Real life is better than fiction

History dramatized in historical fiction is so entertaining.  So many times it is better than fiction!

I love the era of the Tudors and the War of the Roses, it is full of intrigue, beauty and so much drama. The lives of these kings and queens is unbelievable sometimes. Some authors do so well in bringing us back to those times and immersing us into the lives of these extraordinary people. Two of my most favorite authors are Phillipa Gregory and Bernard Cornwell, but I have another favorite, Maurice Druon.

I have really enjoyed the first 2 books of the series of the Accursed Kings, and highly recommend the books to any lover of historical fiction.The iron king & The strangled queen This series follows the reign of Phillip the Fair, King of France. The king is ridding himself of the Knights Templar by way of torture and gruesome deaths through burning at the stake. Then a prophecy is proclaimed from the burnt mouth of the Grand Master of the Templar before he dies and everything changes for the worse for the Iron King of France. Soon, the kingdom is shaken by the treasonous lives of the King’s son’s wives and chaos presumes.

The second book speaks about the daughter of the Iron King and the adulterous wife of his son. If you remember the beautiful French queen in Braveheart, well that’s the daughter of Phillip the Fair. This book continues the line of the Iron King and is full of so much betrayal, death and torture!

Happy endings are nice and all, but in real life sometimes there are no happy endings.  Main characters die, beautiful princesses and queens don’t find true love, powerful kings fail and innocents are wrongly executed. This is probably why I enjoy historical fiction because I get an incredible story and I may not know how the story ends, or I may not like how it ends.  That’s totally okay with me.

To the Christian, this series gives us a glimpse of the history of the church. In the 1300’s the Catholic Church wielded a lot of political power. There was a lot of corruption and most of Europe was Christian. It was a dark time in Europe. Only a select few could read His Word and whatever a bishop or priest said became what the people believed. It is a very sad time in our history. There were voices, though, in that time, crying out in the wilderness. Very few voices, but God’s Church prevailed. These were the dark ages and soon the black plague would wipe out almost half of them.

I highly recommend these two books if you enjoy historical fiction. I am looking forward in reading the whole series and have them on my summer reading list. If you would like to buy the books, click here.

#historicalfiction #mauricedruon #books #read #bookreview

The Last Tudor – Book Review

The Last Tudor is about the three Grey sisters during Tudor times, and like all Philippa Gregory book it is written in the first person. The book starts off with Jane Grey, then Katherine Grey and ends with little Mary Grey. Their stories are generally sad and they end up losing to Queen Elizabeth. I am not spoiling anything, because everyone knows that Queen Elizabeth is never usurped and there is reason she stayed on the throne for so long.

Like almost all of Mrs. Gregory’s books, I really enjoyed the read. This one really didn’t stick out  much like “The Taming of the Queen” did for me but it wasn’t a bore either. I was unfamiliar with the stories of these women and I was quiet intrigued by their lives. Mrs. Gregory is a great story teller and it was a good way to end the Tudor dynasty.

I really wish she would write about Queen Isabella of Castile and her family. There is some very interesting drama there!

The book does have about three loves scenes, but they are not descriptive and they didn’t go on for long. There is no swearing and there is some theology in this book about “learning to die”. I would let only my older teen daughters read this book (16+) due to these themes.

You can buy the book here.

She Wolves – Book Review

On my reading challenge list, one of the items is to read a book on  history. I chose a book on some awesome queens pre-Elizabeth I. The book covered 4 queens extensively: Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, and Margaret of Anjou. All these women ruled England in one way or another and their stories are just extraordinary! To be so brave in a time when women were not seen as courageous and only as a means to heirs was very much refining to me.  These women were brutal in defending their cause and the way they made their choices was convicting. They didn’t settle, they didn’t back down and when faced with defeat they faced their ends with dignity.

The author, Helen Castor, does a great job in making the book come to life with the lives of these women. There is a feminist feel to the book as a whole. This is a book written by a woman, about women, for distinctively a female audience. I say this not to take away anything from the book. It is well written, and I very much enjoyed it.

Ms. Castor also touches a little upon Queen Mary I of England a bit and defends her choice in picking a Spanish husband very well. She also writes a bit on Queen Elizabeth and the success of her reign.

Recommendations: I recommend this book to any woman who loves history, especially female monarchs. Also any history buff on the queens of England.

