on 31 August 2010
Roger Collins appears to know a lot about medieval Spain, but really tells little in this book. If you are looking for a university-type thesis then this book is right up your street, but if you like a book that actually tells you about the subject in an interesting and absorbing way, then don't buy this as it'll drive you to sleep.
Collins spends far too much time apologising to us, the readers, that there isn't evidence for this, that and the other. I lost count of the number of times he did that. I would rather he do this once in the foreward and then get on with trying to pull me into the subject rather than lecture me from a distance.
As someone who avidly reads history books of the type that Sir Stephen Runciman and John Julius Norwich write, and finding them absolutely spellbinding, this was a bad shock. Its dull, dry and passionless. I think Collins was far too worried about his own reputation in the academic circles to take any risk whatsoever in his manuscript, so plays it terribly safe. In doing so, he turns what could have been a really great period of history covering the demise of the Roman rule, the invasions of the Goths, Vandals and Sueves, and the Moorish invasion, into a flat, insipid drone.