7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Slightly infuriating though Holland's book may be, yet it is not without its merits.,
This review is from: Millennium: The End of the World and the Forging of Christendom (Paperback)
If you find the title of this review clunky and confusing, it might be an idea to give the book a miss.
Like seemingly every reviewer on this page, I greatly enjoyed Tom Holland's previous two books, Rubicon and Persian Fire. In this effort he has the admirable intention of covering a portion of history which is little discussed - the period immediately before and after the year 1000.
Some of the topics covered are extremely interesting and a lot of it will likely be new to most people. The Franks, the Saxons, the Normans and the hotchpotch of families who ruled early France all feature heavily. It's tied together loosely by the general sense of dread which filled Christendom around the turn of the millennium and the belief that the world was nearing its end.
I generally found most of the material and research excellent, but the book falls down quite significantly in my opinion when it comes to readability. There are two main reasons for that. The first is that the broad theme of Christian fears over "the end of the world" only has passing importance to most of the events described. It was a nice idea to find a common link between such a huge number of different peoples and leaders, but the net effect of this is that the book becomes quite repetitive, with constant references to the coming apocalypse that rather get in the way of the narrative.
The second problem is simply with the way it's written. Tom Holland is an excellent writer, but unlike his previous two books the language is overly elaborate and quite a chore to read. I'm not sure if there was an explicit intention to try and write in the style of a 10th century chronicler, but that's exactly how it reads.
Overall I would still encourage anyone interested in this period to read the book, but it's not as enjoyable as it perhaps could have been.