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Carpe Librum

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Review: The Plantagenets: Warrior Kings and Queens who made England by Dan Jones

The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England - Dan Jones

Dan Jones has done something with this book that is not usually achieved. He has taken almost three centuries of history and made them accessible and understandable to the non-historian. His style of narrative nonfiction was at times as captivating as any novel with brilliant analysis of what drove people to the roles that they played.

Beginning with the loss of the White Ship in 1120, Jones details the rise of the Plantagenets to power through Matilda, daughter of Henry I. Covering the war for supremacy between Matilda and Stephen would have seemed enough for some authors, but Jones takes on the charismatic kings all the way to the usurpation of Henry IV.

It is no small task to give adequate coverage to prolific characters such as Henry II, Richard I, Edward III, and all who came in between in one installment. Jones does so with just enough detail of each king to understand their reign without including so much as to overwhelm the reader who is looking for an overview of the dynasty.

This book ends with Henry IV taking power and initiating the divide in the monarchy that would become the Wars of the Roses, the subject of Jones' next book. That Richard II was a poor king is undoubted, but Henry of Bolingbroke could not have envisioned the course that he had set his family upon when he determined that right to kingship came from ability rather than solely bloodline.

This was very easy reading for such comprehensive nonfiction material. It is a book that I would not hesitate to recommend to someone who does not already have a foundation in Plantagenet history. I am eagerly moving on to the next installment: The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors (also sold as The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors).