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With Heretic Dawn, the third book in the series, now out, Commissioning Editor Daniel Seton explains why you should plunge yourself headlong into Fortunes of France... Were you raised on a diet of Hornblower? Are you a fan of Flashman? Is the wait for the final Wolf Hall novel too much to bear? Then I suspect our swashbuckling sixteenth-century saga, Fortunes of France, may be for you. When Robert Merle’s The Brethren was published in France in 1977, he had no idea that it was just the first volume in the Fortunes of France series, which would take him 26 years to complete, cover more than a century of French history, and become a much-loved classic. Originally conceived as a stand-alone novel, the book’s huge popularity (it sold more than a million copies) prompted Merle to write a sequel, and then a sequel to the sequel… and so on until the thirteenth and final volume was completed in 2003. Robert Merle worked for many years as an English teacher, and adored English literature, the influence of which is everywhere in his work. His colourful characters owe much to Dickens, while Thackeray’s The History of Henry Osmond originally inspired Merle to try his hand at a historical adventure. He even declared of Shakespeare: “For me, he is God!” Fortunes of France is a rich, pacey and gloriously colourful historical adventure story – a joy to read. The series tells the story of Pierre de Siorac, a young Huguenot nobleman, and follows his adventures as he tries to balance his competing loyalties, to his faith and king, during the bloody French Wars of Religion of the sixteenth century, which pitted Catholics and Protestants against each other and tore the country in two. The books are enormously enjoyable, full of swordplay and sex, but are also notable for their wonderful attention to historical detail and their philosophical depth. When he’s not in bed with his latest love interest or fighting off footpads in a darkened back-alley on his way home from a tavern, De Siorac is just as likely to be found discussing the value of tolerance over lunch with Michel de Montaigne. In fact, the need for tolerance and moderation is a central theme of these timely books, which are set during a historical period of great violence and political instability. Nothing distracts from the sheer pace and verve of the narrative however – Merle certainly knew how to tell a story, and this one races along as quickly as a young Huguenot with a lover’s angry husband in pursuit. We published The Brethren back in 2014, to rave reviews, and have since followed it up with City of Wisdom and Blood and Heretic Dawn. This third instalment in the Fortunes of France saga sees Pierre de Siorac travelling to Paris, where he becomes embroiled in personal and political intrigues at the royal court before the capital erupts in the communal violence of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, and he and his companions must fight for their lives. If you’ve been following the series, then don’t miss out on this latest adventure; if you’ve yet to begin, then what are you waiting for?!