeating Crécy, makes an ironic choice of tactics: he forces the knights to dismount, cut their cavalry lances short and fight as infantry against the vastly outnumbered Welsh archers and English knights. Unfortunately for him, Edward of Woodstock decides on the opposite tactics of Crécy: he sends his knights to charge on horseback against the Frenchmen. Amidst the chaos and slaughter of the French nobility, the Dauphin is forced to flee with his brothers, his uncle, and leaves his father to fight alone. Alone? Not really, his 14-year-old youngest son Philippe stays to fight side by side with Jean II till the end, being more of a nuisance than a help, though courageous for his age and inexperience. Courage is what also redeems the French king, who refuses to flee and fights like someone possessed whilst outnumbered by the English round him, and is made a prisoner. And there the tale ends, and the curtain falls as Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord laments the defeat and offers some final thoughts on the fate of realms with kings like this one. If this review reads like I’m telling you the whole plot, it’s because the plot follows a line as straightforward as if it were for the history books. There’s the same dryness, the same fact-telling, and a lack of the “fictionalisation” element that makes a HF novel enjoyable. There’s no fictional characters that provide a window into certain scenarios like the Tolomei bankers, no Robert d’Artois to shake the plot up—Charles of Navarre had that potential and could have been if not for the POV choice—no great villains like Mahaut or Charles de Valois for you to love to hate. There’s only the Cardinal telling you about a buncha fellows whose most definable quality is to be mediocre and on whom you can’t waste your emotions because they’re just too inane. Not only that: the style is different, with the point of view in first person that is so limiting and restricts the narrative potentialities by filtering events through the eyes of a single narrator. It wasn’t a good literary decision; it breaks the uniformity and unity of the saga, and it comes at a too late stage for experimentations, serving mostly to make it look like a wholly different and standalone novel. The Accursed Kings had a natural ending in “The Lys and the Lion,” and this book is just like an epilogue that got out of hand. I’ve often wondered why Maurice Druon wrote something that does such a disservice to his wonderful series, never finding one that could satisfy me. Until I had an idea earlier today that it could be symmetry. George R. R. Martin, a big fan of Druon, uses the technique of literary symmetry for the purposes of closing a cycle, introducing dramatic irony, paradox, and coming full circle… With this thought, my impression of “When a King Loses France” improved from disappointed grumbling to something like comprehension. The Accursed Kings may have ended in the 6th book, but the circle was still open and demanded closure. It had been Philip the Fair, the king who had practically made France by expanding it and empowering it, who’d brought about the curse upon his bloodline, so it had to be Jean II, who had to fulfil the curse through his predecessors’ and his own incompetence. One king made France, the other had to lose France. One king started the curse, the other had to complete it. Symmetry. Seen through that lens, the title is appropriate, the storyline makes sense, and the ending, though still abrupt, also makes sense. Nevertheless, this still feels more like a rescindable complement than a continuation of the series. It wasn't to my liking, though it could be for others.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Solymar

    The most boring of the 7 books...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    I can see why they didn't initially bother to translate this book. The King Without a Kingdom is told from a first person point of view, a style that doesn't follow the format of the other 6 books, which I enjoyed. As a result I struggled to get into the monotonous, droning style of the narrator, Cardinal Périgord, a cardinal. The content could have and should have been interesting, but the delivery was definitely lacking. I can see why they didn't initially bother to translate this book. The King Without a Kingdom is told from a first person point of view, a style that doesn't follow the format of the other 6 books, which I enjoyed. As a result I struggled to get into the monotonous, droning style of the narrator, Cardinal Périgord, a cardinal. The content could have and should have been interesting, but the delivery was definitely lacking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Irena Pasvinter

