Easy to read and quite entertaining. Just read a chapter at a time to learn some snippets of English history and legend. It was a little more battered (it was a used book) than I expected, but OK. I'm not unhappy.
I first discovered Robert Lacey as an author from his book 'The Year 1000'. Interesting, accessible, easy to follow, with a good balance of detail and breadth (always a tricky task when writing a popular history), that book was one of my favourites around the turn of the second millennium. I discovered this book after finding the second volume of this set on the shelves of my local library, and have found it equally worthwhile and fun to read. This book focuses upon the period from Britain's prehistoric period up to the Middle Ages (the second volume concentrates on the late Middle Ages to the post-Reformation era in English history) - in royal terms, the times of the pre-Norman Conquest kingdoms and invasions, and the early Plantagenets. In years, this goes from the years around 7000 BC to the late 1300s (Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt). One of the things that I like a lot about this particular history is that the stories are brief and self-contained while being part of the overall flow of the history of England. They make for good bed-time reading (the longest of the stories is barely seven pages long, in easy print and easy, storytelling language). Many of the characters are already familiar figures even to those who aren't Anglophiles - William the Conqueror, Alfred the Great, Boadicea, Thomas Becket and Richard the Lionhearted. Then there will be figures that are lesser known but just as interesting - the Cheddar Man (no, he wasn't made of cheese) from 7000s BC and the Fair Maids of Kent (a story with the foundation of the Order of the Garter). These are tales told in a simplified but memorable manner, and could serve for younger and older readers as a stimulus for further reading and investigation about topics brought up in the text. There are a few maps, royal lineage charts, and woodcut/line art drawings throughout the text. Lacey includes a bibliography for further reading (this contains a good number of website addresses for making further research very easy). There is also an index, which many popular histories forget, but Lacey is to be highly praised for including one here, making looking up particular names, places and events very easy.