The Importance of Pawns by Keira Morgan begins as Anne of Brittany, Duchess of Brittany and Queen of France, lays dying. After two marriages to Kings of France and many lost children, she’ll leave behind two young daughters. Her daughters will be unable to inherit the throne of France, which operates under salic law, but the Duchy of Brittany has no such law, making her daughters rich heiresses and indeed pawns. Desperate to keep Brittany separate from France, Anne tries to make her younger daughter Renee the next Duchess of Brittany, knowing that her elder daughter Claude will marry her cousin, the future King Francis I of France.
Tensions rise between Francis’ mother Louise and the Princesses’ protectress Michelle as Claude struggles to make her own voice heard.
The Importance of Pawns brings the French court to life in an excellent manner. Having visited many of the Châteaux described in the book certainly helped me imagine the scenes, but even if you haven’t been there, the atmosphere is still there. I felt for Anne as she lay dying, fervently wishing for Brittany’s independence, and I felt for Claude as she fell hopelessly in love with a man who would never love her back. I really enjoyed this book, and I think I may slowly be recovering from my dislike for historical fiction. If you’re looking for an escape into the French royal court, do buy this book.