    Quand Maurice Druon perd ses lecteurs... I liked all the previous books in the series, especially the book six. This last book though... Clearly Maurice Druon wanted to try a new narration form, but why he adapted the worst form possible is above my understanding. The story of king Jean II's disastrous ruling is told by a cardinal, a papal legate, during his long journey across France. But it's not a typical first person narration. Rather, it's the cardinal's dialogue with his travel companions w Quand Maurice Druon perd ses lecteurs... I liked all the previous books in the series, especially the book six. This last book though... Clearly Maurice Druon wanted to try a new narration form, but why he adapted the worst form possible is above my understanding. The story of king Jean II's disastrous ruling is told by a cardinal, a papal legate, during his long journey across France. But it's not a typical first person narration. Rather, it's the cardinal's dialogue with his travel companions where you get to hear only his part of the conversation. Even though the historical events he tells about are interesting, this endless droning monologue format makes the story just as exciting for the reader as the slow and boring voyage must have been entertaining for the cardinal.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Druon attempts to finish off (again) his 'The Accursed Kings' series with a novel that falls as flat as Jean II's attempt to flex his muscle across Western Europe. Before delving into the review, I must admit that without a proper English translation of the text, yet wanting to read the final act in this highly entertaining series, I was forced to push the text through an online translation page, leaving me with disjointed and somewhat literal translation of the text. It made for a sometimes hor Druon attempts to finish off (again) his 'The Accursed Kings' series with a novel that falls as flat as Jean II's attempt to flex his muscle across Western Europe. Before delving into the review, I must admit that without a proper English translation of the text, yet wanting to read the final act in this highly entertaining series, I was forced to push the text through an online translation page, leaving me with disjointed and somewhat literal translation of the text. It made for a sometimes horrific read, while I will discuss a little later on. Alas, the premise of this, the seventh book was to ressurect the sequence of events surrounding Jean II's desire to challenge Edward III and England's might in Western Europe. Told in a letter-type format, the novel follows some of France's key events that led to Jean II pushing his military might up against England and its allied kingdoms. Told from the perspective of Cardinal Périgord and eventually, as I could surmise, one or two of the actual popes, the novel shows the mounting intoxication that Jean II has and how the Church sought not only to mediate, but push itself from out of the control of France, moving away from Avignon and back to Rome. While the entire series has hinted at this drunken power of French kings, it is in this novel that the ultimate price is paid and Jean II leads his men into the trap that ultimately pushes them to the brink and leaves England as the European superpower, at least in its western kingdoms. So divorced from the rest of the series, readers need not invest time or energy (even if they read French, Spanish, or Russian; the three languages I have seen the text published in over the years). Druon's lament at the end of The Lily and the Lion should have been foreboding enough not to touch this book, but my desire to open my eyes and mind to the FULL collection got the better of me. How and why the novel's publication never made it into English should have been a sign, along with the lengthy time between the other six novels in the series and this piece of silliness. Druon should have woven this into a fully functional novel, using the recipe of success he so greatly presented before, but had to turn the tables on readers and historical fiction writing alike, producing this drivel simply to add another feather to his well-worn cap. Nothing can convince me that this novel stands proudly next to its others, as this was a true waste and nothing inspirational came from its pages. True, some will say that I used an amateur translation mechanism, but I could pick up enough of the gist to see how horrible an attempt to pair this novel up with the others ended up being. Shameful, in fact. I cannot leave this series without commenting on the seven (six, preferably) novels as a series. Druon was masterful as he wove the characters together and laid many a snare for his readers to find themselves in. While the novels are not monumental in length, their numerous characters over a time period make attentiveness truly important and the details all the more rewarding. Readers with a keen sense of history will surely enjoy how truth and fiction mate nicely on the page, leaving the historical record in tact, but still filling in some gaps with drama more interesting than might have been spun at the time. The series has all the keys to a great dramatic series with the great Jean I mystery left unresolved, at least within the confines of the novel's time period. The premise was first rate and the characters were superb. Now then, if only one could cleve that seventh novel from an otherwise stellar series. For shame, M. Druon, in this seventh novel. You have done little to further the cause of the novel or the series with this subpar piece of work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Geoff Boxell

    This is the 7th in the series The Accursed Kings, and is only now available in English. It is written in an entirely different style to its predecessors.This time you are a fly in Cardinal Perigord's palanquin, or in the air above him as he rides or walks talking to his nephews or servants as he travels to Metz after the Battle of Poiters. It is fascinating as it is not straight dialogue but chatty, and often catty, gossip, observation and advice with constant asides, mainly to staff. This book i This is the 7th in the series The Accursed Kings, and is only now available in English. It is written in an entirely different style to its predecessors.This time you are a fly in Cardinal Perigord's palanquin, or in the air above him as he rides or walks talking to his nephews or servants as he travels to Metz after the Battle of Poiters. It is fascinating as it is not straight dialogue but chatty, and often catty, gossip, observation and advice with constant asides, mainly to staff. This book is highly entertaining, even if you are familiar with the history that it is from. Highly recommended

