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68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable is what it is
Dan Jones makes it clear to the reader in his intro that this history of the Plantagenets is a long read, but he isn't apologetic and neither should he be because this is a thrilling, informative, enthralling experience. If we have preferences in reading then I would say I am a reader of literary fiction and poetry who likes to read narrative history as a change. I have...
Published on 29 July 2012 by M. Jefferies

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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good narrative history
The aim of this book is to tell the story of the eight Plantagenet monarchs that ruled England between 1154 and 1399. Each monarch in turn has his story told; which wars he fought in, the land he gained and lost, who he married and who were his children.

In his prologue, Jones tells us his intention with The Plantagenets is to tell the story in an entertaining...
Published on 23 Oct 2012 by Sarah


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68 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable is what it is, 29 July 2012
By 
M. Jefferies "elliemj" (Cardiff,Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
Dan Jones makes it clear to the reader in his intro that this history of the Plantagenets is a long read, but he isn't apologetic and neither should he be because this is a thrilling, informative, enthralling experience. If we have preferences in reading then I would say I am a reader of literary fiction and poetry who likes to read narrative history as a change. I have tried Alison Weir, David Starkey, Leanda de Lisle and scholarly historians such as Eric Ives and Eamon Duffy etc but I enjoyed this more than any of the others. Dan Jones tells a brilliant story of the kings with verve, energy and intelligence. He manages to pull of the trick of conveying the canvas of historical events with exhilarating insights into character, political power and the often absurd fatefulness of events. I suppose I'm trying to say that in trying to engage the reader with the drama of history he doesn't sacrifice the more challenging aspects of historical research. He actually made me feel really clever and well-informed.I'd really recommend this exciting, fresh, compelling piece of work. If you can imagine most historical narratives as a pot-boiler of a series made for ITV, then this is the one made for HBO by the creative team behind The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, The Wire etc. Does that make any sense ? Forget it, read this book !.
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102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real Game Of Thrones, 2 May 2012
This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
I told myself that this year I would address my shameful lack of English history. So: Simon Schama DVDs, This Sceptered Isle on Radio 4 Extra and some books, including this one. Jones's splendidly written epic gripped me from start to finish, and filled my head with fascinating stories of kings, queens, wars, schemes, uprisings, invasions, escapes and conquerings. From the opening tale of a future king of England perishing in a Channel shipwreck, I was never once bored as I was taken through almost 300 years of conflict and chaos in England's palaces and parliaments, and on battlefields and battlements both home and abroad (especially France. Poor old France). And yet it's not all men with swords and grudges: Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of several memorable figures Jones brings to life, seems like Cleopatra and Boudicca rolled into one. Highly recommended.
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102 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The smartest, most accessible history book I've read in an age, 2 May 2012
This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
Dan Jones is a clever guy. I first came across his work when my wife bought me his previous book, Summer of Blood, a rip-roaring chronicle of the events leading up to the Peasants Revolt. What struck me was his deftness of touch, combining sharp historical insight with a freshness and brevity that's all too lacking in many history books, not least those that deal with the Middle Ages.

I picked up The Plantagenets on this basis, though I confess to knowing little of the Plantagenet dynasty beforehand. What he's done here is nothing short of remarkable. While Summer of Blood was highly focused in time and place, this one manages to get its teeth around hundreds of years and eight generations of kings, with a motley cast of the brilliant and the stupid, the heroic and ruthlessly cruel. And yet despite the size of his undertaking, with Jones you still get this lively and compelling jaunt through events, with a judicious probe at the events that matter and some analytical smarts that put events into intelligent context without detracting from the ride. It's a bit like watching a medieval DVD with the director's commentary on (and I mean that in a good way).

To make a book about European medieval history as gripping and compelling as this is no mean feat. Jones gets plaudits from the likes of Starkey and Sebag-Montefiore and you can see why: they know this exciting young historian knocking on the door is the real deal. He's done his research, he knows his stuff, and his prose style is as sharp as his insight. But when he's not writing history books he's clearly enjoying The Sopranos or The Wire.

