In 1524, in what is now Germany, hundreds of thousands of peasants revolt against the harsh treatment by their aristocratic overlords. Agnes, the daughter of one of these overlords, is not a typical 16th-century girl. She refuses to wear dresses and spends more time with her pet falcon than she does trying to attract potential suitors. In fact there is only one man who interests her: Mathis, a childhood friend, whom she can never marry because of his lowly birth. But the situation changes dramatically when a rogue knight attacks Agnes, Mathis shoots the knight to save her life, and the two are forced to go on the run together, into the midst of the raging peasants' war.
Over the next two years, as Agnes and Mathis travel the countryside, are captured by and escape from various factions of the war, participate in massive battles, and make new friends both noble and peasant, they also, of course, fall in love. Meanwhile, Agnes' falcon finds a mysterious ring, and Agnes begins having strange dreams that lead the two lovers to revelations about their place in the world and in the emerging German states.
With The Castle of Kings, Oliver Pötzsch has written a historical epic that calls to mind Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and Bernard Cornwell's Agincourt.
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Pillars of the Earth this isn't
This book was slow moving, not very engaging, and lacking the complexity you should reasonably expect out of a 665 page book. It had YA style plot elements complete with holes large enough to drive trucks through. This might be explained by the need to come up with a plot that fit the occurrences in history the author wanted to cover, but I cannot excuse him for it. In general this felt like a YA caliber book or fan fiction. It is touted as something akin to Princess Bride, Lord of the Rings, or Pillars of the Earth...my caveat here would be that those were good. The stories were engaging; you cared what happened to the characters. I found that these characters lacked depth and emotional presence and the only thing I wanted for them to do was stop shrieking each other’s names at in-opportune times. Agnes was supposed to be a heroine. She was terribly unfortunate, but not terribly heroic. The author's vocabulary is questionable with nonsense words thrown in and clunky descriptors here and there that could have been handled with more finesse.
When the bird took the lance at the end because I knew it had to be almost over.
Grudging determination to slog through it.
Something is lacking.
I'm almost finished this book, and I was sucked in at the beginning--I couldn't wait to listen to the next chapter! However, as the book goes on it gets quite dull, and the characters get very mundane. One big pet peeve I have so far with this book is Agnes and M--they're very immature and their "arguments" drive me insane. It's starting to feel like the characters were written by a thirteen year old who has never experienced a real relationship with real arguments.
I'm unsure at this point.
Not really. In fact, I have been wondering if I might have enjoyed the story more if I had simply read it, instead of listening to it. Ms Reading does not do that well of a job with this reading--either the characters sound too whiny or too similar; I'm not sure how to explain it but the reading makes the characters feel like they're lacking even more depth and growth.
It's an OK story--not grand, not memorable, just OK.