Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Fortune de France” as Want to Read:
Fortune de France
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Fortune de France

(Fortune de France #1)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,083 ratings  ·  83 reviews
De la mort de François Ier en 1547 à l'édit de Nantes en 1599, la France s'enlise dans l'épreuve des guerres de religion. C'est dans ce pays dévasté, en proie à la misère, au brigandage, à la peste, à la haine, que grandit le jeune Pierre de Siorac, rejeton d'une noble famille périgourdine et huguenote, héros et narrateur du roman.

Dès ce premier volume d'une sa
Paperback, Livre de Poche, 445 pages
Published June 8th 1994 by De Fallois (first published 1977)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Fortune de France, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Fortune de France

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,083 ratings  ·  83 reviews

More filters
Sort order
The subject matter of this novel appealed to me: its backdrop is the sixteenth-century wars of religion in France, seen through the lens of a noble household in the Périgord, near Sarlat. This is the first of a thirteen-novel series by the academic and novelist Robert Merle, written across a quarter of a century (1977-2003), tracing the life of one of the sons of the household, Pierre de Siorac. The novels, collectively entitled Fortune de France, are very well known in France, but have only just begun ...more
Clif Hostetler
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a historical novel narrated in the first person voice of a fictional character named Pierre de Siorac living in the Perigord region of southwest France. This is the first book of a thirteen book series and covers Pierre's early years from his birth in 1552 to 1567.

To help orient readers of this review, the time period covered by this book is after the beginning of the Reformation (1517) and before the Bartholomew's Day massacre (1572). I mention St. Bartholomew's Day massacre because the narrator of
Nov 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Between 1977 and his death in 2004, Robert Merle wrote thirteen novels in his “Fortunes of France” series. Thus far only the first two have been translated into English, although the third is expected to be available next summer. The entire series has been much admired in France. I wish that I could be as enthusiastic about the work as those in Europe apparently are. The writing in this first novel, which covers the years from 1547 to 1565, seems to me to be generally flat. The basic issues in t
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Brethren" is a wonderful, lusty novel grounded in the history of early 16C France. Merle describes the structure of his book quite well in his foreword:
"It is a concentric tail, whose first circle is a family, second circle a province and third a kingdom, whose princes receive no more attention than is necessary to understand the happiness and unhappiness of those who, far away in their baronial courts, depended on their decisions." (7)

This approach is brilliant. Merle balances historical/>"It
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, fiction
I vividly remember watching one of the many three musketeer movies for the first time as a seven year old and being thoroughly enchanted by the pervasive violence and high jinks. I also find the Huguenots, especially the diaspora, really interesting as well. So a history of violent sword brandishing Hugenots was always going to play well with me. There is hopefully much for people who don't share my predilections to enjoy in this historical fiction. Written from the perspective of a young boy gr ...more
The first book of a series of 13 books. Very well written, even by using some medieval French, the story starts under the reign of Catherine de Medicis and Charles IX.
Keith Currie
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first in a long series of novels based around the religious wars in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century France. The central family are Huguenot and this offers an unusual perspective on French history. A combination of social, religious and political history, with a strong seasoning of classic French storytelling in the style of Dumas or Hugo, make this an entertaining and compelling read. Volumes Two and Three are also available in translation, so I will be pursuing them with some fer ...more
Julianne Douglas
Hankering for fiction set in sixteenth century France? I recently discovered THE FORTUNES OF FRANCE by Robert Merle, a series of thirteen historical novels that span the years 1547 to 1661. Written in French from 1977 to 2003, the books follow the Siorac family of Périgord through the tumultous Wars of Religion and into the reign of the Bourbon kings. The first three novels (THE BRETHREN, CITY OF WISDOM AND BLOOD, and HERETIC DAWN) have recently been translated into English by Professor T. Jeffe ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read-2018
This is the first in a series of 13 books following the fortunes of a noble household during the religious wars in 16th century France. I enjoyed the historical setting, but while the religious strife of the period makes for a fascinating backdrop, I just didn't have the patience for the endless religious household squabbles among the characters and found the book entirely too longwinded. And then there's the sexism pretty much oozing off the pages, which is offputting in the extreme.
Christopher Leary
Robert Merle is one of the best HF writers ever. Regrettably, his finest creation, the 13-book Fortune of France series has not been available to English readers. Well, that's about to change. The English translation of the first book comes out in September 2014 in the UK (lucky Brits). The US version is not out until March 2015. Never mind, it's on its way at last.

