This is the first book in The Accursed Kings series which inspired George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.
I have always wanted to learn more about the Capetian dynasty of France. In this novel, the leading character is Philip IV, also known as Philip the Fair owing to the king’s handsome looks. But his rigid and icy personality also earned him another nickname, which is “the Iron King”.
On the whole, the novel is episodic but doesn’t lack suspenseful moments. Some descriptions of the cruel methods of execution and torture are quite graphic. Apart from being entertained on the royals jockeying for power and the royal women’s love affairs, one also gets a peek into the period’s morals, superstitions, politics and religious and territorial conflicts. One of Philips IV’s more notorious deeds is his brutal annihilation of the Order of the Knights Templar and confiscation of its wealth. He also directs much of his effort towards wrestling power from the Holy Empire. Generally, character development is not very well executed.
It is interesting to note that the demise of the Order of the Templars gave rise to construction guilds and secret institutions that eventually became the origins of Freemasonry, a fraternal organization known for its secretive initiation rites.
I’m giving this novel 3.7 stars, rounding up to 4. I’m undecided as to whether I will read the sequels (including this one, there are seven books in the whole series).