Thursday, March 10, 2011

Review for You - The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century by Ian Mortimer
3 stars
Well, this review is probably not going to be as in-depth and long as my other reviews. There are two reasons for that: the first being that I didn't feel too strongly one way or the other about this book, and the second is that it's kind of hard to write a basic review on it seeing as how it covered such a broad aspect of history.

The whole concept and idea of this book is that you have somehow gotten your hands on a time machine and decided to travel back to the fourteenth century. Each chapter is therefore set up to tell you certain things you can expect to find when you arrive, like what type of people you may run into, what they may wear, different accommodations, the food, the law, etc... It's a very intriguing set up for a book about the past. It goes into the differences you will find if you step into, say, a regular townsperson's home as opposed to a nobleman or manorial lord. It also talks a bit about the dreaded Black Death and how basically almost everything was punishable by death (I said almost).

I'm usually a big history buff and so many of my like-minded friends have been blown away by this book and said such wonderful things about it that I was really looking forward to it. I mean, they really raved about it. And I didn't really know anything about Medieval England so I figured this kind of book would be the perfect place to start. I'm not going to say I was disappointed by it though, however it did not live up to the expectations I had considered how highly recommended it came to me.

The problem for me was that it moved very slowly and many of the details were so very minor Mortimer went into them in such detail for such extended periods of time that I would lose interest. The more interesting parts were the ones that were not examined enough in my opinion, such as the various diseases that wiped out half of the population and the ridiculous system of law and order. So I ended up basically using this book as a jumping off point for what I wanted to study more of in the future. Like now I know I want to learn more about the Plague. So yes, it was helpful in opening me up to that time period in England, but the book as a whole was just alright.


Red said...

It sounds like a fun idea for a book. It's too bad it didn't really work for you.

llevinso said...

Yeah, I was really excited about it. I think that was half of the problem. You know when a book is hyped too much?

Red said...

I hate when the hype hurts a book. It's so frustrating to know your reaction could have been different if there wasn't any hype

Marisa said...

Thanks for the heads up! I too liked the concept, but the hype is such a set-up for disappointment.