Maurice Druon’s THE IRON KING
March 30, 2013
I never met Druon, alas (he died only a few years ago, and I regret that I never had the chance to shake his hand), but from all reports he was an extraordinary man. He was French, highly distinguished, a resistance fighter against the Nazis, a historian, a member of the French Academy… well, you can read about his life on Wikipedia, and it makes quite a story in itself. He wrote short stories, contemporary novels, a history of Paris… and an amazing seven-volume series about King Philip IV of France, his sons and daughters, the curse of the Templars, the fall of the Capetian dynasty, the roots of the Hundred Years War. The books were a huge success in France. So huge than they have twice formed the basis for television shows (neither version is available dubbed or subtitled in English, to my annoyance), series that one sometimes hears referred to as “the French I, CLAUDIUS.” The English translations… well, the seventh volume has never been translated into English at all, and the first six are long out of print, available only in dusty hardcovers and tattered paperbacks from rare book dealers found on ABE.
But that’s about to change, thanks to my own British publisher, HarperCollins, who are bringing THE ACCURSED KINGS back into print at long last in a series of handsome new hardbacks. The first volume, THE IRON KING, has just been published… with a brand new introduction by some guy named George R.R. Martin.
The best news… at least for me… is the HarperCollins not only intends to release new English editions of the first six novels of THE ACCURSED KINGS, but also… finally!!!… translate the seventh and concluding volume. (Talk about waiting a long time for a book).
Anyway… whether you want something else to occupy your time while waiting for THE WINDS OF WINTER, or you’re just looking for a good read… you won’t go wrong with Maurice Druon, France’s best historical novelist since Dumas Pere.