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark Ellis

    The end of this fantastic series of historical novels about the kings and rulers of 14th century France. This final novel is told through the eyes of a French Cardinal. Although I have given it 5 stars it is the weakest of the series by virtue of the narrator distancing the reader a little from the action, whereas in all the other books the reader is in the middle of the action. The other books really deserve 6 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable and gripping nevertheless. Thus ends probably the greates The end of this fantastic series of historical novels about the kings and rulers of 14th century France. This final novel is told through the eyes of a French Cardinal. Although I have given it 5 stars it is the weakest of the series by virtue of the narrator distancing the reader a little from the action, whereas in all the other books the reader is in the middle of the action. The other books really deserve 6 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable and gripping nevertheless. Thus ends probably the greatest historical fiction series I have ever read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Boudewijn

    The seventh and last book in the Accursed Kings series leaves me a little bit disappointed. Written 7 years after the last book, this is feels like an outsider. The protagonist, Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, recounts the troubled reign of Philippe's son, Jean II "The Good", who continues the reversal of fortune for France set in motion by his father. The seventh and last book in the Accursed Kings series leaves me a little bit disappointed. Written 7 years after the last book, this is feels like an outsider. The protagonist, Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, recounts the troubled reign of Philippe's son, Jean II "The Good", who continues the reversal of fortune for France set in motion by his father.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christina Rothfusz

    I've put off reading this final book in the series for two reasons. First I was just loath to finish it as I so enjoyed the first 6. Second, so many of the reviews were negative and I did not want to find out if it was that bad. I found the narrator a bit pompous but not a bad story teller so did not mind it quite so much, still it did not bring the story to live for me as the previous books did. Again, it is shocking to see the grandeur of France deteriorate so fast as the curse of the Templar Gr I've put off reading this final book in the series for two reasons. First I was just loath to finish it as I so enjoyed the first 6. Second, so many of the reviews were negative and I did not want to find out if it was that bad. I found the narrator a bit pompous but not a bad story teller so did not mind it quite so much, still it did not bring the story to live for me as the previous books did. Again, it is shocking to see the grandeur of France deteriorate so fast as the curse of the Templar Grand Master comes to fulfillment. In fact it is unbelievable that one country could be cursed with so many bad Kings in such a short time. I had to stop from time to time to remind myself that this is based on true events! Still, I loved the series!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Raimondo Lagioia

