5 of 5 stars
The Making of England 4
Historical Fiction England, Crusades
King Henry II reigns over a vast empire that stretches the length of Britain and reaches the foothills of the Pyrenees. But he is aging, and his powerful and ambitious sons are restless.
Henry’s third son, Richard of Aquitaine, is developing a fearsome reputation for being a ruthless warrior. Arrogant and conceited he earns the name Richard Lionheart for his bravery and brutality on the battlefield.
After the death of his brothers, Richard’s impatience to take the throne, and gain the immense power that being King over a vast empire would bring him, leads him to form an alliance with France.
And so Richard begins his bloody quest to return the Holy Land to Christian rule.
I was, I must admit, more than a little sad to have come to the end of this series (what do you call one more than a trilogy?). I’ve grown to rather like Stewart Binns’ style and the sheer audacity of what he’s tried to do here. A history of the formative years, decades, of ‘England’ the land and the idea as we know it today from our history lessons.
The term ‘Lionheart’ has gone down in that there history, and so much so, that it maybe has lost some of its significance. Most people could probably add ‘Richard, The…’ before ‘Lionheart’, but how much more do we know? I knew a little, but not much. Now, I know a whole lot more. About the man, as far as history can tell us about his personality, his background, his reasoning and most importantly, his place at the heart of forming English history. Binns does an excellent job in showing his early years, his coming to power and the changes that brought to the character of the man. A really fine job.
The book, as said, continues in the same vein as the first three, with an easily digestible and flowing style of writing. Again, and given his writerly background, you can imagine that it is all soundly researched, maybe a few liberties here and there, but all fits in rather well. It probably couldn’t be taught as History in schools, but youngsters would still get a good grasp of the overall picture of the period by reading these books. And, I would imagine the Hist Fic purists would not look too kindly on this sort of thing – mostly the Indie ones, who seem to think THEIR research is better than everyone else’s, have you noticed that? Anyway, if you can, get hold of the whole series from the start and go through it all, you’ll never get a better over view of how England and the English came to be and came to be as we are.
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