on 30 March 2003
At first, the level of detail and amount of existing knowledge required by this book seemed very daunting, especially as I was almost completely unacquainted with some of the subject matter. Therefore I recommend that, to fully appreciate it, you obtain a basic knowledge of all three main periods beforehand.
However once the narrative moved into the sixteenth century, which I know much better, I could appreciate the analysis of the events, rather than simply understanding what happened. It was particularly refreshing to read about aspects of Henry VIII's reign other than his wives, who often seem to take centre stage.
I have just finished reading this book from cover-to-cover, but I think it would be just as well suited to research or 'dipping in to', since the narrative is divided into parts, then chapters, then sub-chapters of just a few pages. Although I enjoyed reading it as a story, I must warn that it is of a completely different style to, say, Alison Weir, and less suited to general interest. This is mainly down to the former knowledge required, and extensive untranslated quotes in Latin.
I cannot comment as a professional historian, but I'm sure they would appreciate factors I didn't even notice. However this book is well suited to people who have read a range of popular history books and watched David Starkey on TV, and now require something more challenging. After all this is not simply a list of events or a series of biographies, it is an analysis of the relationship between crown and nobility, so the background knowledge is taken for granted, and built upon by using it to support a theory.