    The action begins in the year 1356, six years into the ill-starred reign of King John II of France. He's currently held hostage by the English after the disastrous Battle of Poitiers, or Maupertuis as it was called in the book. In a mere forty years, from being the richest, most populous, and most powerful kingdom in Christendom, France has fallen into such abject misery that it's now in danger of being totally dismembered by recalcitrant nobles and traitorous kings. Into the fray enters the Card The action begins in the year 1356, six years into the ill-starred reign of King John II of France. He's currently held hostage by the English after the disastrous Battle of Poitiers, or Maupertuis as it was called in the book. In a mere forty years, from being the richest, most populous, and most powerful kingdom in Christendom, France has fallen into such abject misery that it's now in danger of being totally dismembered by recalcitrant nobles and traitorous kings. Into the fray enters the Cardinal Hélie of Perigueux, who attempts to staunch the deluge of afflictions that continue to plague his country by establishing a truce that, while humiliating, at least spares it from ultimate ruin. From the pontifical seat in Avignon, he is on his way to Metz as a papal legate to petition the Holy Roman Emperor on its behalf. This is a mission of enormous import, and though he sincerely has France's interests at heart, it's mainly the prerogatives of the Church that he's protecting. The Emperor recently ousted all papal influence from German domains, while King Edward III secretly harbors designs to do away with the temporal power of the Pope once he establishes English hegemony over Europe. With France remaining as one of the few fervently Catholic continental powers, she must be saved from catastrophe. It is while on this journey that the cardinal relates the unfortunate confluence of events leading to the capture of the French king to his nephew, Archambaud. As such, the author employed a first-person point of view using our conscientious prelate as his voice. This admittedly seemed like a strange choice at first. One wishes that it were otherwise, if only to relive the feel of the first six books again. But as the action gains steam and the tragedies get more riveting, one begins to ignore the inessential and focus on the story itself. I like the way he educates his nephew, along with us readers as his audience, in matters of state. He likes to pepper his discourse on the political nuances of various events with pragmatic aphorisms such as these: Pity is not what a king should inspire; it is better that one believes him impervious to pain. It is natural that a man should increase his own fortune when in high office, otherwise nobody would take on the burden or the risk. But one should be careful not to overstep the limits of dishonesty and look after one’s own affairs at the expense of public interest. And above all, one must be capable. For certain people it would seem that defeat was their main preoccupation, they have a secret craving for it, and will not rest until they have found it. Defeat pleases the depths of their souls, the spleen of failure is their favourite beverage, as the mead of victory is to others; they long for subordination, and nothing suits them better than to contemplate themselves in a state of imposed submission. As His Eminence tries diverse maneuvers to save the kingdom from disaster and despoliation, one can't help but wish him the best in raising from its sickbed a nation that has so fallen on desperate times. I'm just surprised at how his sovereign can still retain the loyalty of his men, given how helplessly, hopelessly muddled he is when it comes to military matters. He has an almost preternatural gift of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. It's par for the course for a great writer to induce his readers to sympathize with his subject, and one can only readily rally behind beleaguered France in this book. However, the many misfired stratagems and misplaced enmities of the king makes one feel very frustrated, and I won't be surprised if the reader sighs in resignation before the novel ends. It's darned difficult to continue rooting for a loser for hundreds of pages, which was just what our admirable cardinal did. Since the entire book is pretty much a narrative of events that already transpired, the reader feels nothing but great unease the entire time, much as the malignant aspect of John the Good's stars gave the cardinal the gravest forebodings. The entire journey from its strained beginnings to the cataclysmic end was just so much exquisite torture, though not in a bad way. I must admit that this book, released almost two decades after the publication of the preceding volume, does not seem that essential to the series. It's no wonder that it was only translated into English almost forty years after it was issued in the original French. It's still thoroughly entertaining though, and if only to finish the magnificent Les Rois Maudits, I have no regrets reading it. 7/10; 3 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Maria Cloos

    Disappointing The rest of the series is magnificent. It felt like the author was coerced into writing this book and so gave it as little effort as possible. It’s written from the point-of-view of a cardinal, who’s traveling to Metz and is talking to his nephew, and who constantly interrupts himself to speak with others or go on a tangent. He can’t make up his mind what verb tense to use, making the reading even more unpleasant. And the story about the characters developed throughout the series ar Disappointing The rest of the series is magnificent. It felt like the author was coerced into writing this book and so gave it as little effort as possible. It’s written from the point-of-view of a cardinal, who’s traveling to Metz and is talking to his nephew, and who constantly interrupts himself to speak with others or go on a tangent. He can’t make up his mind what verb tense to use, making the reading even more unpleasant. And the story about the characters developed throughout the series are gone, and the new characters are flat and barely interesting. I felt compelled to read it as it concluded the series, but it wasn’t the enjoyable experience I had with the other books.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Wasn't a big fan in the shift in perspective on this last book. Though I admit it's great for the two things Druon is good at (exposition and didactic asides, and I mean that in a good way, it's what I makes these books great) but it's just too abrupt a change. And all the Crecy stuff is a bit too familiar. But the ending ruled and this series was top notch. Highly recommend it. Wasn't a big fan in the shift in perspective on this last book. Though I admit it's great for the two things Druon is good at (exposition and didactic asides, and I mean that in a good way, it's what I makes these books great) but it's just too abrupt a change. And all the Crecy stuff is a bit too familiar. But the ending ruled and this series was top notch. Highly recommend it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Roozbeh

    The seventh instalment of the series is in some degrees a separate stories from the other sixes. A new set of characters, less characters development and in my opinion a weaker work. Though it is better than 2 stars, it is less than 3. I wish I had the choice of 2.5.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liya Ma

    3.8 stars. I prefer the others which were written with more dialogue and not a first person narrator like this one. This was more not France centric, focused too much on battles, not enough conspiracy for me.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Florin Pitea

    Nice ending for a nice series.