It long puzzled me that there was no English translation (it's been available in German for a while). Why the puzzlement
Steve Matheson
Drawn to the book by the enticing description on the cover - action, exhilarating blend of adventure and romance - my disappointment grew as I trudged through the chapters, expecting to be immersed in this "swashbuckling" and "lusty, fast paced and heady" read. Ignoring my frustration, I battled on, determined to give Robert Merle's first volume of 'Fortunes of France' a fair turn.

In reality, the novel proved to be a grudging plod through 16th century France; a fictionalised history
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010, paperback
An amazing book! I never would have thought that reading about the religious wars in France in the 16th century can be so interesting (a topic which I'm normally not really interested in).

Of course it's not all about history but tells about the family of the Baron de Siorac and especially about his second son Pierre. We learn a lot about his childhood and Pierre tells us a lot of interesting, funny and sad incidents at the castle of Mespech. The time frame is around 1550 to 1566. ...more
Matt Brady
A pretty fun historical adventure story about a Hugenot family struggling to survive in mid 16th century Framce. If you like Three Mustketeers sort of stuff and can deal with the (probably hisotrically accurate) racism and sexism it's pretty enjoyable. Or "le good" as the French might say :)
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've been thinking for a long time to write about the first volume of Robert Merle's French story. Then, now that the Helikon publisher again allowed me to return to the readership, I decided that time had come and I shared the thoughts. First, when I was 15 when I discovered Robert Merle's French History in my cross-parents' library, I decided to take it off the shelf and start reading it. Needless to say, I did not like it, and in the first place, I was having trouble with his language, then w ...more
Elaine Ruth Boe
Set in sixteenth-century France during the civil wars between Huguenots and Catholics, The Brethren is told as a reflection by the now 25 year old son of one of the Brethren. It starts with how the Brethren met and continues up to the protagonist Pierre's departure from home to study medicine as a teenager. Warning: there are a lot of dry passages about the political moves of the kings of France and religious battles.

This book was written in the 1970s by a man. That's really all you
It took me quite a while to get in to this but by the end I was keen to read the next book (although maybe not keen enough to read all 13 in the series...). Apparently in the original the book is written in ‘old style’ French and although it has not been translated in to the English equivalent, which would be Elizabethan, it is written (I presume purposely) in quite a stilted way that does give the impression of a book written well before the 1970s. Unfortunately that, along with a pretty narrow ...more
Bob Stocker
Written from the point of view of a second son growing up in a Huguenot family, The Brethren by Robert Merle describes the life in 16th Century France, a time of religious wars, power struggles, plagues and famines. People more interested than I am in the time and place may find this novel to be better than the three stars that I'm giving it. Although for my taste the book did not rate more stars, it was good enough that I'll probably try the next book in Merle's Fortunes of France series.
Len Northfield
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
A first class work of historical fiction.

The setting and the pace feel quite precise; the time is delineated with detail and without excessive attention to swashbuckling diversions.

The precision and focus on the people and the small aspects of normal life in Mespech, sets the grander picture of this time of religious upheaval in France in real lives.

I look forward to the next fourteen volumes!
Elizabeth Cencetti
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having ploughed through to the end of Les Rapines du Duc de Guise, I decided to reread this first volume in the wonderful series. I read the whole lot many years ago, eventually having to wait for the next volume to be published. Excellent reading, very well researched. It starts near the end of the reign of François I and continues through to the death of Louis XIII. I now have to find the other books somewhere!
Liz C
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. It wasn't as swashbuckling as some reviewers made out but a decent read. It would probably be better in the original language as it seemed stilted in parts. I am interested in the history of this period so I will certainly read more of this series.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting history in amongst the family story
Dec 03, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was originally published on The Scrying Orb.

