The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire that 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, Robin Hood, and the Knights Templar, the era of the Black Death, the Black Prince, the founding of Parliament, and the Hundred Years’ War.
©2012 Daniel Jones (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"Dan Jones’ The Plantagenets is outstanding. Majestic in its sweep, compelling in its storytelling, this is narrative history at its best. A thrilling dynastic history of royal intrigues, violent skullduggery, and brutal warfare across two centuries of British history." (Simon Sebag Montefiore, New York Times best-selling author)
"The Plantagenets played a defining part in shaping the nation of England, and Dan Jones tells their fascinating story with wit, verve, and vivid insight. This is exhilarating history - a fresh and gloriously compelling portrait of a brilliant, brutal, and bloody-minded dynasty." (Helen Castor, prize-winning author of She-Wolves)
"This is history at its most epic and thrilling. I would defy anyone not to be right royally entertained by it." (Tom Holland, prize-winning author)
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
This is one of those great overview books where you get enough of the story to be engaged, but you're also left wanting more. In short, my kind of history book. I love these kinds of launch pads into deeper research. Without a book like this, the in-depth works keep the reader on the outside. A work like this helps a person to do so much more than tread water; it makes history accessible to everyone. This is not my first dip into the Plantagenet history, but it is the first time I've had it delivered cohesively and linearly. What a difference that makes, putting it all into persective! Now I can read these longer stories about Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I, and so on with a far better understanding of how it all fits together.
Clive Chafer's narration... I have really mixed feelings about. I want so much to give him high marks. The man has an incredibly fantastic voice, the kind of voice you wish you could have so as to impress others. The problem is that his inflection and overall delivery comes across, and I hate to say this, as a parody of a BBC newscaster. Anyone remember those Monty Python skits where Eric Idle would read the news? It's that sort of thing, only with a more authoritative voice and no punchline. His cadence is very similar to this as well, where he's very "radio announcer" instead of being conversational or documentary narrative as it needs to be, and it's repetative. Let me attempt to illustrate this. You remember when your teacher first introduced you to Shakespeare and iambic pentameter, and that rhythm (da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM) was plugged in to stay for the rest of your life? Chafer isn't doing that exactly, but there is a cadence there in regard to his vocal inflection that will make itself known within just a few minutes of listening, and it goes like that to the end of the book. Maybe that's just how I'm hearing it, but if you do pick up this title - and it's well worth your credit to do so - you can judge for yourself and tell me if I'm just way off base. Based on other reviews, it seems I'm in the minority here.
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
This was a period in English history where I had some glancing familiarity with key moments (mostly via Shakespeare, A Lion in Winter, Robin Hood, etc.) but no appreciation of the details or how it links together. As a result, I found the book fascinating, as it managed to give a very detailed, but still fairly fast-moving, overview of the Plantagenet era. Even more than the great biographic details, I appreciated the way that Jones managed to communicate how different the ideas of government were in the Middle Ages, and the ways in which rule and misrule led to the evolution of modern ideas.
There are a few quirks to the book that keep in from being a five-star listen. First, this is a narrative, and not a historical discussion, so while not necessarily ignoring debates over particular events, Jones tends to present an authoritative view, ignoring alternatives (like discussions over the relationship between Edward II and Piers Gaveston). This feeds into the second issue, which is that the author clearly has some strong ideas of what good kingship is like, and the result is a slight tendency to justify the less savory actions of some rulers that he likes, while being less forgiving of other monarchs. Finally, the narrative itself is a bit odd, since the author slides between occasional first-person segments ("Richard approached the gates of the city...") and the majority of the book, which is written as a historian. None of these are fatal flaws, but they, combined with the length of the book, did make it drag a little at points.
Overall, though, a great, well-read history of a period I did not know a lot about. I found it illuminating, and would recommend it strongly to anyone interested in the history of government, England, or the Middle Ages.
still tilting at windmills, after all of these years.
... but listen carefully to the audio sample to see if the style of reading is to your taste. the narrator ends every single sentence with the same emphasis. another reviewer mentions this predictable cadence which, to me at times during the 20 hours of listening, became a distraction.
in all, the book is well-written and worth a credit, but i suspect the narrration may be off-putting to some.
This is not light historical reading. It is a masterful, scholarly work filled to the brim with details and research. If you have a voracious appetite for facts and historical anecdotes, this book is for you. Being an audio book, some of the names and places may confuse listeners not familiar with the history of medieval England and France, but it is nonetheless worthy of a listen and will indefinitely prompt the curious to do some research on one's own, outside of the book, in order to further enrich the experience.
