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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 13-02-16

Great, fair, intriguing and informative

What did you like most about The Norman Conquest?

This is certainly a well-researched, balanced, well-written and thought-provoking effort. I have to hand it to Morris - the guy knows his stuff. He presents evidence fairly and reasonably, draws good conclusions from it and keeps it all relevant and interesting.

I really recommend this book. You'll learn more about the Anglo-Saxons from it, but they're more interesting anyway, aren't they?

What did you like best about this story?

To disagree with another reviewer - he's not pro-Norman. I sense no sign of liking the bastard conquerer (a giveaway of my own bias, there?) from him, and no suggestion that he was a good man who invaded justly. And fair play to him, that's what we need in history. Nothing is bias-free, but this is as close as you'll probably get. We learn of lives, figures and a reconstruction in as good a fashion as we'll have so far at this time.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Frazer Douglas: they say start by being positive before making a point, but I'm going to start with the negative so as to eventually give him the justice he deserves. This narrator can't pronounce names and places (unless they're French) worth a damn! Even if it's a place name in his own country, still in use today (someone else rightly pointed out the 'Ely' problem), he messes it up. And when it comes to quotes, I find it interesting how narrators deal with them. Some leave a pause before and afterwards, some put in more emphasis...but this guy goes into a voice somewhere between James Mason and a grown-up Harry Potter! It's WEIRD. Like, what the flips? BUT - he's clear, confident and his voice doesn't tire or grate (except when quoting) - he keeps it interesting to listen to, which is what matters most, and what makes him good. Just do more research beforehand, dude.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The brutal end of a race, a language and of a united kingdom.

Or something much, much better than that....

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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-10-15

Hard work. But...not bad.

Ok. From the start, you have to persevere with this one. At first it seems impenetrable - at least the first half of the book is a bombardment of facts, dates, names and hypotheses, and the head swims just taking it all on board. Add to that that within the general chronology of the book there's a fair amount of date-jumping, you could almost give up. After a while, however, I realised that it's not the author's inability to connect with his audience as I had first perceived it. Alright, it would make for easier digestion if he had more of a Tom Holland talent for telling the story of history instead of throwing the facts at you, but I have to say - and sorry Eleanor David - her narration of the book is, although, uncharismatic. Almost too proper. It's the only audio book I've ever spent so much time jumping back a minute or two to re-listen to parts because I zoned out. But, that aside, when the Vikings appear on the scene, Hindley starts to get more into the flow of telling the story of history and it all gets a lot better. Shame it took so long.

All in all, this is an often confusing but useful book for those interested in the subject. If you're new to the Anglo Saxons, I'd recommend starting with Michael Drout's excellent and fun lecture and then use this one to fill in any gaps.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-06-15

Sam Harris - how does he just keep on doing it?

Fascinating - never a dull moment, never ceasing to make you think. Difficult to avoid losing track of where you are due to becoming lost in thought!

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5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 26-02-15

Actors don't just perform on stage...

Wonderful and chilling story brought to life brilliantly by Simon Callow. If only they could all narrate like that.... Full marks.

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