  17. 4 out of 5

    ᴿᵃˡᵘ

    I feel like I have to leave a review, since this book disappointed me entirely. The other six were amazing and I felt more connected with the characters than the ones in this last book. Maybe the change of narrative perspective was at fault.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Patrick St-Denis

    As was the case with many other speculative fiction readers, I reckon it's thanks to George R. R. Martin that I discovered the excellent The Accursed Kings by French author Maurice Druon. As the main inspiration for A Song of Ice and Fire, I was eager to find out more about this series. The first two volumes were very good, but the third installment failed to live up to the expectations generated by its predecessors. The Royal Succession was a return to form for the author and I was looking forw As was the case with many other speculative fiction readers, I reckon it's thanks to George R. R. Martin that I discovered the excellent The Accursed Kings by French author Maurice Druon. As the main inspiration for A Song of Ice and Fire, I was eager to find out more about this series. The first two volumes were very good, but the third installment failed to live up to the expectations generated by its predecessors. The Royal Succession was a return to form for the author and I was looking forward to see if the fifth book would offer the same satisfying reading experience. Ultimately, The She-Wolf didn't stand as well on its own as I thought it would. Druon continued to weave a vast number of threads in what is a great tapestry of men, women, and events that will shake the foundations of the kingdom of France and the rest of Europe. That hasn't changed. And yet, focusing more on the demise of King Edward II instead of the intrigues of the King of France's court, the fifth volume felt like some sort of interlude and was a bit discordant in the greater scheme of things. The following book, The Lily and the Lion, turned out to be more history textbook than novelization, and as such it was a disappointment. Still, with family rivalries, politicking, betrayals and back-stabbings, ASOIAF fans will find a lot to love about Maurice Druon's The Accursed Kings. And given the fact that these books were first published back in the 50s, they have definitely aged well and are as easy to read as any contemporary novels on the market today. I was curious to see how the author would close the show in the final volume. Alas, Druon elected to change narrative form and this more or less killed The King Without a Kingdom from the get-go. It is by far the weakest in the series so far. So much so that, like Glen Cook's recent Black Company novel, I suggest that readers simply skip it. It's a shame, but I now understand why it took so long for them to translate this final installment in English. Here's the blurb: Available for the first time in English, THE KING WITHOUT A KINGDOM is the seventh and final volume of The Accursed Kings series. The reign of the Capetian kings has ended and John II, ‘The Good’, takes the throne. Under the leadership of this vain, cruel, incompetent monarch The Hundred Years War escalates and England and France begin to tear each other apart. Warring factions plunder the land, famine threatens the people and the Black Death spreads far and wide. France is bleeding to death around the new king… The structure of these novels has always revolved around a number of disparate POVs which allow readers to witness events through the eyes of a variety of protagonists. This helped generate more emotional impact, as you saw the web of scandal and intrigue weaving itself throughout all the storylines. This was what made the series so memorable, no question. Sadly, Druon decided to forgo this tried and true recipe and he went for a completely different narrative form. One that is so divergent and off-putting that it makes you want to throw the book across the room just a few chapters in. Indeed, instead of going for an omiscient narrator, this time around the author opted for the first-person perspective of pompous Cardinal Talleyrand-Périgord, who recounts the catastrophic reign of John II and the escalation of the Hundred Years War. The narrative is little more than the vapid and pretentious recollections the cardinal shares with his newphew as his grand entourage travels toward Metz. Although the events elaborated upon are fascinating, the papal legate's monotonous monologues often make you want to open your veins in frustration. As always, I found the translation to be quite good. As was the case with the other installments, it is at times too literal, creating occasional odd turns of phrase. But other than that, there's absolutely nothing to complain about. Instead of relying on info-dumps, Druon once again elected to go for footnotes sending you to the back of the novel for more historical background and clarification. In the past, this usually maintained a fluid pace throughout. Unfortunately, The King Without a Kingdom failed to deliver on basically all fronts. To a certain extent, this seventh installment is a bit of a travesty, an inferior work that doesn't deserve to be part of The Accursed Kings. For more reviews, check out www.fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    The last book of the series brings a new and refreshing viewpoint. Cardinal Perigord's account of the reign of John II lays open not only the personalities of the Valois court but the Cardinal's own amusing idiosyncrasies as well. The reputation of John II "the Good" especially is flayed to the bone. The last book of the series brings a new and refreshing viewpoint. Cardinal Perigord's account of the reign of John II lays open not only the personalities of the Valois court but the Cardinal's own amusing idiosyncrasies as well. The reputation of John II "the Good" especially is flayed to the bone.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gonzalo

