Monday, July 21, 2014

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones

(via Barnes & Noble)
I was at the local library the other day and not seeing much that interested me at the moment, I went to check out the bookshelves where they keep books they sale and found this. Two dollars well spent, in my opinion. Oddly, my copy looks brand spanking new, like somebody bought it and then just got rid of it without touching it. Maybe they bought it just to donate it to the library, figuring that it would end up in circulation? According to Amazon, the American edition of The Plantagenets was published April 18, 2013, which also happens to have been my birthday by coincidence. Anyways, here's the blurb, which differs from the one on the dustjacket:
The first Plantagenet king inherited a blood-soaked kingdom from the Normans and transformed it into an empire stretched at its peak from Scotland to Jerusalem. In this epic history, Dan Jones vividly resurrects this fierce and seductive royal dynasty and its mythic world. We meet the captivating Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen and the most famous woman in Christendom; her son, Richard the Lionheart, who fought Saladin in the Third Crusade; and King John, a tyrant who was forced to sign Magna Carta, which formed the basis of our own Bill of Rights. This is the era of chivalry, of Robin Hood and the Knights Templar, the Black Death, the founding of Parliament, the Black Prince, and the Hundred Year’s War. It will appeal as much to readers of Tudor history as to fans of Game of Thrones.
The version on the dustjacket is much longer and I might edit this post later on to include it, since I like it more than the condensed version Amazon and others are using.

As of right now, I'm on the final chapter of Part 1 and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far. Dan Jones' writing isn't stale or stuffy and he hasn't tried (at this point, anyways) to make a connection between the Plantagenet era and modern times. He's 32 years old, according to Wikipedia, and that apparently makes a difference. He knows how to write for a more contemporary crowd who aren't interested in sitting through a history lecture.

Point of interest is that The Plantagenets is only the first book of what is so far a two book series. The second book has two different names: The UK and Canadian edition is called The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, while the U.S. edition is The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors. No idea why they removed "The Hollow Crown" from the title for the latter, because I liked it. Here's the blurb for the American edition:
The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors.
Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.
The UK edition drops this September and the American edition drops in October. If the rest of The Plantagenets is as good as it is so far, I'll be eagerly waiting for the sequel.