Amazing attention to detail. Well-researched, tightly written work.
Clive Chafer reads with such clarity and fluency that one would be hard pressed to find a better reader for a historical work.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
I would. Even though it only goes through Henry IV, it brings such detail to their lives. I loved the understanding it gave me on their lives and reigns. Excellent history.
I loved Eleanor of Aquitane and also John. My husband is related to these two and the story made John more human than any other book I have ever read about him. He really helped the poorer people and it was the wealthy barons who hated him. I think it was a case of the winners re-writing history again.
I don't think so. He has a fine voice and is an excellent narrator for a history of this type.
No, I wanted to savor it and take the kings and queens a little at a time. That way I remember more of their individuality.
I love a great history book and was thrilled with this one. The Plantagenets lived over sized lives on a world stage. Wonderful!
A true Masterpiece.
I have no idea why this book has anything less than straight 5 stars. It is a very readable, compulsively addictive, in-depth story of the kings and queens who were the early ruling class: the Plantagenets.
If you want something as a quick beach read, go back to Phillipa Gregory. This is actual history, and amazingly the author does a fantastic job showing both the good and negative sides of each Plantagenet King (and one Queen).
This is historical NONFICTION, people.
I think it's exceptional, and I eagerly look forward to Jones' next book. As for Narrator, he is flawless!! The negative reviews shok me!
If you have a brain and are interested in the Plantagenets (early English kings beginning with Henry I and part of the war of the roses, with the Lancastrians) this is the best treatment of the subject on audible! Hands down!!
Well worth listening to because the book is packed with factual information about the Plantagenet kings. It's a history lesson and straightened out the whole thing for me by having them one after another and putting them in context. I'm on to read his book on the War of the Roses now.
The voice of narrator is monotonous and rhythmically lulling. I would imagine he sounds better to British ears, but to American ears he is hard to attend. I forced myself because the subject was so interesting, but it was not the most pleasant experience I have had with an audiobook.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
I have long wanted to get the audible version of one of my favorite historical novels, "Katherine" (Anya Seton), but decided I should brush up on my Plantagenet history first since I get some of this period confused. I couldn't have asked for a better, more interesting overview. Dan Jones hits the highlights of each of the kings and this presentation done in precise linear fashion makes it very easy to follow. I did find that keeping a family tree handy on my computer helped, but this was not difficult to follow in spite of the fact that the same 3 or 4 male and female names were used by those people over and over. (Keep wanting to holler back 800 years and suggest someone throw in a Tammy or a Larry!) One of the biggest reasons I used to get confused is that at about the 4th Matilda and the 3rd Edward, my brain wants to wander, but this book kept me plugged in the whole time. I was not thrilled with Clive Chafer's highly declarative style of reading - as one reviewer aptly put it, Chafer's delivery is more suited to a broadcaster than a narrator. However, the material is so interesting, I didn't get too hung up about the narrator. I will definitely read Jones' next book, "The War of the Roses", as soon as I finish my beloved "Katherine".
I found the narration tedious and distracting, but at least I have learned to avoid this particular narrator in future, and buy the book instead! Just sorry I tried to listen several times instead of returning it within the time frame.
I wish I had read all the reviews, and listened to the sample before I bought it, as at least one reviewer advised. After several attempts to listen, I plan on deleting this from my library and putting the book on my Christmas list, because it's about a period in which I am interested. That's why overall and story are worth 4 stars, and performance receives two for
From the beginning of the Plantagenet Dynasty thru the end of the reign of Richard, the history of the Plantagenet’s is simply riveting. These leaders, though called Kings of England, were actually French Norman until well into the 14th Century. The marriage alliances, the intrigues, the betrayals, the pure brutality, the military campaigns, the plagues and ultimately the advances towards modern day governing all contribute to make this a fascinating book. The Kings and leaders were certainly not gentle people, yet many of actions they took played a significant role in how England, and ultimately Europe developed into what it is today. I guess I thought there was more National identity during these times than there actually seemed to be – the spheres of influence were in actuality more aligned with ruling families than nationalistic. Most of the coastal areas of modern day France were frequently under the rule of the Plantagenet Kings, until nearly the 15th century. Through each ensuing reign, you can see small advances in curbing the ultimate power of the Kings to the point of removing later Kings Edward II and Richard II. And while the Kings power was slowly being curtailed, the power of the legislative part of Government slowly grew – from the inception of the Magna Carta during King John’s reign until the removal of King Richard II. If you enjoy History of the middle Ages you will enjoy this book. Well worth the credit.
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