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Riddle and the Knight: In Search of Sir John Mandeville [Kindle Edition]

Giles Milton
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1322 Sir John Mandeville left England on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Thirty-four years later, he returned, claiming to have visited not only Jerusalem, but India, China, Java, Sumatra and Borneo as well.

His book about that voyage, THE TRAVELS, was heralded as the most important book of the Middle Ages as Mandeville claimed his voyage proved it was possible to circumnavigate the globe.

In the nineteenth century sceptics questioned his voyage, and even doubted he had left England.

The Riddle and the Knight sets out to discover whether Mandeville really could have made his voyage or whether, as is claimed, THE TRAVELS was a work of imaginative fiction.

Bestselling historian Giles Milton unearths clues about the journey and reveals that THE TRAVELS is built upon a series of riddles which have, until now, remained unsolved.

Product Description


Milton is a great storyteller ... he sets about filling in the historical gaps with relish, using his considerable imagination to conjure mood from dry parchment (Sunday Express)

Grippingly told true adventure story (Daily Mail)

'Milton has a terrific eye for the kind of detail that can bring the past vividly to life'. (The Spectator)

Book Description

Bestselling author Giles Milton takes us on an extraordinary journey and uncovers the answer to one of greatest historical riddles

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1521 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; New Ed edition (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #152,833 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping tour of old eastern world 13 Aug. 2002
Bizarre reviews from the people who are down on this book - this is a wonderful read! Brilliant the way Milton has managed to get into places that others haven't, his description of his time at St Catherine's, Sinai, for example, is a revelation, and nobody reading this book could have doubts that Mandeville should be taken much more seriously than in the last hundred years. Milton appears to be able to get into places, and people's lives, in ways that others don't, and whilst this is a series of travellers tales, it very cleverly follows, and casts light on, Mandeville's life and travels. I found it particularly informative (and very moving) when describing the early church and it's numerous splits, schismatics and heresies, and their relationship with Islam; the way Milton sought out, and had conversations with, last survivors of these early times is just wonderful. At it's best, a really breathtaking book.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charlatan or Visionary? 13 April 2002
By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE
John Mandeville's writing of 1370 proved pivotal in the flurry of exploration that followed in the wake of 1492. His assertion that the world was a globe (flying in the face of accepted dogma) and that it was possible to travel by sea to the Far East, was THE incentive that drove the expeditions of hundreds of explorers and merchants.
Later, the book was ridiculed as hokum, but Giles Milton felt there were enough grains of truth in the manuscript to warrant more research, which he does in his usual comprehensive manner.
The result is a very readable unravelling of the mystery, shrouded as it was by the interfering pens of earlier 'editors'. Given the extent of the tinkering, we may never know the truth behind the 'Travels', but Mr milton uncovers enough evidence to show that Mandeville almost certainly DID travel to the Levant, but casts doubt on the veracity of his claims to have travelled to the Far East. The latter is understandably not well-researched, given the ambiguity of the literary data and lack of physical evidence, so only 4 stars.
However, in South America 300 years later, Drake describes strange people with almost identical characteristics to Mandeville's 'imaginary' creatures - are we being swayed by modern interpretations of medieval descriptions? We may never know, but this uncertainty and the nuggets of truth unearthed by Mr Milton's research in the Middle-East prompted me to order a copy of the 'Travels', so I could judge for myself whether Mandeville was an early Munchausen or a true visionary.
A worthwhile read to stimulate your imagination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off The Beaten Track 12 Nov. 2010
I have to admit that having seen the lower reviews and the higher reviews, I am fairly sure the former missed the point and the latter.........well, they evidently couldn't bring themselves to rate this book lower.

I have read a few of Giles Milton books and been very impressed with the effort he puts into each one. The others are carefully crafted accounts of points and people in history that have been ignored, and he injects some interest into each one. Big Chief Elizabeth, White Gold and Samurai William are unmissable.

