The Castle of Kings
In his novel, The Castle of Kings, Oliver Pötzsch depicts the tumultuous time during the 1524 peasant’s revolt in what is now Germany, brought about by a combination of their harsh treatment by overlords and Martin Luther’s challenge to the church, which was whipping the populace into a frenzy.
Pötzsch has clearly done his research for this book. His knowledge of German medieval history is impressive, and his settings are vivid and well-drawn. The reader is able to get a very detailed mental image of life in a crumbling castle and its surroundings.
Though the first book moves at a slower pace than the second, it is necessary to develop the characters and relationships between them fully. The friendship and eventual romance between Agnes, the daughter of Philipp von Erfenstein, Trifels Castle’s knight castellan and Mathis, son of a journeyman blacksmith, hold the entire plot together. Though they are separated because of their difference in social class, an unwanted marriage, and the revolt of the peasants, the reader lives in hope that in the end they will find each other again.
If you are a fan of historical fiction set in Germany, this will be a satisfying read. Though not as well formed as the novels in his Hangman’s Daughter series, fans of Pötzsch will not be disappointed.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Oliver Pötzsch, translated by Anthea Bell