Review: Louis XIV, Olivier Bernier

Rating: 3 out of 5

This was an interesting departure — I’ve rarely read anything Francophilic for the Grand Alliance period, and my previous familiarity with the Sun King derived from M Alexandre Dumas. This, here, is a story of an entirely different kind though the legendary captain of musketeers does get mentioned once. 

I enjoyed the story thoroughly and the large number of eye-witness accounts which were drawn upon added colour and depth to the narrative. However, it is this very same large primary source reliance which perturbed me in this work. There was no substantive overview in one place of what works would be consulted and for a book which relied on quotations for, quite possibly, a half of its volume, that sounds slack to me. Instead, we run from one person’s view into another with the author’s comments on them being limited to a very few words.

As such, what we don’t get is M Bernier’s biography on the Sun King but rather M Bernier’s edited letters of the Sun King’s reign. These two are not quite the same though they sound similar, but nevertheless the life and rule of this monarch come through nicely. I would recommend this book, but be aware that you will be reading a very disjointed work that needs a lot of analysis to comprehend.

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