Madame Serpent: Catherine de Medici, #1 — Jean Plaidy

So.  Madame Serpent.

Catherine de Medici, according to this novel, was, like pretty much every other girl from a prominent family in this period¹:  she was raised to be a bargaining chip.  So she was trained, at a very young age, in the art of the poker face.

According to Jean Plaidy, that calm exterior hid a heart and mind that were willing to love, passionately passionate, and desperately unhappy.

The verdict: Fascinating lady, fascinating people, fascinating times.  The actual action sequences — and by action sequences, I mean the parts WHERE STUFF ACTUALLY HAPPENED, not, like, explosions and such — were really entertaining.

HOWEVER.

I suspect that, before the death of her husband, not a whole lot was really known about Catherine’s machinations — because, other than the aforementioned action, this book was about 250 pages of Catherine thinking OH, WOE, I CARRY SO MUCH LOVE FOR MY HUSBAND, WHO DOESN’T LOVE ME BECAUSE HE LOVES THAT BITCH DIANE DE POITIERS.  I WILL POISON HER.  NO, NO I WON’T.  NOT OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF MY HEART, BUT BECAUSE EVERYONE WILL KNOW I WAS BEHIND IT EVEN THOUGH EVERYONE THINKS I AM STUPID.  NOW I WILL WATCH THEM HAVE THEIR SEXY TIME THROUGH THIS HOLE I HAVE DRILLED INTO MY BEDROOM FLOOR.

Seriously.  250 pages.  While it had to’ve been hell to live through, it didn’t make for very entertaining reading.

I do, however, have high hopes for the next two books in the trilogy — because, from what I understand, that’s when Catherine really starts throwing her weight around.

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While reading Jean Plaidy’s Madame Serpent

…I discovered a torture device that was new to me¹.

The guy — who was being interrogated about the sudden death of the Dauphin — gets his legs and feet crushed by The Boot².

UGH.

THEN, as if that wasn’t enough, he gets drawn and quartered.  (Apparently, even though Count Montecuccoli confessed (because confessions under torture are oh-so-trustworthy), François III may have actually died of tuberculosis.)

And Catherine hasn’t even STARTED poisoning people yet.

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¹Not that I’m hugely well-versed in torture devices.  But I have seen a lot of horror movies, so… you know.  I’ve picked things up.  And there was that very first episode of Wire in the Blood.  SQUICK.  Love that show, but WOW.  I totally understand why some people were unable to keep watching.  (Though they’re missing out.  Robson Green, mmmmmm.)

²While I was reading up on that, I discovered the existence of the show Surviving History, which sadly only lasted one season.  It sounds like a pretty awesome premise, though maybe not for the super-squeamish.