Monday, 26 November 2012

Review: The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, by Ian Mortimer

The book takes the unorthodox approach of writing in the present tense about Medieval England (which, for the purposes of this book, means the 14th century). As the writer states he intended, this helps to make the description of the past more immersive and sympathetic.

Mr. Mortimer writes of a wide range of areas and whilst there's enough depth to give a good feel for a certain topic (travelling, for example) the book is not burdened with excessive detail and is easy to read throughout.

The writing style is light and straightforward, and, despite not knowing much of this period, I never felt lost with strange technical terms. Whenever an odd term or one which has a different meaning in the modern world crops up it's explained simply and concisely.

The only slight issue I had in terms of information was that there was very little about the armour of knights, or suchlike. The book is about life in England rather than war overseas (or at home), but it still felt like a small missed opportunity.

As might be expected I found some chapters more interesting than others. Travel was not my favourite, but the description of the physical and wider social/psychological impact of plague was absolutely fascinating. At its best the book was absolutely enthralling, and the chapters (including law) that I found less appealing were nevertheless well-written.

Overall, the book paints an intriguing and enjoyable picture of what life was like about seven centuries ago. I'd recommend this to anyone who wants to read about life in the Middle Ages, regardless of whether they know any history beforehand.


No comments:

Post a Comment