    I have read it is wise to leave unfinished a book or a movie you do not like, life is too short to drink bad wine and all that jazz. It is however an advice I find difficult to follow, what if it gets better towards the end? What if people ask me if I finished it? I thought about giving up several times, and I actually had half written a review when I was on page 227 (at the beginning of the fourth and last part of the book), convinced that if Druon had failed to engage me so far, it was not goi I have read it is wise to leave unfinished a book or a movie you do not like, life is too short to drink bad wine and all that jazz. It is however an advice I find difficult to follow, what if it gets better towards the end? What if people ask me if I finished it? I thought about giving up several times, and I actually had half written a review when I was on page 227 (at the beginning of the fourth and last part of the book), convinced that if Druon had failed to engage me so far, it was not going to change in the last hundred plus pages. I was wrong. Not terribly wrong. I still think it was a very risky move for him to advance the story 20 years into the future and change the voice. I like fantasy and family sagas, but that does not mean I have an excellent memory to keep track of characters. I am neither English nor French, so the Hundred Years War is not something I know a lot about. Which means that contrary to the rest of the saga, where there is a convenient list of characters, I had some troubles keeping track of some of the characters and events. More attentive readers might not have this problems though. The new narrator is the Cardinal of Périgord, who tells what has happened since “The Lily and the Lion” to one of his nephews on their way to Metz. I was fine with this for about 20 pages, when I started asking myself, when is the story going to catch up? Well, 200 pages later, when the Cardinal gets involved in the battle of Poitiers. Is it worth the wait? I am not sure. For me, it was a lot of reading uphill, and it was mostly sheer will that kept me reading for a good chunk of the book. However, the last hundred pages are pretty good. I got the same feeling of impending doom I found “The Guns of August” or “The Sleepwalkers”. You know it ends bad, for the French, but you want to keep reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Neil MacDonald

    I had expected that this, the final volume in Maurice Druon's panoramic tale of the Capet monarchy in France, would be like the others. But it isn't. It has the same outraged narration of the collosal egos and catastrophic failures of statecraft that led JRR Martin to describe the series as "the original Game of Thrones". Yet its style is so different that it might almost have been written by a different author. Druon choses to tell this concluding chapter as a sustained monologue by a Papal en I had expected that this, the final volume in Maurice Druon's panoramic tale of the Capet monarchy in France, would be like the others. But it isn't. It has the same outraged narration of the collosal egos and catastrophic failures of statecraft that led JRR Martin to describe the series as "the original Game of Thrones". Yet its style is so different that it might almost have been written by a different author. Druon choses to tell this concluding chapter as a sustained monologue by a Papal envoy. I never managed to get my head around this massive change of style, or to relate it to the rest of the series. I can't deny that he does it well. But it didn't satisfy the Pavolvian expectation from the previous books for dialogue, direct action and wry Gallic philosophical musings from the narrator

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mari-Liis

    Quite a dull final book to an otherwise gripping series of novels. Shifting to a completely new narration form, it recounts the events following the main series in one long monologue by a pompous church official. Worth reading for the final chapters which are charming, but definitely lacks the excitement of the rest of the series.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Definitely bad kings and bad leaders have existed all the time. History reveals this incredible truth. I enjoyed in general so well all the seven books. Great work by Maurice Druon.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    A great disappointment after 6 fabulous volumes. The narrator is an irritant, & the first person perspective is very limiting. Bah.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Keith Crawford

