Review: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

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Upon receiving a copy of The Plantagenets, I first read the press sheet that came with it, which described the book like this:

The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world. We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights. This is the era of chivalry, of Robin Hood and the Knights Templar, the Black Death, the founding of Parliament, the Black Prince, and the Hundred Year’s War. It will appeal as much to readers of Tudor history as to fans of Game of Thrones.

Of course, with the popularity of GoT, and my love for the books, I was eager to start reading. The book opens with a shipwreck to set the stage. In total, the book covers the history of English Kings beginning with the White Ship disaster which killed Henry I’s son William (and pretty much ended the Norman dynasty) and ends with Henry Bollingbrook’s invasion and usurping of the throne from Richard II.

The book is written in a reader-friendly style and can be absorbed by all audiences. While I enjoy history and the intricacies of the politics that bring families to power, I hardly know everything, and cannot speak to the historical accuracies of the book. The book is engaging, and somewhat of a royal rollercoaster.

It is important to note, for those who may wish to read this book, that it’s primarily written about kings, war, and diplomacy. It does not lend too much of an insight into the day-to-day life of medieval England. That said, with the facts laid out, the author’s writing style will keep you engaged. The book, covering several hundred years of history, isn’t an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it isn’t boring by any stretch of the imagination.

Strong characters killed left and right, politics and power abound, and it’s definitely comparable to Game of Thrones in regards to those elements. I would recommend this book if you’re interested in history and what people will do to climb to power. It’s a great historical text!

One thought on “Review: The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England

  1. Since the books Game of Thrones is based upon were themselves inspired by the real history of medieval England and the War of the Roses in particular, it’s not a surprise to draw those comparisons. I once read that Martin himself was originally going to write a fictitious history that took place in that period (15th century England), but then later scrapped that in favor of simply doing what he did – a fantasy. I have always liked this period of history, so I’ll have to check this out 🙂

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