• Powers and Thrones

  • A New History of the Middle Ages
  • By: Dan Jones
  • Narrated by: Dan Jones
  • Length: 24 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (1,161 ratings)

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Powers and Thrones

By: Dan Jones
Narrated by: Dan Jones
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Publisher's Summary

"Not only an engrossing read about the distant past, both informative and entertaining, but also a profoundly thought-provoking view of our not-really-so-‘new’ present . . . All medieval history is here, beautifully narrated . . . The vision takes in whole imperial landscapes but also makes room for intimate portraits of key individuals, and even some poems."—Wall Street Journal

"A lively history . . . [Jones] has managed to touch every major topic. As each piece of the puzzle is placed into position, the modern world gradually comes into view . . . Powers and Thrones provides the reader with a framework for understanding a complicated subject, and it tells the story of an essential era of world history with skill and style."—The New York Times

The New York Times bestselling author returns with an epic history of the medieval world—a rich and complicated reappraisal of an era whose legacy and lessons we are still living with today.

When the once-mighty city of Rome was sacked by barbarians in 410 and lay in ruins, it signaled the end of an era—and the beginning of a thousand years of profound transformation. In a gripping narrative bursting with big names—from St Augustine and Attila the Hun to the Prophet Muhammad and Eleanor of Aquitaine—Dan Jones charges through the history of the Middle Ages. Powers and Thrones takes listeners on a journey through an emerging Europe, the great capitals of late Antiquity, as well as the influential cities of the Islamic West, and culminates in the first European voyages to the Americas.

The medieval world was forged by the big forces that still occupy us today: climate change, pandemic disease, mass migration, and technological revolutions. This was the time when the great European nationalities were formed; when the basic Western systems of law and governance were codified; when the Christian Churches matured as both powerful institutions and the regulators of Western public morality; and when art, architecture, philosophical inquiry and scientific invention went through periods of massive, revolutionary change.

The West was rebuilt on the ruins of an empire and emerged from a state of crisis and collapse to dominate the world. Every sphere of human life and activity was transformed in the thousand years covered by Powers and Thrones. As we face a critical turning point in our own millennium, Dan Jones shows that how we got here matters more than ever.

©2021 Dan Jones (P)2021 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“Despite the immensity of the task, renowned historian Jones makes the 1,000-year history of the Middle Ages accessible and utterly fascinating. He does so by consistently applying two techniques, strategic use of primary source material and relatable comparisons to modern times.... The book’s subtitle includes the word new, and deservedly so. This is a refreshing take on a long, complex period in the human story.” (Booklist) 

“This gripping history manages to bring novelty to a well-trod subject, spanning the Dark Ages and the globe. Traversing crises and empires and shedding new light on famous subjects, this archive of a fascinating time enthralls till the final page.” (Newsweek)

“Jones covers 1,000 years of world history in this entertaining chronicle of the period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the Protestant Reformation. Throughout, Jones displays flashes of humor and reveals unexpected links between events and figures.... This richly detailed history will appeal to aficionados and newcomers alike.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

What listeners say about Powers and Thrones

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  • Overall
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not as good as Jones' other works.

I've listened to all of Dan Jones' works. Enjoyed all. One of my favorite authors. However, this one smacks a little too much of the "woke" nonsense gripping our country today. In this work Christians are always in the wrong and Muslim atrocities are typically overlooked as are Aztec human sacrifices. Not a bad book, but be aware of the author's liberal biases.

45 people found this helpful

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Hard to take a break from it!

I have listened to this audio book almost nonstop for the past week. It is a very interesting narrative that turns almost addictive!

12 people found this helpful

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Well Written and Performed, but Biased

This is a really interesting and well written book, lots of detail but keeps moving and not getting boring. The narrator has a great voice, infusing measured energy into the story, one of the best narrators I’ve heard.

10 people found this helpful

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So Good

Dan Jones does it again. And impressively researched title that covers a large swath of history. Writing done this well spanning such a long period of history is not an easy thing to do, but Dan dies so flawlessly.

9 people found this helpful

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1000 Years of Who Killed Who When

This book hops from one to another of who was Caesar when Huns, Germans, Goths or plague killed some people. I learned nothing of interest about the people or the events of the late Roman Empire.

7 people found this helpful

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another fine book by this author

I have listened to a number of books by this author, perhaps all of his works. I don't think this is the best of the lot, but it is still an excellent listen. I would have liked to hear more of the recent discoveries regarding the effect of climate on various periods, as this is a very interesting addition to the normal narrative history of the eras.

I thought the Mongol section was a bit thin, given how extensive and impactful the effect of the Mongol expansion was.

The Middle Ages is probably too big a topic to cover in the space he has given himself to write this book. A multi-volume treatise is probably necessary. Still, as a quick romp through the period, touching on the bigger events, it is worth listen.

7 people found this helpful

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Perfect History For Those In A Hurry

Covering the Middle Ages from the fall of the Roman Empire in the west to the age of discovery Dan Jones covers an amazing amount of European history in just a few hours.
Highly recommend for anyone looking for a good intro to the Middle Ages

6 people found this helpful

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Another great book from Dan Jones

Dan Jones has a gift for laying out history’s sweep in a clear way than makes 1,000 years fly by.

Recommended for anyone who loves history and wants a comprehensive view of the Middle Ages and their legacy in our own time.

5 people found this helpful

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Quick history

Not a bad book by far but continuous use of street and internet slang make it a poor second to The War of the Roses and others by the same author.

5 people found this helpful

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Another great Dan Jones audiobook

I'm a huge fan of Dan but was a little skeptical about how he could cover approximately 1000 years while keeping the historical events interesting and telling stories of individual characters. Well, I pleasantly surprised by this book. It's full of fantastic glimpses of ordinary humans during the Middle Ages and how they lived through, and sometimes died because of, many of the same things that we are facing today. Given the large span of history he covered, I thought that the pace and flow was perfect and of course, Dan is the absolute best person to narrate his books. I'm looking forward to the next one!

4 people found this helpful