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The Time Traveller’s Guide to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer

January 30, 2013

For those of you who are following my book challenge (reading 50 books in 2013 and reviewing them as I go) you will know that I have just finished my second book, The Time Traveller’s Guide to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and even though I got a bit side tracked while reading it, it was still a fantastic book and did keep me wanting to read more.

Firstly, if you are not up for non-fiction, this isn’t for you. This is a factual book, it is a historical book, but, if you are not sure, then I would suggest that you read it. I tend not to read factual books because I have to every day for research, so a good novel is what I like to relax with. But, being a medievalist, I thought I had better try something new, and I am very glad I did.

The book basically takes you through what it would be like to be a visitor, or indeed to live in the fourteenth century, both as a royal and as a peasant. The book covers so many topics, and topics that you may not necessarily learn about in lectures or when doing research. It covers buildings, homes, transport, food, clothes, entertainment, work and the law. This is what I think is so great about this book, the variety and what you will learn, even when you don’t even realise it.

By now, you will know that I am a lover of this book, so sorry about that! But, my next praise comes for the immersing the reader into the book and therefore into the fourteenth century. As I read I realised that I genuinely thought I was walking through Exeter looking at the buildings, and this was great, it really is like a travel guide, which is the aim. However, I do feel that this sense of immersing the reader into the fourteenth century was lost in the middle of the book. With some topics it must have been hard, but the start of the book was so good at it and it seemed to become a bit lax, not that this takes much away from the book.

If you are interested in the fourteenth century, but not about the scholarly bits, not reading textbooks, but really want to know how people in general lived, then this is a fantastic book. It also offers a bibliography at the end of the book, allowing you to follow up on anything you find super interesting!

So, my second book of 2013 was fantastic, so I would thoroughly recommend it!


From → Book Reviews

  1. Very interesting and very well written.

  2. Andy Whiting permalink

    I cheated a little and had the audiobook, It’s a great way of presenting the period to newcomers. A very nice review.

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