Written in 1977 and supposedly an unheralded french classic, this is the first of a 13 volume saga finally being translated into english. It’s about two soldiers, both named Jean, sworn brothers-maybe-lovers, who return from war to establish lands, build wealth, be fruitful and multiply. One of the Jean’s sons, Pierre, narrates his family’s life from some time in the future. It’s a tumultuous life indeed as the Jeans are newly reformed protes
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
One of the finest novels I've ever read. Extremely well-developed, authentic characters and an engrossing story set in the fascinating and tumultuous period of the French Wars of Religion.
Elspeth G. Perkin
An earthy tale that is only the beginning of 16th-century discord of church, crown and one family in France

The Brethren Fortunes of France: Volume 1 captures the violent 16th century with a narrator that is perfect to share his unsettled and conflicted world with his readers. Born of a Catholic (Papist) and a Protestant (Huguenot) Pierre de Siorac is our guide into the many bloody conflicts and the first bleak outcomes of church, crown and even his own familial discord. Nothing is certain in this e/>The
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
This opening novel in a thirteen part saga of the Huguenot de Siorac family during an unsettled period of French history starting in 1547 has at last been translated into English as "The Brethren". "Fortune de France" is best read in its original language, if possible, since it conveys more of a sense of the period, of the personalities of the key characters and the alternating humour and pathos of the chain of incidents. By contrast, the English translation which I used to check a few points ap ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
The first volume in an epic of French historical fiction, set in the second half of the Sixteenth Century against the backdrop of the Reformation and the French wars of religion. It tells the story of two retired protestant soldiers, Jean de Siorac and Jean de Sauveterre, setting up home in the Perigord, told from the perspective of one of Siorac's sons. It's an interesting story of life in the period and of the history of the times, though it's told from a strictly male perspective and the fema ...more
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Book 1, The Brethren, Robert Merle has written an intensive historical novel set in France during one of its most turbulent periods. In 16th century France, battle rages between the Huegenots and the Catholics with murderous results from both sides. At the heart of the story are two compelling protagonists - Siorac and Sauvterre who try to hide their Protestant roots from the world as they amass their fortune. They swore an oath to become brothers, hence the title of the first book - The Bret ...more
This is one of those books that has sat on my to-read shelf for a wee whike now, and having finally got around to reading it I wish I'd done so sooner. This is a properly old school historical adventure novel in the same family as the novels of Dumas, Druon and Hope. There are even shades of Stendhal here in the style of writing and form of story.
Set during the religious wars of 16th century France, this is the story of a Huguenot family building a place for themselves in the Perigord. It is a
E Vikander
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Brethren begins the saga of the Siorac family set in the Perigord region of France during the Reformation. The tumultuous struggle between Catholicism and emerging Protestantism is the backdrop within which this story enfolds. With a steady pace, and narrated by the younger son Pierre, the author tells the story of a family that endures warfare, plague, drought, and the challenges of daily living in the late 1500s, while exploring the depths of their conflicting faith. The author’s use of th ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest insight into the French wars of religion and the uneasy political and social environment they created. The individual character drama is well paced and illuminating. There are chapters covering the greater political doings that are of a lesser quality excluding needed centering of historical personages, but much comings and goings. The resulting confusion during the non-fiction sections could be due to a familiarity the French reader may have with these cultural characters that I am not b ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
European Historical Fiction 1 3 Jul 24, 2017 05:32AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • La pierre et le sabre
  • Le Grand Cœur
  • La flor de lis y el león (Los Reyes Malditos, #6)
  • Je, François Villon
  • Das Glücksprojekt. Wie ich (fast) alles versucht habe, der glücklichste Mensch der Welt zu werden
  • The Chatelet Apprentice
  • The Indiscreet Jewels
  • La Reine Margot, Tome I
  • La Tempête
  • Der Trümmermörder (Frank Stave, #1)
  • Aphrodite
  • Dschinnland (Die Sturmkönige, #1)
  • The Country Waif (Francois Le Champi)
  • Young Henry of Navarre
  • Lorenzaccio
  • Les Filles du feu - Les Chimères
  • Contes de la Bécasse
See similar books…
Born in Tebessa located in ,what was then, the French colony of Algeria. Robert Merle and his family moved to France in 1918. Merle wrote in many styles and won the Prix Goncourt for his novel Week-end à Zuydcoote. He has also written a 13 book series of historical novels, Fortune de France. Recreating 16th and 17th century France through the eyes of a fictitious Protestant doctor turned spy, he w ...more

Other books in the series

Fortune de France (1 - 10 of 13 books)
  • En nos vertes années
  • Paris, ma bonne ville
  • Le Prince que voilà
  • La violente amour
  • La Pique du jour
  • La Volte des vertugadins
  • L'Enfant Roi
  • Les Roses de la vie
  • Le lys et la pourpre
  • La Gloire et les Périls