samedi 6 septembre 2014

La Reine Etranglee (The Strangled Queen) by Maurice Druon


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After the events of The Iron King, The Strangled Queen picks up immediately after King Phillip’s death, with his weakling son, Louis X, coming to the throne. As Louis struggles to assert himself and navigate the tangled strands of family and politics that surround him, the chief worry of the court is his wife – Marguerite of Bourgogne, the adulteress locked in prison and waiting to know her fate. As the church attempts to choose a new Pope and the country falls into famine, the complex rivalries at court will tear the country apart, leading to a crime that will haunt the country for years to come…

The Strangled Queen was a great continuation of The Iron King, picking up almost immediately after the last book and continuing the storylines introduced in the first book. We once again follow as courtiers, bankers and kings struggle within the tangled web of rivalries, family fueds and class wars, and it is definitely a good idea to pick this one up not too long after the first. The title gives away a major plotpoint later in the book, obviously, but for anyone with a knowledge of history the eventual fate of Marguerite of Bourgogne is not a major surprise. That fate, though, is really secondary to the complex plotting, scheming and intrigue that goes on between Charles of Valois and Enguerrand de Marigny, plotting that takes many twists and turns before the end of the book. In the centre of this is Louis, a weak man who has responsibility and power foisted on him and who deals with it as best he can… which unfortunately is not very well at all. Louis’ character is not appealing but it is interesting, giving us a glimpse into the fractured psyche of a man whose fears and insecurities look set to drag his country down with him. Thanks to this character, and the constant comparison with his younger brother, Maurice Druon does a good job of shining a light on the utterly illogical means of choosing a leader under any kind of political system where the first bon son follows his father, thus putting aside other siblings who might be much more suited to the job.

I gave The Strangled Queen 4 stars.

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