Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 - 1901: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle Collection 2: 1702 – 1901: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sometimes have the feeling that I end up praising literature too often, and this one here again makes me want to crown this work with all the laurels one could. It’s not even that it’s perfect, but there’s a lot more that ‘This Sceptred Isle’ does well than poorly, and it does so with good style. Frank Bridge’s opening music is a good example; by the end of this series I was definitely humming along every time another chapter started. Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 2, Christopher Lee”

Ordensburg Keikael (Keila)

An ordensburg is much the same as a bischofsburg, just for the Order and not a Bishop. The Order in this case is the Livonian branch of the Teutonic Order who took Keila over when the old owners decided they had enough and could sell the place. The Order was quite appreciative of this, and Keila’s importance grew considerably with this place becoming one of the most important castles near Tallinn (Reval) where a lot of the logistics was determined, also evidenced by the Order’s Komtur (Commander) of Tallinn living here.

Continue reading “Ordensburg Keikael (Keila)”

Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (2), Stephen Turnbull

Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (2): The stone castles of Latvia and Estonia 1185–1560Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (2): The stone castles of Latvia and Estonia 1185–1560 by Stephen Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this a bit more than the previous volume, mostly because Mr Turnbull had described the religious and organisatorial aspects of the Teutonic life and was able to input more about various episodes. Primarily, as the nature of the subject here is the Livonian chapter, these episodes concerned undertakings in the Northern Baltics but some were also relevant in light of the previous volume. Continue reading “Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (2), Stephen Turnbull”

Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1), Stephen Turnbull

Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1): The red-brick castles of Prussia 1230–1466Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1): The red-brick castles of Prussia 1230–1466 by Stephen Turnbull
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book provides a solid overview of the Northern European variety of castles along with plenty of the accompanying history (especially for someone whose knowledge of the history of these lands is very poor!) to get decently acquainted. Continue reading “Review: Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1), Stephen Turnbull”

Bischofsburg Hapsal (Haapsalu)

English regrettably lacks the term I was looking for here, or at least it’s clumsier than Bischofsburg: Episcopal Castle, so I’ve gone with the German term. I guess this comes from the fact that rarely were bishops there highest secular power in a region/area in the British Isles and so their construction efforts took the form of palaces and priories more than castles (North Elmham is a good exception but it’s still called ‘castle’ and it’s bishop was definitely subservient to the King with regards to secular folk in the Bishopric of Norwich). Continue reading “Bischofsburg Hapsal (Haapsalu)”

Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC - 1702: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC – 1702: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful history, a lot more complex than I would have expected from my first impressions. There were some good inconsistencies that get promoted quite often (such as “The Unready”) which this series also delightfully corrected. Furthermore, the show included a number of illustrative stories of the time (such as the dialogue between Edward I and Roger Bigod on each others’ rights). Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee”

Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams

In the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark AgesIn the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

High 2.5.

I think this work is too complicated to follow easily — it is not only a travelogue and narrative history but also stretches a bit into modern politics but more into archaeological descriptions. While individually all of these may be very enjoyable, the book was missing structure. Continue reading “Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams”

Review: ‘Syracuse 415–413 BC’, Nic Fields

Syracuse 415–413 BC: Destruction of the Athenian Imperial FleetSyracuse 415–413 BC: Destruction of the Athenian Imperial Fleet by Nic Fields
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the narrative here though I wish that Osprey standardised their anglicisation of Hellenic names from title to title. This book, however, provided fresh perspective on an angle of the Peloponnesian War and was quite informative throughout with plentiful quotes and commentary from primary sources. Continue reading “Review: ‘Syracuse 415–413 BC’, Nic Fields”

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