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Maurice Druon, RIP

French novelist, historian, and World War II resistance fighter Maurice Druon has died at 90. He lived a pretty extraordinary life. You can read his obit here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/world/europe/16druon.html

I never had the honor of meeting M. Druon, and I have not even read all of his work (yet). But I am a huge fan of his best known novels, the wonderful "Accursed Kings" series of historical novels. I have often said that my own SONG OF ICE AND FIRE was inspired as much by historical fiction as by fantasy, and Druon's series was one of my major inspirations (along with the work of other favorites like Thomas B. Costain, Mika Waltari, Bernard Cornwell, and many more). The ACCURSED KINGS is great stuff. Philip the Fair, the Curse of the Templars, the end of the Capetians and the roots of the Hundred Years War... I don't read French, but even in translation these are great reads. (Although I don't believe the last volume has ever been published in English, which some publisher should rectify).

Every writer hopes that he will still be read after his death. Here's your chance to make M. Druon's dream come true, and do yourself a favor at the same time. Go off to ebay or ABE books and find yourself a copy of THE IRON KING, the first volume of the series. You won't regret it.

Comments

goldfired
Apr. 17th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
French TV made an absolutely wonderful serialisation of the novels in the 1970s. When most historical series went with sumptuous costumes and extravagant sets (and still do), these were filmed almost like a theatrical event, with bare, stripped sets, perhaps with just a few medieval chairs, and many effects created by lighting, sharply angled on bare faces ...

You focused completely on the plot, and the characters - haunted, agonised, scheming, and sometimes downright evil. It was a terrific retelling of the novels (which I promptly read in translation).

I saw them originally with subtitles; when I saw them twenty years later, I was delighted to discover they hadn't dated in the way some costume drama does, as you become aware that Robin Hood's hairstyle is so nineteen fifties, or Anne Boleyn's beauty is very 1960s. And, even though I was attempting to follow them with my poor French this time, they were still riveting.

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