What's not to like? A total breath of fresh air.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good narrative history, 23 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
The aim of this book is to tell the story of the eight Plantagenet monarchs that ruled England between 1154 and 1399. Each monarch in turn has his story told; which wars he fought in, the land he gained and lost, who he married and who were his children.

In his prologue, Jones tells us his intention with The Plantagenets is to tell the story in an entertaining way. In this he is successful. I was gripped by the stories of Henry II, Richard I and Richard II, because these are the reigns I am unfamiliar with. As the book is written to entertain and tell the story of the Plantagenet dynasty, not to analyse, those that are familiar with the monarchs may find this book is not for them. I found I learned nothing new about Henry III, Edward I and Edward II; but this is because I knew about these reigns before reading, it is not the fault of the author. This book would be a good introduction to the Plantagenet dynasty.

I have mixed feelings about this book. Some chapters, as I said above, really held my interest and I loved them, but others didn't really engage me. I found that the author was often very biased, and his love or hate for the monarch in question was really obvious. John is described as a `delinquent', Henry III `feather brained' and Edward II as `England's worst ever king'. These sort of sweeping, judgmental statements I found very off putting. I especially found with Edward II there was no attempt at all to be neutral; he was even blamed for the failings of Richard II. On the other hand, Edward III and Richard II's chapters were very good reading. The author certainly knows his stuff where these two monarchs are concerned.

As this book is a popular, narrative history it was not referenced in an academic way. Primary source material is still used and quoted though, which was a great addition to the narrative. When learning about Henry II, for example, we have a quote from Gerard of Wales; a man who apparently knew Henry well. This was ideal for a narrative book- someone who is reading for entertainment does not want to be bogged down with footnotes. A further reading section is provided at the back of the book, for people that want to learn more about the monarchs in the book that intrigued them.

The author uses his book to bust a few common myths, which I think is great. Henry II ordering Becket's death and Edward II's supposed red hot poker death are both challenged. Again, though, with the good comes the bad. The author states Edward II was kept in a dungeon at Berkeley; not true, he was kept in comfort in his apartments. Edward II did not give Isabella's wedding presents to Piers, he asked him to take them to the Tower for safe keeping. Henry III's attempted assassin broke into his apartments in September 1238, not some time in 1237. (OK, now I'm just nit-picking. Sorry.) We also learn where Jones stands on the `did Edward II escape?' mystery, but I won't spoil that for potential readers.

All in all, a good narrative history book. There were parts I loved, and parts I didn't. If you want an introduction to the Plantagenet dynasty, this is the book to read. Also, I love the cover. Is there a better portrait than Richard II's?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When's "The Plantagenets Part II" coming out?, 21 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
I have only read a little on this period of English history and am therefore no expert. My views are those of an amateur who's interest in this period have grown with reading of Dan Jones' excellent book. Jones provides a tremendous introduction and overview to the subject, involving as it does a bewlidering array of characters and events. He tells the story with ease and turns what is a complex and (at times) obscure period of history into an exciting story that I simply could not put down. In fact, I cannot wait for him to write "The Plantagenets - Part II" covering the period from 1399 to Bosworth in 1485. That would include amongst other things, Henry V (Agincourt), the conquest of France, Joan of Arc, the Wars of the Roses, Towton, Edward IV, Richard III, the Princes in the Tower and maybe even a mention of the dig in the carpark.
Jones, however, suggests that the Plantaganets as a royal line end with the usurpation by Henry IV and the death of Richard II in 1399/1400. I think there is an equally strong argument to the effect that the Plantagenets as a royal line continued up to the death of Richard III in 1485 at Bosworth and that the Wars of the Roses were really a Plantagenet family conflict. Even if Jones is correct in arguing that the Plantagenets came to an end in 1399 and he decides to end his story there, this book will whet your appetite to read more.
Jones has some very definite views on issues that have been the subject of debate in recent times. For instance, he has no truck at all with the theory that Edward II survived past 1327 until 1330 (or if we are to believe Ian Mortimer - possibly into the 1340's). He is sure that the king was killed at the behest of Roger Mortimer (1st Earl of March) in 1327. Jones also gives an excellent overview of Richard I, the Lionheart and the following reign by his brother King John. From reading Jones, the Lionheart does not appear to have been so great on Crusade after all but was brilliant in his conquest of much of France. King John is famous for having been a truly appaling King and the author shows exactly why this was the case.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in the period. Despite its size it is in fact a very quick read. You will end up wanting to read more on the subject. This being the case, I must recommend the various books by Ian Mortimer which cover part of the period covered by Jones. Though Mortimer expounds some theories and conspiracies that Jones clearly does not agree with, his works are 'must reads' as well. These include the Greatest Traitor (on Edward II and Roger Mortimer), the Perfect King (on Edward III) and the Fears of Henry IV .
Start with Jones' excellent book and you will find yourself wanting to read more.
Enjoy!
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and entertaining, 21 Jun 2012
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
With florid contextualisation - notably the atmospheric conditions pertaining on the day of a battle - Dan Jones here serves history up as a soufflé rather than a heavy, indigestible, casserole. Ivory-tower academics should not, though, be sniffy at this; the facts are there by the cart-load, while the author's accessible writing style keeps the narrative flowing at a cracking pace. If I note that this was an excellent bedtime read, I mean that as a compliment. The Plantagenets is a magnificent and informative book; Dan Jones should be on television!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional History, 23 July 2012
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Amazon Customer (stoke-on-trent, england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
This is an exceptional work of history and really is quite breathtaking in its scope. From the devestating wars known as 'The Anarchy' which brought Henry II to the throne - right through 250 years of empire building and warfare - to the accession of Henry IV, Dan Jones really does capture his subject within an amazing readable narrative. A fabulous, though weighty tome, this is a great read for newcomers and seasoned historians alike.

