We all struggle to spend our hard-earned entertainment budget wisely. There are certainly many things worse in life than making a misstep on this front, but it’s always nice when we get a little guidance from those with similar tastes.
In March, I had the good fortune to be guided by my favorite author, George RR Martin, to explore a seven-volume series I hadn't yet heard of. It’s always enlightening to explore the works that have inspired those who have, in turn, so deeply inspired me. So, I very eagerly ordered a copy of the first book in Maurice Druon’s series; The Accursed Kings.
The Accursed Kings (Maurice Druon)
“Pope Clement, Chevalier Guillaume de Nogaret, King Phillip, I summon you to the Tribunal of Heaven before the year is out, to receive your just punishment! Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation of your lines!” The haunting words of Jaques de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, as the flames of his funeral pyre consumed him set the tone for a tale for the ages. Burned at the stake in 1314 by the order of King Philip, Molay was the last of the Grand Masters of this ancient monastic order.
This series is the seven-volume telling of the fall of the Capetian dynasty and the very roots of the Hundred Years War. According to many, this is historic fiction at its finest! While I have only just finished reading the first book, The Iron King, and have eagerly dove into the second volume, I am already inclined to agree. The depth of character, political intrigue, and sense of historic immersion are incredible.
British publisher, Harper Collins, is planning on publishing all seven volumes in English. The seventh book has never before been offered as such. While there are no plans for a US edition of the books, through the power of the internet you too can partake in this fantastic series. Maybe we can even talk the Great Stories crew into making a few copies available for direct purchase. I’ll see what I can do.
Ten Grand (J. Michael Straczynski & Ben Templesmith)
Then there are other times when we just get lucky. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a comic I grabbed on impulse last week; Ten Grand #1 - “Blood Oath”. A great fusion of grit and the supernatural, this one caught me by surprise. You can even scan a QR code in the back of the book for an excellent audio performance of the story as you flip the pages. Even better still, there’s an alternate cover by Bill Sienkiewicz of Moon Knight fame (yep, I worked Moon Knight into my guest blog with minimal effort). So what’s the story here?
As mob enforcer, Joe Fitzgerald, laid dying and staring across the room at the corpse of Laura, the love of his life, he was offered a deal. Where he was going, he wouldn’t want her to follow. Where she was going he couldn’t follow. But, if Joe agrees to work for a mysterious and seemingly angelic force, he will be brought back to life again and again, with the promise that should he die a righteous death he will be given five minutes together with Laura. Would you endure an eternal cycle of pain and death, to be reunited with the one you love?
If that doesn’t whet your appetite, I’m not sure what will. This story has a lot of promise, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the arc. Ten Grand #2 - “Angels Never Lie”, is slated for a June 5th release.
Of course, if you haven’t yet read George RR Martin’s series A Song of Ice And Fire (The first book is A Game of Thrones), David Eddings’s Belgariad (The first book is Pawn of Prophecy), or Raymond Feist’s Faerie Tale, you’ve got some other amazing stories available to you as well and I'm only scratching the surface.
On the comics front, June looms, and then you can pick up Savage Wolverine #6 with artwork by the amazing Joe Madureira.
These are just a couple ideas on entertainment spending. But remember, your local library carries a veritable plethora of fantastic tales too. Take advantage of that! Nothing stretches your entertainment dollars more than enjoying so many options for free. And when you do purchase a book or movie with your hard-earned money, you can almost always donate it to your local library when you are done with it to further develop their catalogue.
So get reading, or better yet writing and drawing, and let us know what you would recommend!