Historical Fiction Done Right: Book Review of “A Castle of Kings”

By: Sanjana Chadive

Sprawling over 600 pages, A Castle of Kings, Oliver Potzsch’s 16th-century tale of love and adventure, will keep readers on the edge of their seats throughout the novel.

The protagonist of the story is sixteen-year-old Agnes von Erfenstein. The daughter of a German castle castellan, Agnes’s personality is the complete opposite of a typical woman of her time; sharp-tongued and inquiring, Agnes would rather spend time with her pet falcon than wear dresses and socialize with suitors.

Her best friend, Mathis Wielenbach, is the son of the castle smith. Mathis, rebellious and clever, has loved Agnus since she was a child. Agnes reciprocates his feelings; however, they cannot be together because his social status is lower than hers.

A Castle of Kings takes place during the 16th-century German Peasants’ War. This conflict began when peasants living in the Holy Roman Empire revolted against the noble electors.

    In the midst of the Peasants’ War, Agnes’s falcon obtains a mysterious ring. Soon after, Agnes begins having strange dreams. These dreams lead Mathus and her away from their home in Trifels Castle and into the center of the revolts. During this time, they will discover shocking revelations about themselves that may change their lives forever.

What makes A Castle of Kings so great, is the characterization. Potzsch takes ample time to flesh out the key players in this novel, making them seem like real people; readers will find themselves completely understanding the protagonists and antagonists actions.

Additionally, Potzsch meticulously develops the setting of the book. Due to the fact that A Castle of Kings takes place during a turbulent time period, he [Potzsch] does not shy away from describing the gritty details of the German Peasants War. The audience will feel as if they are truly living in a war-torn Germany.

Because the story occurs during a conflict that actually happened , Potzsch also needed to make sure he was historically accurate—and he was. He does not disregard any important details concerning the German Peasants War. For instance, in reality, the peasants’ motive for revolting was because they disliked the Catholic Church, which had a great presence in their land. This is  their reason for rising up against the electors in the novel as well.

Undoubtedly, A Castle of Kings is an action-packed and emotional journey that any history buff should begin at some point in their lives.

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