Book of the Day: For Game of Thrones Fans, The Iron King

GOT Inspiration

In the Game of Thrones series, George R.R. Martin masterfully manages a broad cast of characters, sweeping conflict, location and plot. His ability to keep things moving and keep the reader involved in the story is an inspiration for every writer.

George R.R. Martin’s Inspiration

I recently discovered that he’d used a series of historical novels as a strong inspiration. And the series, called The Cursed Kings, is about a part of French History that I love—the fall of the Knights Templar.

Not one, but two French television series have been made from The Cursed Kings series, of which this book is the first. George R.R. Martin wrote the forward for The Iron King. He cites The Cursed Kings by Maurice Drouon as a strong influence on him while writing A Song of Ice and Fire.

Drama Kicked Off by a Curse

The Iron King kicks off in Paris in 1314 where the French king Philip the Fair (as in ‘good looking,’ not in any way as in ‘just’) has arranged take down the Knights Templar, to whom he owed vast sums of money. From the flaming bonfire, white-bearded Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay curses the king, and the Pope, who is colluding with him, saying they will both be dead in a year and “You shall be accursed to the 13th generation of your lines!” You know we’re going to have fun watching that curse come home to roost.

This plaque stands where the last Grandmaster of the Knights Templar was burned. It says “On this place Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Order of the Temple was burned on March 18, 1314.
Here is a great book to read before you visit Paris, by the way, especially if you are a fan of medieval court intrigue. And Game of Thrones fans, I hate to break it to you, but that’s what you’re watching so avidly every week! You are also watching Epic Fantasy, a genre which at one time seemed the least likely to be brought to HBO as a series. Bravo to the folks to made that happen, and who keep us watching!

Thanks for reading my blog! Please leave me a comment. What’s your favorite thing about Game of Thrones?

Book of the Day: Voyage to the Time of the French Revolution

Notre Dame, Paris, France, Margaret Mayo McGlynn
Paris, France, Cathedral, Notre Dame
Notre Dame, Paris

So you want to go to Paris. Who doesn’t? April is a beautiful time to be there. Trees with soft purple blossoms rain petals at the foot of Notre Dame. Lovers kiss in the parks, and the restaurants serve white asparagus grown in the Loire Valley.

The first time I saw Paris I was with my mother in 1989, the 200th Anniversary year of the Storming of the Bastille, and I’d just emerged from a messy breakup. I was cranky and difficult, a painful state amplified by the hi-test cafe au lait served in our little hotel in Montparnasse.

When I picked up a copy of Christopher Hibbert’s the The Days of the French Revolution, Mom let me read it to her at bedtime. It was just what I needed, a gory blow-by-blow account of that violent and thrilling time. The pictures it flashed on my mind might have been made by a videographer of the sort who took the Vietnam footage beaming into our living room nightly when I was a child. My mom would nod off when I was only a few pages into each chapter, but I kept reading.

It grabbed me first with a rather graphic supposition about the King’s inability to sire children, and a surgery performed to correct that royal predicament. Later the Parisians storming the old prison, increasingly murderous, leaving death in their wake. One unforgettable vignette shows Marie Antoinette peering through a Versailles window to see the head of her best friend on a pike. Bloody? Yes. Disturbing? Uh-huh. Boring? No way.

Léon-Maxime Faivre - Death of the Princess de Lamballe [1908]

Léon-Maxime Faivre – Death of the Princess de Lamballe [1908]

This book is vivid and detailed. If you are visiting Paris for the first time and your taste runs a bit more Silence of the Lambs than The Notebook, this is the read for you. This was my first Hibbert, but definitely not my last. The guy wrote about many things I find fascinating. Maybe you will, too!

Ever read any Christopher Hibbert? What’s your favorite history book? What’s your favorite era in history to read about? Comments are welcome!

Be Your Own Tour Guide – Great History Books for Travel

Notre Dame de Paris, France

Everybody travels differently, which is why I don’t like organized tours. What you find interesting I might find deadly dull. Travel just isn’t one size fits all. Which is why I like to do lots of research on a place before I go. I like to be my own tour guide, so my husband and I can go at our own pace and see what really interests us.

One of my favorite ways to get to know a place before I visit is to read a great history book about it.

I’ve done this over and over again before trips to Italy, France and England. And now, you can check out what kinds of things I like to read in my very own Amazon store. Pretty cool, eh? Please take a gander and let me know if you have any questions.

Click here to check out my History Books for Travel Store!

I’ve got pages for France and Italy, and there will be more to come, probably Bermuda, oh, yes, and Los Angeles. There’s so much great stuff about here that I can’t wait to share with you!