    The Capetian Kings are dead and John II “The Good”, who is anything but good in any sense of the word, is on the throne. As his arrogance, incompetence and vanity drive France from one catastrophic failure to another, the English take the ascendancy in the hundred years war and it seems that the church is the only barrier between the Kingdom of France and English rule. Well, here we are, the seventh and final book of the series, and because he can (it’s not like we’re going to stop reading now), The Capetian Kings are dead and John II “The Good”, who is anything but good in any sense of the word, is on the throne. As his arrogance, incompetence and vanity drive France from one catastrophic failure to another, the English take the ascendancy in the hundred years war and it seems that the church is the only barrier between the Kingdom of France and English rule. Well, here we are, the seventh and final book of the series, and because he can (it’s not like we’re going to stop reading now), and because he’s French (you’ll understand if you read much French literature), Druoun now decides to completely change the style of writing. You’ve got to love the French. The entirety of this book is written in speech, as if our protagonist – a Cardinal - was speaking to you on a long journey. Who “you” are isn’t entirely clear – in fact, I’m pretty sure at one point it changes – which creates this interesting tension of trust throughout: how much can you trust the cardinal who is speaking, how much does he trust you the listener? It is like this that you learn the end of the sorry history of the Capets and the even sorrier beginning of the Valois. Like the “problematique” of a French doctoral thesis, Druoun has laid out his point – Kings are a bit of a rubbish idea really, because even if they’re good they’ll just get killed or be horribly unlucky – and uses this book to summarise and conclude with a King so terrible you’ll be longing for the good old days of baby murderers and wife killers. Is the book good? Yes, it is, and a fascinating literary experiment. Is it annoying? A bit. After six books where Druoun has plunged is into the historical action like a good fantasy novel, now he decides to do something completely different. It is perhaps worth noting that this has a different translator than the previous six. If I’d read this book on its own, I would have loved it, but expectations had been built and now disappointed. To put it another way, if this book was the first to have been submitted to the publisher it would not have been published. But you’ve come this far, and this is both excellent writing and a clever way to complete the saga. If there was the slightest inkling of royalist in your soul, prepare to have it crushed.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    This the last of Druon's series The Accursed Kings, and I think the weakest. It was written some time after the others, and is different in that it is throughout narrated by the Cardinal of Perigord to his nephew as he travels around France in a palanquin as the Papal legate. So there are occasional asides such as "Bring up my horse, Brunet" or "It looks as if we will have rain before we get to Mortemart". But this device doesn't really work, I think, and serves to distance the action which lose This the last of Druon's series The Accursed Kings, and I think the weakest. It was written some time after the others, and is different in that it is throughout narrated by the Cardinal of Perigord to his nephew as he travels around France in a palanquin as the Papal legate. So there are occasional asides such as "Bring up my horse, Brunet" or "It looks as if we will have rain before we get to Mortemart". But this device doesn't really work, I think, and serves to distance the action which loses the immediacy of the other novels. Only at the end in the fine description of the Battle of Poitiers, in which the cardinal plays a direct part, do we get the exciting action of the earlier novels. And there is too much detail about the cardinal's rivals, or his self-satisfied preening, which waylay the story. But the overall achievement of the seven novels is great, giving a vivid picture of a period little-known on this side of the Channel, where we learn only of the three great victories of Agincourt, Crecy and Poitiers and the effectiveness of the English archers, without knowing much of what or whom they were fighting, let alone why. And it is a dramatic story, of intrigue and treachery, rivalries and weakness which Druon brings to life with telling details and well-drawn characters. So I have enjoyed reading the sequence (which has been well translated) and ignoring the rather cynical and misleading attempts of the publisher HarperCollins to latch on to the succcess of The Game of Thrones I would recommend the series to anyone who likes an authentic historical novel about an unusual period. It is important, I think, to read them in order; the chronology is essential.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    “The King Without a Kingdom” was written so long after the rest of the Accursed Kings series, and is of such a different style (narration from one character, rather than viewpoints from many) that it doesn’t just feel like an extended epilogue or coda to the series, but apart from it entirely. The namesake of the series came to a head in “The Lily and the Lion”. Druon himself said, at the end of that book, he couldn’t bring himself to write any more. What changed? I don’t know, but I know this b “The King Without a Kingdom” was written so long after the rest of the Accursed Kings series, and is of such a different style (narration from one character, rather than viewpoints from many) that it doesn’t just feel like an extended epilogue or coda to the series, but apart from it entirely. The namesake of the series came to a head in “The Lily and the Lion”. Druon himself said, at the end of that book, he couldn’t bring himself to write any more. What changed? I don’t know, but I know this book feels limp where the previous books felt exciting, didactic where the previous books felt empathetic, dry where the previous books felt heartfelt. The story all being told by one Cardinal’s long, long meandering speech makes the book feel like a lecture rather than an engaging story. It’s a good thing the Cardinal is an interesting character, because the novel is so overwhelmingly soaked in him that it would have had no chance at having any enjoyable segments at all if he was dull. Even as he is, there’s just too much of him. While the book follows on from the events of the previous books well enough, though it’s inherently adrift from them given the time different and lack of surviving characters, it ends up just feeling rudderless. It’s history told well enough, but for what purpose? The story’s been told. This is just information. What a disappointing afterthought to a great series. I give it two palanquins, and a treaty.