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Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
48
The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England's Self-Made King
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on 15 July 2015
I do love Shakespeare’s Henry IV parts one and two but I had always wanted to get around to reading a decent history of the period to see which elements, if any, of the play were anything close to the actual events. The answer it seems from reading this is - much more than I had thought would be the case. One significant difference however is the character and motivation of the then future Henry V. He doesn’t come out of this history at all well.

When reading this book one has to be aware at all times that it’s a biography of Henry IV and the author is clearly very taken with his subject matter. However the arguments are well made with a wealth of research and detail and Henry IV doesn’t get eulogised on every page. Indeed there are several very critical assessments of his prowess as a military tactician (though not his valour and ability as an individual warrior in battle or in the joust).

So, as I said, biased but convincingly well researched and argued and a must read for anyone interested in this king, or even this time period in Europe. It also comprehensively answered my original question.
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on 14 May 2017
This really bring Henry IV out of the shadows and scrutinises his life thoroughly. If anyone is a student of history they will appreciate this book. It's not a list of events its a carefully considered appraisal of his actions, beliefs based on Henry and those around him. I'm delighted to have found such an excellent historical author, this is the third of his books I have read and all are excellent.
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on 17 October 2016
This is one of the most interesting books I have read lately. Ian Mortimer does a very good job in presenting the life of King Henry IV by taking into account the man behind the crown - analysing historical as well as psychological reasons for his actions. It can be very detailed but the reading flows pretty well. Facts are presented impartially but at the same time (and this is what I loved the most) you can feel creeping in Mortimer's love and respect for this medieval King who has not been given by history the consideration he deserves.
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on 3 May 2014
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I found to be informative and entertaining. I knew very little about Henry IV before reading this and what little I knew about the man, led me to dislike him. I learned not only to like him, but also, to be fascinated by his remarkably rich and exciting life. It is a wonderfully researched historical work, but even if it weren't, it would still be a great piece of fiction.
One person found this helpful
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on 17 November 2013
On my way through the line of English kings I almost jumped over Henry IV. Didn't reign for too long and the kings before and after seemed much more interesting. Would be dumb though I thought, and after reading "Edward III - The perfect king" from the same author I recconed this was a good choice. Looking forward to having it read and go on to Henry V and Agincourt I thought... I was quite wrong. The book is amazing and the story is both touching and exciting. It must be difficult to get a picture of the man Henry IV and not only the king with his achievements and mistakes. Ian Mortimer does this magnificently. Being a layman myself I have no way of questioning the contents, but the picture painted is one of a sympathetic, well meaning and idealistic person who so much wanted to be a great king. History didn't grant him this wish though and one can not feel sorry for a man who ha such great intentions and ment so well only to be beset by rebellion and troubles from day one as king until the day he died. Having begun with Henry III going through Edward II, III and Henry V - Henry IV is the one who seems most sincere and sympathetic. He really wanted so well. A very good and exciting book about a very sympathetic king who deserved a better legacy.
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on 18 July 2015
This author consistently produces page turners ..he brings history to life. He shines a searchlight into the past ,and sifts the evidence with a lawyers precision- in order to illuminate a monarch often unfairly outshone by his famous son.His books are not to be missed.
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on 12 October 2016
The author makes use on some interesting primary sources to give us an involving account of Henry IV's life. In addition the book is well written and the narrative pull is strong.
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on 1 September 2015
Excellent. I still can't get my head round why conquering England was more important than running the country for some kings, but Henry comes over as trying to be fair and reasonable in a time that was anything but.
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on 20 April 2015
3rd book of Mortimer's that I'd read and he has the ability to make often hugely dour and completed medieval history very narrative and easy to follow without at all feeling that you aren't reading a scholarly work. Very interesting book and a real insight into the relationship between Henry of Bollingbrooke and Richard II, which puts a lot into context.
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on 29 January 2015
I enjoy reading books by Ian Mortimer and have now read this book and The Perfect King and feel that Ian Mortimer has a solid understanding of both Edward III and Henry IV and how they ought to be perceived.
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