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on 24 January 2015
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.

Falling into the latter category, for me the main problem with this book is it concentrates less on Sir Mandeville and more on Giles Milton as he follows in Mandeville's footsteps though stopping short of China and Indonesia. Then there is the matter of is it a travelogue OR is it a history book? A combination that can (and does) of course work well, just not in this instance.

Whilst the author's enthusiasm for his subject shines through I'm afraid in many ways I felt The Riddle And The Knight took a superficial glimpse into the life and travels of Mandeville, his seemingly finding a British monk to talk with on the matter wherever he found himself somewhat dubious. Still, on a positive note it did whet my appetite, leaving me wanting to find out more about the intrepid knight who may or may not have circumnavigated the globe.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper.
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on 3 March 2014
I found Giles Milton's travels in search of Mandeville woven between rare discoveries utterly fascinating (and very well written). I don't understand the low star reviewers - Milton HAS to travel to all these places to unravel Mandeville's book...(called The Travels). He has to relate meeting the people he meets. He has to have the experiences he has (and share them) because these aspects are all important parts of the story. By that I mean the WHOLE story...not just Milton's story, but Mandeville's story and the purpose of Mandeville's book (which has to do with perspective - how we see ourselves and how we see others - who's history is correct? What is truth? These are all woven into the background of Milton's journey). Without going to these places in person Milton might never have come to understand what the Victorians (who consigned Mandeville to the rubbish bin of history) couldn't see - the point of Mandeville's book. This book is about one man's hunt for treasure - the treasure of knowledge and understanding of being able to see the bigger picture.
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on 24 May 2010
After I had reviewed a couple of other Giles Milton books positively, the algorithm naturally recommended all his other histories, this one included. I was put off buying it by the low average rating, but I later on spotted it in a second hand bookstore for 50c and couldn't resist the offer. In spite of agreeing with the low ratings I have to say it was 50c well spent - Milton writes as well as he does in his more successful books. But it must have been a very frustrationg project for him, because he unearths precious little about the protagonist, and has to resort to telling the tale of how he failed.

So well worth the price of a newspaper, but don't bother buying it new.
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on 29 June 2004
I was absolutely entranced by Milton's story of his travels in search of Sir John Mandeville, and found his accounts of the places as they are today - eg Jerusalem, Damascus, Sinai - enthralling.
Although trying to find evidence of the intrepid medieval knight is interesting, I think it matters not at all whether Mandeville actually completed the journey he related. It's fun simply to read about Milton's impressions of the same places in the present era and his interactions with the locals.
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VINE VOICEon 23 January 2013
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. Regarded as the father of English literature until the Victorian age and then labelled a fraud, journalist Giles Milton sets out to discover how much (or if any) of the historical accounts of towns, monasteries and people is actually true and verifiable.

First I have to say that the blurb is, in my opinion, slightly misleading: the claim that the book reveals The Travels to be built on "a series of riddles which have, until now, remained unsolved" makes it sound more sensationalist than it really is, probably in an attempt to attract more readers. The accurate description of the author's following in the footsteps of a forgotten medieval knight, pilgrim and traveller to separate truth from fiction doesn't sound quite so enticing. I have to admit that I probably had something like the riddles in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code in mind when I bought it, but it's nothing like it. This is a traveller's guide to Constantinople, Cyprus, Syria, Jerusalem and the Sinai Desert in Egypt, both in the present and in Sir John's day. Giles Milton gives us an amusing and engaging tour of these holy sites, managing to bring the past back to life when comparing it with Mandeville's detailed written accounts. Impeccably researched, this reads like a literary detective story and has a few important points to make in calling for religious tolerance besides. The real eye-opener was contained within the epilogue, detailing what far-reaching consequences a slim volume of travel accounts by a long-forgotten knight has had on the entire world. Giles Milton has achieved to clear Sir John Mandeville's name, and it deserves to be more widely known. By publishing this book, the author has undertaken the first step towards achieving it.
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on 12 March 2003
Having read & then re-read Big Chief Elizabeth & Nathaniel's Nutmeg, I couldn't wait to get hold of The Riddle & the Knight. But I've been so disappointed by this book. Determined to read it but what a struggle & definitely not up to the standard of the others by a mile!
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on 25 August 2012
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. Its a mixture of the historical mixed with modern day travelogue. I have to say it works and is written in an easy going style so you dont get wrapped in dates and places - the people he meets [and places he visits on the way especially in Greece and beyond] make the book come to life. The links to St Albans and to Essex might give it some added local interest. Overall a good read.
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on 3 July 2002
Having read other books by Giles Milton which have been excellent, I was dissapointed by this book. Its largely a travelog and expose of Giles' own travels. You get the impression that the much more interesting story of Sir John Mandeville is both an excuse and inconvenience for Giles, who appears much more interested in recounting his own tales.
I've read many books that are much worse, but my 1 star rating reflects the fact that I think Giles has wasted an excellent opportunity for a proper account and analysis of Sir John's book.
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on 31 July 2012
Brand new book for a good price. A very interesting read. Love his books. And you will if you like reading about history.
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on 30 December 2013
But not the greatest read of my life! A book group choice...hey ho! I lost the will to read at one point.
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