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Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

Currently reading

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Ken Follett
Paul Bannister
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The Strangled Queen by Maurice Druon

The Strangled Queen - Maurice Druon

With the glowing recommendation of GRR Martin, the Accursed Kings series is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. I loved the first book, The Iron King, and only waited this long to read the second installment due to my aversion to Kindle books that cost more than a couple of dollars.

The Strangled Queen begins where the Iron King ends, with the death of Phillip the Fair of France. His inept son becomes Louis X, and the fighting ensues over who will have the real power in France. Will it be the young king's uncle, the ever-plotting Charles of Valois, or the capable if cold-hearted Enguerrand de Marigny, who had kept the country operating smoothly for Phillip? The answer to this question drives the action of this book and is only answered in its final pages

The eventual downfall of the Capet's is forecast throughout this novel as Louis proves time and again that he is not his father or even the sainted grandfather he claims to emulate. Valois sees his opportunity and is ambitious to get a crown upon his head before his days are through.

Marguerite, who should be enthroned at Louis's side, continues to waste away in prison. Her sister and partner in crime, Blanche, shares in her misery. Though she is the titular character, very little of the scenes revolve around Marguerite. Her fate, however, is intertwined with that of the men who grasp at power.

The series continues to follow the sub-plot of Guiccio Baglioni, a young banker who fell in love in book one with a woman whose family he was supposed to be collecting debt from. Guiccio seems to enjoy his place in the sun as he is sent on special missions, but at the same time struggles with the injustice that causes starvation to some while others hoard supplies.

While this was a captivating stand-alone story, I can't help but feel that it is simply a stepping stone to get the reader to greater action that will follow. It was not quite as fast-paced as Iron King, but kept my interest and left me wishing that I had book three, The Poisoned Crown, waiting in the wings.