This book concerns the travels of a Knight of the 1300s (Sir John Mandeville), but although the Knight wrote his own account of his 30+ years of travel at the time, it has widely been discounted as a tissue of lies since. So Milton sets out on a quest to prove or disprove the truth. Did the Knight actually go to the places he said.

And therein lies the problems - it's a travel book basically with accounts of his own travels woven in with the path of the knight. And some of the travel sections are well worthy of a five star rating, but that's not what the book is supposed to be about. Add to that that Milton appears grievously injured to admit Mandeville was a liar - it is possible he just crossed the channel in the 1300s, and sat in France reading books and accounts by others who HAD been there as some of his accounts are lifted from other tales.

You get the feeling Milton set out with a publisher's advance, travelled around and soon realised he hadn't got the book he expected, so he padded it out with his own travels, and the truth is that, yes, as one Five Star Reviewer stated, the section on his stay at the St Catherine's monastery in the Sinai IS worthy of Five Stars.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorest Of Milton 9 Jan. 2007
Like many of you, my adoration of the novels of Giles Milton started with 'Big Chief Elizabeth' and then through his better known books, and you don't need me to describe their brilliance here. So it was a bought this book, and found it a world away from the others.

The problem is, you are expecting a ripping yarn, but all this book tells of is the authors own quest in search of John Mandeville, and his own researches into the subject. It is almost a diary of his own investigations into the subject. It would be a shame if readers stumbled upon this book first, and be put off Milton for life.

At least there is one good thing to come out of it, his subsequent writing was so much superior, as he learnt from his poor approach in this book. Don't be disheartened if this is the first Milton book you come across, I guarantee any of the others will be enjoyable.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars THE RIDDLE AND THE KNIGHT.
I have a bit of a like/dislike thing for this author in that some of his works I've really enjoyed (Samurai William), others (White Gold, Nathaniel's Nutmeg) not. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tracy Terry
5.0 out of 5 stars Eagerly anticipating the time to read this.
I like Giles Milton as an author and an historian. He is not an intellectual snob and does not seek to complicate and confound the reader with abstruse concepts and jargon. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ann Rivers
5.0 out of 5 stars A hunt for treasure!
I found Giles Milton's travels in search of Mandeville woven between rare discoveries utterly fascinating (and very well written). Read more
Published 12 months ago by Cari Hislop
4.0 out of 5 stars Arrived in great condition
But not the greatest read of my life! A book group choice...hey ho! I lost the will to read at one point.
Published 15 months ago by B. Ainsley
4.0 out of 5 stars A literary detective story
Legend has it that Sir John Mandeville was a medieval knight who travelled the world in the 14th century and wrote a book about his 34-year-long journey, called The Travels. Read more
Published on 23 Jan. 2013 by Petra Bryce
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read
I really enjoyed this book. It looks into the life and adventures of sir john mandeville, and whether he did really go to the places he writes about in his medieval book. Read more
Published on 16 Jan. 2013 by Sauniere
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable history
Having just finished The Riddle and the Knight I can say that overall I enjoyed it. Miltons style is pretty easy to follow - I write s one who is not really into historical novels. Read more
Published on 25 Aug. 2012 by R. Simmonds
5.0 out of 5 stars Giles Milton: The riddle and the knight
Brand new book for a good price. A very interesting read. Love his books. And you will if you like reading about history.
Published on 31 July 2012 by Mrs. S. W. Guest
2.0 out of 5 stars What he did on his holidays
After I had reviewed a couple of other Giles Milton books positively, the algorithm naturally recommended all his other histories, this one included. Read more
Published on 24 May 2010 by DB
2.0 out of 5 stars Riddle...What Riddle ?
This book falls rather heavily between two stools, it isn't an incident packed travel book, a la Redmond O'Hanlon, where the author encounters memorable characters in a modern day... Read more
Published on 1 Oct. 2008 by Rotgut
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