The Original Game of Thrones


Tomás Tobon Jaramillo

The complete “Accursed Kings” series stacked on top of each other from the first at the top to the last at the bottom. “Every man believes to some extent that the world began when he was born and, at the moment of leaving it, suffers at having to let the Universe remain unfinished.”― Maurice Druon, The Iron King

Tomás Tobón, Lifestyle Editor

The Hundred Years’ War was the longest-running conflict between Great Britain and France in history. It spanned the reign of seven French kings, five English kings and transformed the culture of these two realms into what they are today. This book-series tackles the intrigue, assassination attempts, lust, and war between these fraternal enemies, all depicted by one of France’s best writers in recent history, internationally acclaimed author Maurice Druon. 

An extremely well-developed book series with intricate details, characters that feel real, and a setting in which you feel you are right there went as far as to captivate the attention of the Soviet Union, where most Western literature was banned. Written from 1955 to 1977, this is one of the classics of modern European literature. The series is entertaining because of the lack of filler and having constant action in almost whatever scenario makes it even more thrilling when reading it. Another important aspect is the books’ length. The longest of them all, The She-Wolf of France, has 381 pages, while the shortest one, The Royal Succession, has 325. With the seven books combined, they average out to around 340 pages which is excellent for readers who want a good short read.

The character development is internationally recognized as one of the bedrocks for the high standards readers have in 2020. One can know what the characters are thinking, planning, and doing at all times. That remains pretty consistent throughout the seven books. This adds a ton of depth because it allows the reader to relax in terms of what they have to infer. Even so, it is also engaging enough to make the readers start guessing what is going to happen next. After all, a minimum amount of background knowledge would help a to understand some of the finer parts of the series. Even if you don’t have such knowledge, it isn’t that necessary, as the books themselves act like informational papers.

If you have already read at least one book of George R. R Martin’s Game of Thrones you will feel at home when reading the Accursed Kings series, mostly because Martin himself said that he developed his writing style thanks to Druon. This can be evidenced in an interview that Martin held with Ben Milne of the BBC in 2013. “American author George R. R. Martin called the author ‘France’s best historical novelist since Alexandre Dumas’, père Martin also dubbed The Accursed Kings as “the original game of thrones”, citing Druon’s novels as an inspiration for his series A Song of Ice and Fire, which has been adapted for television as Game of Thrones. Additionally, he added, “believe me, the Starks, the Lannisters and the Baratheon´s have nothing on the Capets, the Plantagenets and the Valois.” 

The historical period is described with the most historical accuracy. The reason being that during the 1950s to the ’70s, there was considerable interest in not only historical novels but history as a whole. The description standards were very high. This makes the entire series similar to a history resource because everything was fact-checked by historians of the time. Druon being a historian himself also gives credibility to this point. In a 2013 Booklist Starred Review, David Pitt called the novel “historical fiction on a grand scale, full of political intrigue, family drama, and characters who, while drawn from life, are larger than it”. The entire system of marriages and social hierarchy of France in the 14th century is perfectly explained and all of this with the never-ending political insight, brutal warfare, cold calculations, murder, corruption, and sexual passion thrown into the mix just to prove how tumultuous the French royal court was during the 1300s. The details on the setting, the problems, the intrigues, the strategies, and the wars are one step above what we see today even though it was written over 60 years ago. And as Stefan Rates put it, “the flavour of the times, the smells, sounds, values, and superstitions give this work a fine readability as well as a sensation of reality”.

The sheer amount of content that is embedded in this seven-book series is simply astounding. It is one of the best reads that I have had in a long time, so much so that I read the seven books in one sitting because I couldn’t contain the thirst for knowledge of what is going to be the fate of France and her rise as Europe’s mainland power. I recommend this series for both avid readers and the more casual bunch as well.