What I would have preferred was some reference to lesser known "vanished kingdoms". I really had no interest in the last seven chapters and pretty mucWhat I would have preferred was some reference to lesser known "vanished kingdoms". I really had no interest in the last seven chapters and pretty much skimmed through them. The chapter on "Byzantion" was barely two dozen pages in length and of no particular interest. The second chapter "Alt Clud: Kingdom of the Rock" left me in utter confusion as to just what he was going on about.
Much of this should have been entertaining, but it was, I'm afraid, bogged down with too much detail and overly long and not really relevant prose. A simple of intent at the beginning of each chapter would have left the reader in no doubt as to the author's intent - and thus a decision could be made whether to continue down the long and winding road.
I loved his book "The Isles" but this I was slightly indifferent to. Shame really - could have been quite an interesting read....more
Others have raved about this book but I just couldn't get into the story - and I enjoy a good historical "what-if" story. The bulk of the narrative isOthers have raved about this book but I just couldn't get into the story - and I enjoy a good historical "what-if" story. The bulk of the narrative is in the form of letters written by two sisters, initially to each other and then to others. However, I personally don't think this works as the line between the "letters" and standard story telling becomes ambiguous, and it seems that what begins as a first-person retelling of events drifts into a third party observer account. At 450 odd pages, I would have preferred the straight story-telling or first-person account with each voice taking an alternating chapter, with the voices joining together in the final chapters....more
Our story starts with two sisters – Katharina, who is a lacemaker at the Flemish abbey of Lendelmolen; the other, Heilwich, who is a housekeeper of soOur story starts with two sisters – Katharina, who is a lacemaker at the Flemish abbey of Lendelmolen; the other, Heilwich, who is a housekeeper of sorts to a nearby priest. Both stories are presented in the first person narrative.
As intricate as the pattern of the lace, the other voices are added to the story - Denis, a border guard whose job it is to seek out the smugglers; a dog used for smuggling; Lisette, a young girl who has fallen under the spell of lace; Alexandre, a young man with no future of his own who seeks redemption and honour; and a wily, scheming count who hopes to use this precious gift as a bribe to secure his own financial future.
As one by one the characters meet and their stories merge, we are drawn along on the journey – will the prized lace be secured in time to prevent the dishonor of one – or will our young hero fail in his task. The reader will be held spellbound until the final chapters reveal all – and the pattern is complete.
I read this in one sitting – it is not an overly long book, nor are the chapters drawn out. All is concise and the stories easy to follow....more
Finally - I have finished this last chapter in the Agnes de Souarcy Chronicles. All our major protagonists have taken to the field of battle - who areFinally - I have finished this last chapter in the Agnes de Souarcy Chronicles. All our major protagonists have taken to the field of battle - who are the six women at the centre of this mystery. All is revealed....more
The interweaving stories are slowly merging as the main cast cross paths. The truth of their quest is beginning to emerge but they are yet to understaThe interweaving stories are slowly merging as the main cast cross paths. The truth of their quest is beginning to emerge but they are yet to understand. On to the third chronicle - The Divine Blood....more
I enjoyed the intewoven storied - others have chided the characters of Clement and Agnes but for good to triumph over evil, our characters must assum I enjoyed the intewoven storied - others have chided the characters of Clement and Agnes but for good to triumph over evil, our characters must assume their roles diligently. On to the second chronicle - The Breath of the Rose....more
Two chapters (well lengthy introduction and one chapter) and nothing new here for me - have yet to read the three novels which I will wgen I get throuTwo chapters (well lengthy introduction and one chapter) and nothing new here for me - have yet to read the three novels which I will wgen I get through this....more
Interesting - a switched-at-birth story based in France during the reign of King Philip IV and his sons.
The first five chapters of the book deal withInteresting - a switched-at-birth story based in France during the reign of King Philip IV and his sons.
The first five chapters of the book deal with the story of Giannino di Guccio who is told that he is the real King of France, though switched at birth, by Colia di Rienzo, Senator (sometime Dictator) of Rome. We follow Giannino as he leaves his home in Siena to set out to prove (by what ever means) that he is indeed Jean I, King of France.
France at this period was locked in a bitter struggle with England over who was entitled to inherit the French throne after the death of Phillip the Fair and his sons. It it the time of the Hundred Years War - and there are many factions eager to see a destablising of political power in France.
The second half of the book deals with the author Tommaso di Carpegna Falconieri's search for the truth behind the story. Was Giannino myth or real? Was his story real or a complete fabrication? Was there any historical "truths" that could support or not such a story.
Falconieri was not the first author to write of Giannino - those who have read Maurice Druon's "Les Rois Maudits" would be familiar with his story.
What struck me most whilst reading this tome on Mary Stuart was just how unprepared for her role as Queen of Scotland she really was. Her early life wWhat struck me most whilst reading this tome on Mary Stuart was just how unprepared for her role as Queen of Scotland she really was. Her early life was totally dominated by her Guise relatives during her time in France as Dauphine. She was in effect raised to be Queen of France rather than Queen of Scotland - nothing of her time in France went to preparation for a return to the country of her birth.
Her time as Queen of Scotland proper was - in my opinion - a failure. With her blind reliance on her relatives, she was unable to develop an opinion of her own nor develop the lessons taught her by both Catherine de Medici and Diane de Poitiers. Graham remarks of Darnely (her disasterous choice of second husband): "... like Mary, had no wish to apply himself to the practicalities of government." Mary had been spoonfed in France and all decision making had been taken out of her hands - with - as we know - disasterous effects. And again, as Graham remarks: "... the Valois Kings held their power to be God-given and Mary followed their example blindly."
Events and influences of her early childhood become obvious when Mary assumes her role as Queen of Scotland - one cannot but imagine that at no time was Mary's return to Scotland even planned, and thus she knew nothing of its changing religious beliefs, style of government or status of the nobility. And all of the above reflect her style of rule.
What was a bit of a surprise for me was how early Mary had made the acquaintance of Bothwell - during her time in France when he was in semi-imposed exile. And how frequently he appears in her life once she has returned to Scotland. I guess after a bad marriage to "a bisexual syphilitic" and slightly effeminiate boy, a rough and ready "man's man" made an enjoyable change. I for one think that Mary went rather willingly with Bothwell.
Another point that struck me was Elizabeth I's ability to meddle in the affairs of Scotland and yet have a bit of a hissy fit when Mary sought to do the same. I am sure that Elizabeth would have not allowed another foreign monarch to attempt to not only influence her political and personal decisions, but that of both her government and nobles. And yet this is exactly what Elizabeth herself does in Scotland under Mary.
The death of Mary Stuart at the hands of another monarch has always been a source of contention for me. One can always point to finger at the so called Casket Letters and the Babington Plot in support of this action - but Elizabeth stayed her hand many times before signing the document - and even then was having second thoughts. Mayhap the thought that this could quite easily be her own future would not have been too far from her mind.
Mary's story is no doubt a tragic one - one cannot help but wonder how things may have turned out had she listened to wiser heads and not behaved with childish impetuosity.