If you love the history of medieval monarchy then you could not ask for much more in a single volume.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Plantangenets, 23 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. It is informative and easy to read. If you have read about this period of history before you will find yourself reading information you already know, particularly with regard to the more successful kings,Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, Edward I and Edward III. I found it more interesting reading about the less successful kings, Henry III and King John who do not always get such a detailed examination. I still enjoyed reading this book even though I have read books about some of these kings before.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History at is most entertaining, 13 Oct 2012
By 
Mr. A. S. Greig "Hot Shot Scott" (Free Europe) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
The author has done an excellent job here, its a huge challenge to cover such an expansive era and subject matter with any kind of intimate detail but do Dan's credit he has achieved this.
The Plantagenets have got wrongly ignored and overshadowed by the supposedly sexier tudor monarchs but each of their reigns is intriguing in one way or another and their ambitions, abilities and personalities truly have shaped England and Britain's destiny.

Given the story is probably a two thousand pager to compress it to 600 pages (dont be put off by the size of the tome, it never drags). Dan jones has the engaging and sympathetic journalistic writing style of Stephen O'Shea but like him combines it with scholarly dedicated research and thoroughness to incorporate the probably limited surviving source material in to a coherent story of the events of the period. It is an epic story at that with all the ingredients of blood, war, intense piety, alliance and betrayal, love, loss, triumph and disaster in epic proportions which defined the reality of the leaders of the feudal age.

Everyone is going to have a king they love and one they hate, for me I admire King Stephen (not technically a Planatagenet but still covered in this story) for his decency, dignity and determination to rule be the best king he could under horrendous circumstances he had to confront when he claimed the crown, even if it probably want too joyful to be an englishman during his reign.
The villan has to be King John, exactly the kind of individual you'd least want in a position of power who managed to undo so much of the good work of his predecessors in his fairly dispicable reign.
Thats the nature of kingship though and its inherent flaw, the divergence of personalities of the man with the crown is staggering, even from one generation to the next the contrast is remarkable. That is what makes the book such a fascinating read, as there are always twists and turns in fortune from one decade to another.

Cant wait for the sequel!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smashing, 6 April 2014
By 
Patrick Hannay (Bangkok) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Plantagenets (Hardcover)
I wish I had been taught Medieval history at school as well as Dan Jones writes it. His description of the sinking of the White Ship alone is enough reason to read this book.
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The Plantagenets by Dan Jones (Hardcover - 10 May 2012)
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