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Robert Merle (1908-2004) was born in French Algeria, before moving to mainland France in 1918. Originally an English teacher, Merle served as an interpreter with British Expeditionary Force during the Second World War, and was captured by the German army at Dunkirk, the experience of which served as the basis for his Goncourt-prize-winning Weekend at Zuydcoote. He published the 13 volumes of his hugely popular Fortunes of France series over four decades, from 1977 to 2003, the final volume appearing just a year before his death in 2004.
The best so far Sunday Times Culture magazine A powerfully accessible path of introspection and questioning of the present through the past. Bookanista This is the most absorbing of the series so far... each volume may be built like a mouse brick to look at but it's not at all brick like in the reading. Book bag If you remember reading and loving Alexandre Dumas then this continues in the same vein... sword-slashing action The Connexion Merle's writing style is entertaining, easy to read and well-paced... thought-provoking yet thrilling swashbucklers - and immensely good fun Historical Novel Society Modern-day Dumas finally crosses the channel Observer Swashbuckling historical fiction... For all its philosophical depth [The Brethren] is a hugely entertaining romp... The comparisons with Dumas seem both natural and deserved and the next 12 instalments [are] a thrilling prospect -- Christobel Kent Guardian A sprawling, earthy tale of peril, love, lust, death, dazzling philosophical debate and political intrigue... an engrossing saga Gransnet Historical fiction at its very best... This fast paced and heady brew is colourfully leavened with love and sex and a great deal of humour and wit. The second instalment cannot be published too soon. We Love This Book A vivid novel by France's modern Dumas... [there is] plenty of evidence in the rich characterisation and vivid historical detail that a reader's long-term commitment will be amply rewarded Sunday Times A master of the historical novel Guardian Both wise and audacious, constantly nudging up against the extraordinary. The New York Times Book Review So rich in historical detail... the characters are engaging Sunday Express This is old-fashioned story-telling. It has swagger and, vibrancy with big characters... A gripping story with humour and strength and real attention to historical detail Mature Times Cleverly depicts France's epic religious wars through the intimate prism of one family's experience. It's beautifully written too. Metro The spectacular 13-volume evocation of 16th-17th-century France Independent A lively adventure... anyone keen on historical fiction [should] look forward to the next instalment Telegraph The Dumas of the twentieth century Neues Deutschland A wonderful, colourful, breathlessly narrated historical panorama Zeitpunkt Robert Merle is one of the very few French writers who has attained both popular success and the admiration of critics. The doyen of our novelists is a happy man Le Figaro