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    So this was a little weird... This final volume in the 7 part series is told in a very different way. The reader is given this tale solely through the eyes of a Cardinal Perigord whom is traveling to France. The narration is almost completely from Perigord's point of view as he tells he nephew and traveling companion what has led up to the 100 years war. This in and of itself isn't strange...but the narration is completely different from the previous 6 novels that was in omni-3rd person. And as m So this was a little weird... This final volume in the 7 part series is told in a very different way. The reader is given this tale solely through the eyes of a Cardinal Perigord whom is traveling to France. The narration is almost completely from Perigord's point of view as he tells he nephew and traveling companion what has led up to the 100 years war. This in and of itself isn't strange...but the narration is completely different from the previous 6 novels that was in omni-3rd person. And as mentioned in my previous review on book 6, that story very much felt like the end of the series; most of the characters that we have been reading about are now gone...definitely the characters that we care the most about are gone. This was just a disconcerting shift in tone and plot. This seems like a stand alone book, though I can understand how a reader would not get as much out of this story if they did not have the background of the previous books in the series...but it felt more like maybe they just wanted to make sure that it sold and added it on to a very successful series. I don't know... I can't recommend that you skip this book, especially if you've spent time getting through the other 6 books. I'm not a monster. But I would throw it out there to approach this as a big epilogue; it's truly it's own story, but there are Easter Eggs for those that have started at the beginning.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    I feel a little bad giving this only 3 stars. I feel like I read it the wrong way -- I read it over a month and a half, whereas this book is really designed to be read over a weekend. The first 6 books in the series were awesome and told in a fairly straightforward narrative fashion; the final book (ie this one) was written in a much more creative style, in which the entire book is essentially 1 never-ending quotation from a character telling the story, usually to his nephew but occasionally to I feel a little bad giving this only 3 stars. I feel like I read it the wrong way -- I read it over a month and a half, whereas this book is really designed to be read over a weekend. The first 6 books in the series were awesome and told in a fairly straightforward narrative fashion; the final book (ie this one) was written in a much more creative style, in which the entire book is essentially 1 never-ending quotation from a character telling the story, usually to his nephew but occasionally to others. So the story is quite hard to follow, as he jumps around in his timeline, and there are blatant spoilers early in the book -- perhaps the author assumed his audience in France would already know the history, but Americans like me 50 years later surely don't. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had read it all in a few days; instead, I was constantly re-reading old chapters to remind myself who the different characters were, who was on which side, etc. There are a few great chapters towards the end, but then the actual ending was way too abrupt, especially after 7 books and with no further sequels. I at least would have liked an epilogue after investing so much in the story of 14th century France...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bossi

    I absolutely loved the series and despite the significantly lower rating of this book: felt obligated to take on the last of the run. It's tough, and with the ending of #6 you can tell Druon's heart just wasn't in it anymore. It feels like with the 17 years elapsed between #6 and #7, Druon felt obligated to his fans to revisit the series, and his style had changed significantly such that it's almost as if he were ghostwriting himself. The narrative structure is very different, and even at the end I absolutely loved the series and despite the significantly lower rating of this book: felt obligated to take on the last of the run. It's tough, and with the ending of #6 you can tell Druon's heart just wasn't in it anymore. It feels like with the 17 years elapsed between #6 and #7, Druon felt obligated to his fans to revisit the series, and his style had changed significantly such that it's almost as if he were ghostwriting himself. The narrative structure is very different, and even at the end I wasn't fully convinced why. It is in the form of a Cardinal acting as a first-person narrator, talking to his companion while traveling through France. Unfortunately, while the core of the story remains interesting: the narrative structure drags the book and can be very distracting. I will say that if you can make it to the halfway mark: by then you've gotten more used to the narrator, and the story itself becomes as engaging as the previous books.

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