I have a confession to make. I, like many people, read this book because of GRRM (George R.R. Martin). I am a huge fan of GRRM’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. I’ve been reading it (and re-reading it) since the fall of 1998. So yes, I have had to wait 5 years between books, but it was so worth it. I even went to a WorldCon in 2006 with some other members of the Brotherhood Without Banners from westeros.org, and hung out with GRRM. I will never forget that because he hugged me! Squee! I have a nice picture with him as well. It was great fun hanging out with him and other members of BWB. I’m not active on that site any more, but my love for the series has not wavered since then. Needless to say, if GRRM recommends a book series, I am more likely to try it. So, enter The Iron King.
I listened to this book on audio, and I think that helped quite a bit. The narrator was very engaging, and really kept the story moving. I think that if I had “read” it, then I may have a slightly different opinion of the story.
The story is about the French King Philip IV and his court in the 13th and 14th centuries. As you can probably guess, there was a lot of drama. It almost plays as a soap opera, 13th century style. It reminded me of the Showtime TV Show The Tudors, but probably more historically accurate.
I know very little about the history of France’s monarchy, so I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the historical events. This is historical fiction, so I would venture to say that the major events are accurate,but obviously the conversations and probably minor events are not exactly right. The story itself was engaging and the characters were interesting, if not the most deep. There was a certain surface level treatment of the characters that at times could make them a bit cartoonish, but I think that was the intended tone of the book. This is not some grim dark fantasy where every character is either evil or some crazy shade of gray, so the darkness that is in there (there is a torture scene in the book that is not particularly graphic, but you do feel the gruesomeness of the act) is subdued by the tone.
There were lots of names and places thrown out, and at times it was a bit hard to follow. I did get the names and the matching husbands of the princesses confused at times, but, without giving away spoilers, that issue works itself out eventually. It was definitely a set up book for the remaining 6 books in the series. I am going to give the second book, The Strangled Queen, a try.