Sunday, April 03, 2011

Royal Pains - Leslie Carroll

Royal Pains
A Rogue’s Gallery Of Brats, Brutes, And Bad Seeds
Leslie Carroll


Everyone loves to read about a good scandal, especially when the actors are the most powerful/wealthy people in the world.

This is no dry recitation of historical fact. The writing style is conversational, almost chatty, and breezes along through each narrative. No prior historical knowledge is required, as the author helpfully provides background and dates to ground each historical person. History buffs should find this an entertaining read, too, since the author takes care to separate fact from fiction, and also corrects some common misconceptions about those covered.

The book begins with King John (the nasty guy from the Robin Hood tales) and his tale sets the tone. He was undeniably a complete pain and a horrible person in some ways. In others, he laid the foundations that allowed modern English society to evolve. Vlad the Impaler, who served as the inspiration for Dracula; Ivan the Terrible of Russia; and King Richard III are obvious inclusions here. Still, each gets evenhanded treatment while dealing with even the nastiest of rumors and facts.

The most surprising inclusion (to me) was Princess Margaret, who died in 2002. Let’s be honest: her sins pale in comparison to someone like Elizabeth Bathory. But it’s all entertaining and informative. I think I might have learned a thing or two, accidentally of course, during the book. Readers of historical fiction will enjoy this on its own. For those with more scholarly leanings, there’s a truly great bibliography of other resources included. 

Rating: 8
March 2011
ISBN# 978-0-451-23221-2 (trade paperback)


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