To the Christian: From the beginning of time the world had distorted the relationship between a man and a woman, especially when it comes to marriage. Ms. Castor does have a tasteful bias for the women she writes about. She defends their decisions eloquently and I did find her enjoyable to read. The ending was a little odd because it ends with a question. The book is not graphic or dull either. Thankfully, Ms. Castor doesn’t bash the Christian faith either like many women writers do when it comes to these subjects.

 

 

 

 

Isabella Warrior Queen – Book Review

For the past two years I have printed out Tim Challies “Reading Challenge Book List“. Last year I read a total of 17 books off that list and it was so much fun trying to find “new” books I wouldn’t normally read. This year, so far, has not let me down!

The first option on the reading list is to read a biography. So I chose a book on Queen Isabella of Spain. I had never read on her and the few things I did know about her were indirectly because I am an absolute fan on all things relating to Henry VIII’s wives. (Queen Isabella’s last daughter was Katherine of Aragon and she became King Henry VIII’s first wife.)

The book “Isabella The Warrior Queen” covered everything about her and it also provided mini-biographies on other major people influenced by her like Christopher Columbus, Mehmed the Conqueror, Pope Alexander VI, Gonzalo Fernandez de Cordoba, Henry VII of England and other very interesting people.

The author – Kirstin Downey – did a very great job in providing first hand account information on both sides of history. The war accounts given in the book are bloody. The slavery, kidnappings, rape, torture, disease and outright hopelessness mentioned in this book really gave me a sense of gratitude that I live in the day in age I do.

The Spanish Inquisition is covered extensively, but new insights of how many actually died in it were given.  And some of Isabella’s thoughts on leniency in this matter are evident in her letters to her Inquisitors.

There is also a rather big section on the degeneration of the Catholic church. She boldly reprimanded Pope Alexander VI for his lascivious behavior and simony. She even imprisoned his son Cesare (yes, they are supposed to be celibate) for murder. Another large section on Christopher Columbus and the Americas was also surprising. She expected both these men to represent Christ (especially the pope!!) where they were at and she did not shy away from pointing out their many faults in their representation – always reminding them where their money came from.

I was also very surprised by how well Isabella knew war and strategy. Even when her husband Ferdinand didn’t think she could win, she proved him wrong several times. It was with her campaigning and insight that Spain was able to stop the Muslim expansion into her kingdom and because of her that they conquered even more ground. She truly was a warrior queen! It is even believed that the queen piece in chess was given more “power” in the game due to Isabella’s prowess in war.

She loved her husband passionately and her children also. But she did not let that love hinder her from making sound decisions on all aspects regarding her kingdom.

I also couldn’t stand King Ferdinand throughout the book. On Isabella’s death bed, Isabella begged Ferdinand not to marry after she was gone so as not to jeopardize the inheritance of their children and grand-children destabilizing all they had worked for.  Ferdinand promised her he wouldn’t, but less than a year later, he was married again. Throughout the book he is a conniving man that really got on my nerves.  Ferdinand died several years later due to a bad concoction of bull testicle juice that supposedly would help his vigor in producing a male heir.  Very fitting I thought.

There is so much more to her in this book that makes for a great soap opera and what is amazing is that it is true! She really existed! She really was a fascinating woman in a time when the only fascinating thing about women was their beauty. She was a great debater and protector of women and children. She was a learner, a warrior and a reader and she loved her God. The faults she did have, the whole world can judge for themselves on her motives. Regardless, I do not believe it takes away from what she accomplished.

To the Christian: This year marks the 500 year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I was very pleased to read in this book that Isabella was reading material that Martin Luther read as a young man and that influenced him later to nail his 95 thesis. She defended men who called out the outright debauchery of the Catholic church. I wondered a lot about where she would have stood during the times of the Reformation due to other opinions she had about the way the Church was going. This book also gives us plenty of  history of what was going on in the church and I shudder at what many did in the name of Christ. But there were glimpses of light still there during such a dark time. Some things to ask ourselves is how do we twist Scripture to enhance our fleshly agenda? How and when do we call out behavior that paints the Church or Christ in a bad light? How best can we exemplify Jesus in a world that is so divided and dark? With many flaws, Isabella did it in a way she thought best, having effects that still impact us today. For example, I speak Spanish and most of my family is Catholic even though we live thousands of miles away from her kingdom and it is because of her. What we do as Christians can also impact generations from now.

May all we do bring glory to God.