Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: The Fortunes of France by Robert Merle

This is an epic thirteen book series which "tells the story of Pierre de Siorac, a young Huguenot nobleman, and follows his adventures as he tries to balance his competing loyalties, to his faith and king, during the bloody French Wars of Religion of the sixteenth century, which pitted Catholics and Protestants against each other and tore the country in two."

These books are very descriptive – sometimes painfully so, and, I cannot emphasis the word enough, detail events from the French perspective. The story telling is, at times,  cumbersome as it reads like a history lesson, again from the French perspective.  We are also treated to a very detailed monologue of the cast of characters and their history.  In the beginning, I could not follow who was actually narrating events – it is Pierre (bc.1551), who retells of events that have occurred in the past until we reach current events (Book 3).

Book 1: The Bretheren - covers the period 1547 -1565
We are introduced to the Protestant de Siorac family, living in the Perigord region of France, and are told how they and their entourage came to occupy Mespech (1545) – these are “the Bretheren” of the title (Jean de Siorac, Jean de Sauveterre, and three other veteran soldiers).

Book 2: City of Wisdom & Blood - covers the period 1565 – 1570
Now an adult, Pierre de Siorac leaves Mespech and travels sto Montpellier, accompanied by his brother Samson and the crafty Miroul. This new life away from the safety of their home will bring with it many dangers and delights.

Book 3: Heretic Dawn - begins from 1570
Pierre de Siorac travels to Paris, where he becomes embroiled in personal and political intrigues at the royal court before the capital erupts in the communal violence of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and he and his companions must fight for their lives.

It is a series definitely worth pursuing – I read the kindle versions of these three books, which probably detracted from my reading pleasure, as I do prefer to have a "hard copy" in my hand when reading

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