Book number three of The Accursed Kings series. Last we left off, Louis X was still on the throne, his wife had just conveniently left the picture for him, and he was setting his eyes on Princess Clemence of Hungary. Louis had already shown himself to be a bumbling idiot of a king who cannot handle being wrong on anything, so let’s see how he continues to ruin his father’s legacy in this book.
In The Poisoned Crown, Louis successfully becomes betrothed and then, married to Princess Clemence of Hungary. Clemence thinks she is a pretty lucky lady, given that she is already 22 (an old age to be married at in those times, for a noble) and had thought she would end up going to a convent. However, she soon realizes being Queen of France doesn’t make her very happy and her husband isn’t as charming as he seems. Louis, continuing his streak of bad decisions, decides to go to war against Flanders, which ends disastrously.
In the meantime, Robert of Artois and Mahaut, Countess of Artois, are still arguing and bickering over lands like they have been since book one. This time, however, they have involved King Louis into the matter. Louis wants to resolve their differences peacefully, but is forced to pick sides when they refuse to relent in their accusations against one another. Mahaut is outraged at the conclusion and plots the downfall of King Louis.
I definitely liked this book better than the last one. The last one was centered on the rivalry between the Charles, the Count of Valois the Rector-General of the kingdom, Enguerrand Marigny, and was very political in nature, which is sometimes hard for a non-political person like me to understand, even though I did overall enjoy that book. This one is more about family ambitions, which is more up my alley. If you want pure family drama, this book is it.
Clemence is a new character introduced in this book. Even though she’s a solid goody-goody kind of girl, I liked her because she seemed to have an uncanny ability to bring out the best in others around her. And she is so innocent and sweet, no one would try to harm her. Of course, sometimes it was frustrating that she cannot see, or refuse to see, the ‘evil’ that is in the hearts of others. In such cases, it was a little frustrating having a character that’s so solidly in the “Good People” camp. However, I do hope that she and her baby will make it out of this story alright, considering what usually happens to the royal family in this series!
The most infuriating (and I say that in the best way possible) part of this novel is Mahaut, the Countess of Artois. I was like, “God damn it, just give your nephew [Robert of Artois] back some parts of his lands!!” And it’s not like I particularly like Robert that much either, but I do feel really bad that his inheritance got stolen by his greedy aunt. In the previous two books, she was merely an annoying old lady (to me, anyway), but in this book, she has definitely become more selfish. Her daughter was imprisoned a couple books ago, and instead of simply wishing for her safe return like any loving, caring mother would, she thinks about if her daughter is released, and is Louis dies with no heirs, her daughter could get a shot at being Queen of France (since she is married to Louis’ brother). What a strange way of thinking about things like this! Ugh, I hate Mahaut, I hope she meets her end soon (but I don’t want to Wikipedia her actual historical self to spoil things for myself, haha).
Definitely looking forward to the next one.