Friday, May 3, 2013

Follow Friday - There Are Currently One Hundred and Seven Nobel Laureates in Literature

It's Friday again, and this means it's time for Follow Friday. There has been a slight change to the format, as now there are two Follow Friday hosts blogs and two Follow Friday Features Bloggers each week. To join the fun and make now book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow both of the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts (Parajunkee and Alison Can Read) and any one else you want to follow on the list.
  2. Follow the two Featured Bloggers of the week - Pretty Deadly Reviews and Boarding with Books.
  3. Put your Blog name and URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
  5. Follow, follow, follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don't just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don't say "Hi".
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the love . . . and the followers.
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!
  8. If you're new to the Follow Friday Hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog!
And now for the Follow Friday Question: Give us a sneak! What are you reading? Tell us about a fun or fail scene in your current read.

I am currently reading The Iron King, a historical fiction novel by Maurice Druon. The novel, written originally in French, is the first of a seven book series about the intrigues of the Capetian and Plantagenet dynasties that led to the Hundred Years War. The series has been cited by George R.R. Martin as one of the inspirations for his Song of Ice and Fire series, and the influence easy to see when one is reading The Iron King.

One of the interesting scenes takes place when Grand Marshall Jacques de Molay of the Templars is being executed. The fact that he and his fellow Templars would be executed was more or less a foregone conclusion in the book, since it is a well-documents event in history, and if things had turned out differently then all pretense at being historical fiction would have been lost. And since his final words were also a matter of historical record, the fact that he announced that his persecutors would soon stand before God's judgment was also no surprise. But the scene is so well-written that it seems fresh, and even though a reasonably informed reader will already know what is coming, it still seems almost shocking when it happens.

Another compelling scene is the banishment of all three of the princesses of France for adultery. Once again, this is a well-documented historical fact, as two of the daughters-in-law of Philip the Fair were actually convicted of adultery and sentenced to life imprisonment, while the third was convicted of conspiring to aid the others in their adultery and sentenced to imprisonment for an indefinite period of time. The scenes surrounding this event, which is the pivotal moment in the novel, and the pivotal moment in the series, as it cast the line of succession to the throne of France into chaos, are fascinating to read, not just for the historical content, but for the deft way in which Druon makes these momentous events clearly human events, driven by vanity, greed, jealousy, and anger. For example, the princesses live are spared not because of any particular magnanimity on the part of the King, but rather because to execute them would have impoverished one of his sons. The accusations against the princesses were instigated by Isabella of England and Robert of Artois, who laid a trap to reveal the affairs. In the book, Isabella is motivated by personal animosity, while Robert is motivated by a desire to gain the upper hand against his aunt in a dispute over property, and the result of these petty aims is to throw the entire nation into chaos, and spark a war that would last a century. But it all revolves around a scene in which the three princesses are before the King, their heads shaved in shame, saying goodbye to their husbands forever after watching their lovers get flayed alive. And the scene is gripping, and brilliant.

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  1. That has got to be an awesome read. Hope you're enjoying it!

    New follower via GFC :)

    My FF

    1. Amanda: It is quite good thus far. As I said, its the first of a seven book series, and I'm not all the way through this volume yet, but thus far it has been an enjoyable read.

  2. Sounds really good, especially because it actually follows history for real, even if it is fiction. I tend to be unhappy when I read something that's supposed to be based on real history and it strays too far from reality.

    Old Bloglovin' follower, here's my FF post for this week.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Lexxie Lin: Thus far, the book has been true to the historical accounts. There are some portions where there are disputes over what really happened, and Duron has to essentially pick a side, but he hasn't contradicted anything that is basically "settled history".

      That is probably one of the reasons why the series is so popular in France. According to Martin, it has been made into a French television series twice, although it is not available in an English translation, either dubbed or subtitled.

  3. Oh I have got to read this ASAP. I inhale anything about the 100 years war! Love it!

    1. Julia Rachel Barrett: The book is quite good. The only thing that has been difficult (even for me, and I'm familiar with the history of the era) has been keeping all the names straight. There are a lot of moving parts in this novel, and while it has become easier to tell the players apart as the book has gone on, it was somewhat eye-crossing at the beginning.

      Also, the books are apparently hard to find, and Martin says that the last has never been translated into English. Online sources make that first issue less critical though, and I think the copy I'm reading is the start of a fresh attempt to get the whole series published in an English translation.

  4. new follower, great site you have here. Hope you can follow me too!

    Guinevere+Libertad @

    1. Guinevere & Libertad Tomas: Thank you very much. Hopping over to return the follow.

  5. Hey :) Just wanted to let you know I stopped by.I'm a new follower! I'm following you via GFC. Hope to get a follow back :)


    1. Amber: Thank you for stopping by. I'm happy to follow back.

  6. Replies
    1. aussiebookworm: Hi back at you. Nice to meet you.

  7. Hopping through! New follower via Linky. :)

    My FF Friday

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog