I've finally finished my annual re-read of the Harry Potter series. Whatever people might think of the quality of the writing, and it definitely improves as the series goes on, the sheer brilliance and complexity of the plot never ceases to amaze me. But this post is not about Harry; instead it is about a book by a new author Cornelius Owen.
This book is lengthy so I shall blog as I go along rather than waiting until I've finished it. The novel begins with a young man drinking in a pub with his father, an amateur genealogist. The father has managed to trace their family tree back to the start of English history proper, the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The novel then proceeds to follow the various stories of the people behind the names in that family tree.
Although the book is long - it covers 900 years of history - it rattles along at a galloping pace. There is a focus on the set pieces of history - the big battles and conflicts - but it also vividly brings out the human side behind the facts. It appears to be very well-researched and there are even footnotes to expain some archaic words. The descriptions of battle are exciting, vivid and realistic but once again there is a clear sense of the people involved: their fear, adrenaline and motivations.
I'm really enjoying this book and it is great way to get an overview of English history with a human perspective.