January marked the publication of the first ever English translation of Maurice Druon’s The King Without a Kingdom. Druon’s novel is a brilliant story of the disastrous, plague-ridden reign of a certain unfortunate and incompetent French king, John II, interestingly known to history as John ‘The Good’ and his equally naïve cardinal.
When Voyager decided to publish Maurice Druon’s terrific series of seven historical novels, linked by a doomed royal line, a family tree was needed, to illustrate the Capet dynasty.
Druon’s books are fiction, but all his characters are based on real people, and all the major events (battles, deaths, births, executions) are historical facts, so we needed to make sure that the family tree was historically accurate. Druon did a considerable amount of research when writing the books, and acknowledges the Bibliothèque nationale and the Archives de France in the early pages of his books in recognition of their help with the historical detail.
Following advice from historians, we included the birth and death dates of each historical figure, depending on their status at the precise date in history of the family tree. This involved some research and exclusion of characters and marriages which had not necessarily taken place yet. Still-born children were also not included – as this was a common occurrence during this time.
For each book in the Accursed Kings series, we picked a date for the family tree, based on the starting date of the events in the book. This was done so that the family tree doesn’t accidently reveal any spoilers – deaths, births or marriages – which take place in the book. The family tree evolves over the course of the seven books, becoming a visual representation of the progress of the Capet dynasty.
We devised an entirely new family tree for The King Without a Kingdom, depicting the Valois dynasty. The reasons for that can be found in the books themselves. We will say no more! Watch this space for the full story about how Maurice Druon’s books came back into print from Voyager‘s Publishing Director, Jane Johnson.
Check out Druon’s brilliant series of books here. For the full benefit, you can read the books in order, starting with The Iron King, and progressing through The Strangled Queen, The Poisoned Crown, The Royal Succession, The She-Wolf, The Lily and the Lion to the final book, The King Without a Kingdom.
This article is part of Backlist to the Future, the regular feature from HarperVoyager, letting you know about the brilliant titles which we are giving a new lease of life, from the Voyager vault.