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Alfred Duggan

annis
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Post by annis » Sun July 7th, 2013, 12:31 am

Going back to Bohemund and Tancred, I see Jack Ludlow has also "done" them in his Crusades trilogy, a continuation of the Mercenaries trilogy I mentioned earlier. I haven't read this lot myself, but it would probably be fair to assume that the comments I made about Mercenaries would apply here as well.

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Kveto from Prague
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Leopards and Lillies

Post by Kveto from Prague » Sun July 7th, 2013, 7:45 pm

One of Duggan's great ones, this is set in England in 1217 in the end of King John's and the start of King Henry's reigns during a Norman revival in England as a great deal of Norman refugees came to make their fortunes.

Although Duggan has written many strong female characters, but this is the first novel that takes as its narrator a young 13 year old heiress to a castle named Margaret de Redvers. Don't let her age fool you, like all Duggan females she is intelligent and sharp, working well within her own world to protect her young son and his inheritance.

Her new husband, Falkes de Breaute, is the bastard son of a minor Norman who rises, completely through his own abilities, to become head of the mercenary crossbowers who win such renown in the battle of Lincoln and later a power in England. An interesting look at the way that chivalry was so limiting, as Falkes becomes the greatest knight in England, but his low birth, foreignness, and mercenary status mean that his knightly accomplishments are overlooked or attributed to more famous noble knights, such as William Marshal.

Margaret makes for a great narrator as her own character shines through, for better and worse. And don't skip ahead, there are quite a few surprises, but like many Duggan characters, we see that when you violate your own principles, the end begins.

Another classic.

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Antoine Vanner
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Duggan Variability

Post by Antoine Vanner » Tue July 9th, 2013, 8:39 pm

I'm always amazed by how variable Duggan is as regards quality and readability. Some of his books (e.g. Knight in Armour, Three's Company, Cunning of the Dove etc) are some of the best historical novels I've read, while other books can be turgid and unreadable (e.g. God and My Right, Founding Fathers etc). I can see no pattern in this as regards subject matter, period etc. Has anybody got any ideas about this?

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EC2
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Post by EC2 » Wed July 10th, 2013, 12:31 am

I must admit I found The Cunning of the Dove turgid and underwhelming. It's a while since I read it, but I wasn't inspired to read more Duggan after that outing.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Kveto from Prague
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Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat August 17th, 2013, 11:26 am

That's a pity, EC. I haven't read it, but many Duggan fans consider "cunning" and "God and my right" to be his poorest books. I'm not interested in the subject matter, so I doubt I'll ever try it.
Last edited by Kveto from Prague on Sat August 17th, 2013, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kveto from Prague
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Lord Geoffrey's Fancy

Post by Kveto from Prague » Sat August 17th, 2013, 11:46 am

Chronologically, this is the latest setting that Duggan has in any book, the mid-13th century. However, it is the location that makes this tale interesting. Set in the Crusader Kingdom of Greece in the century following the first fall of Constantinople, I can't recall any HF set in this unique time and place, the Latin kingdom of Byzantium.

I've always enjoyed reading about lands and peoples that no longer exist (like the kingdom of Oultremer) so this one is of particular interest. After the conquest, the French and Italian knights set up a chivalrous kingdom in the heart of old Byzantium. The most interesting aspect of the book is the interplay of the Frankish lords, the conquered Greeks (called Grifons), the Slavs (Esclavons) and the Turks. Multifacsited political dealings with constant changes in alliance. The Franks are like many dying colonial powers, refusing to see the inevitable writing on the wall, that the Greeks will kick them out eventually, and thereby becoming more "chivalrous" to distinguish their way of life from the Byzantium.

The narrator is a likable English knight William, who attaches himself to lord Geoffery de Bruier, the greatest Knight in Romanie. He makes a good marriage to a half-Greek lady and has a relatively good beginning, especially compared to other Duggan narrators. His wife Melisandre is particularly interesting, being better versed in Mediteranian politics than William, who as least has the good sense to notice his wife is cleverer than he, and follow he advice. William has a naive view of the world seeing good and evil, right and wrong, whereas his wife looks at strengths and weaknesses.

But the main character is Lord Geoffrey, who fascinates with his charm, skill and nature. But is he the greatest living example of chivalry or a charismatic scoundrel? The book lets the reader decide, but it really shows how much people are willing to let charming people get away with.

Lord Geoffrey was an actual personage and his actions are represented faithfully, but obviously Duggan supplies his own motivations for the characters. A recommended look at a fleeting kingdom and a study of character as usual from the master.

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Kveto from Prague
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founding Fathers (Children of the Wolf)

Post by Kveto from Prague » Fri September 20th, 2013, 9:33 pm

the final book of my Duggan journey, (it should have been the first but I got it after I had started the project), I'm sorry to say is my least favourite Duggan novel.
Set at the founding of Rome, from King Romulus's murder of his brother to his own death (about 35 years), the book really fails to live up to its promise. It follows a number of characters who interact at differnt intervals, a Latin, An Etruscan, a Sabine, A greek, who all contribute to Romes cosmoploitan nature. It feels like a bit more of a time-slip novel with the changing character perspectives. I often like time slips but the story never really gains momentum for me.

Where the book is successful, it shows the chaotic nature of Rome's founding as well as the reasons why Rome was successful and other city-states were not. Namely the idea that these refuges could gain citizenship, that becoming a prize these outcasts could aspire to. As well as the city's merciful way of dealing with defeated foes, by incorporating them into the city itself reather than the usual ransacking/destruction.

the novel does hold a surprise of two but I found the story difficult to get in to, but it has its moments. I'd recommend other Duggan novels.

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