Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors

This book is a collected series of blogs from a wide variety of historical fiction writers.  The topic: random things they discovered while doing research for their books.  Topics include clothes, armor, weapons, customs, etiquette, meals, recipes, politics, scandals, personal tales, conjectures, leisure pursuits, social groups, traditions, nursery rhymes, crime and punishment… the list goes on and on.  Largely the sections are broken up by era.

On the whole, this is a fascinating little book.  I go into these things with the understanding that research by a writer is nowhere near the same level of research by an historian in most cases.  It’s sort of like looking through a telescope and claiming you’re an astronomer.  I’ve run across a couple in recent days that don’t have that distinction, so that was a red flag that was immediately on my mind.  I got the sense that the writers here understand this distinction as well, because this whole book is basically “here’s what I discovered, isn’t it cool, and here’s the book I was working on where I applied it.”

Being blog posts, the nature of this book is you get a lot of short entries, so for those looking for history in bite-size format, this book’s for you.

4 stars

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