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

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A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From the first English word to Tudor A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From the first English word to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.


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A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From the first English word to Tudor A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From the first English word to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology, immerse yourself in the lore of Great Britain. Read the history behind the fiction and discover the true tales surrounding England’s castles, customs, and kings.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Helen Hollick

    Behind every good historical novel is a ream of in-depth research. The characters and the plot are important, but blatant errors of fact can ruin the enjoyment of a fictional adventure. Most modern Historical Fiction authors take great care to delve into the reality of the period they intend to write about, often down to the minutest detail. This book is a splendid source of interesting information gleaned to serve as a solid foundation to some very good novels. Castles, Customs and Kings is a Behind every good historical novel is a ream of in-depth research. The characters and the plot are important, but blatant errors of fact can ruin the enjoyment of a fictional adventure. Most modern Historical Fiction authors take great care to delve into the reality of the period they intend to write about, often down to the minutest detail. This book is a splendid source of interesting information gleaned to serve as a solid foundation to some very good novels. Castles, Customs and Kings is a compilation of easy to read essays written by a variety of enthusiastic authors - some indie, some mainstream - all of whom possess a keenness to unravel the facts from the fiction. From Roman Britain to the Twentieth Century, the articles are superbly laid out in chronological order - you can dip in and out as you please, or read from article to article; either way, when you eventually put the book down you'll have discovered something new while being thoroughly entertained. This is an "I didn't know that" book, guaranteed to inspire and intrigue; you'll find yourself absorbed in the fountain of knowledge penned by wordsmiths who have a passion for the past. My only other comment is that it should come with a Health Warning: something like: "Handle With Caution. Readers are likely to become stuck in a comfy chair and not emerge from this book for several days. Preparation of handy snacks, bottles of drink and a footstool is highly recommended." :-) (This book was a pre-published proof edition sent to me for review. Helen Hollick is an author of Historical Fiction, Historical Adventure and UK Indie Review Editor for the Historical Novel Society )

  2. 5 out of 5

    NayNay

    I am a huge Historical Fiction fan. I can not consume enough about Kings and Queens and their Courts, the Ladies-in-Waiting, and lets not forget about those Handsome Knights and their jousting and sword fights. I love when a author can take me back in time, show me the beauty of our Royalty, from the castles they live in to the beautiful clothes they wear, to the Grand Masque's they had, and the dances they danced. All the while learning about our History. Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales I am a huge Historical Fiction fan. I can not consume enough about Kings and Queens and their Courts, the Ladies-in-Waiting, and lets not forget about those Handsome Knights and their jousting and sword fights. I love when a author can take me back in time, show me the beauty of our Royalty, from the castles they live in to the beautiful clothes they wear, to the Grand Masque's they had, and the dances they danced. All the while learning about our History. Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors is a book full of different stories by different authors. First we have the CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS: each author is introduced to the reader with a little history about themselves, their websites, and blogs. Which I found interesting and very informative. Then there is a LIST OF NOVELS: this is a list of novels by the authors who contributed to this book and it is arranged by time periods. Any historical fiction fan will want to bookmark this list for further reference. We have wonderful contributing authors like, Anne O'Brien, Christy English, Nancy Bilyeau, Sandra Byrd, Sherry Jones, Scott Higginbotham and many more. Now the stories begin... BOADICEA: WARRIOR QUEEN OF ICENI BRITAINS by Teresa Thomas Bohannon. As I read the title, I thought Who is this? But then I found out and was so excited that I was learning something new and knew I would want to read more about this Warrior Queen. Then there is KNIGHTS OF TEMPLAR: THE BEGINNING by Scott Higginbotham and TWO LEGENDS, TWO OUTLAWS: ROBIN HOOD AND WILLIAM BRADSHAIGH by Elizabeth Ashworth, ALICE PERRERS: A NOTORIOUS WOMAN by Anne O'Brien, How great is this the stories just go on and on and they are wonderful. My favorites WHY I LOVE ELEANOR OF AQUITAINE by Christy English, well because I love Eleanor of Aquitaine and Christy English. Another favorite was AN ALL CONSUMING PASSION: THE LOVE AFFAIR THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF ENGLISH HISTORY by Anne O'Brien, Owen Tudor and Katherine de Valois are one of my favorite couples in Royal history, a true love story. Then when you think you are in history heaven you get FOOD FOR THOUGHT: MEDIEVAL FEASTS by Barbara Gaskell Denvil, MEDIEVAL BATHING FOR CLEANLINESS, HEALTH, AND SEX by Katherine Ashe and TUDOR CHRISTMAS GIFTS by Deborah Swift. All sorts of history tibits that keep the pages turning. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all fans of History. I received this ARC from Debra Brown, thank-you for taking me on this journey through time.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah u

    I bailed quite early on in this book when I saw the line ".....it was a hanging crime to speak his [Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, d.1265] name." Despite the title of the anthology, this is not true. This removed my confidence in the rest of the book so I won't be finishing it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    Forrest Gump: My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." That is the perfect description for this book full of little bite sized true stories from Britain's history. Some are sweet, some are chewy and some are full of nuts, but all are immensely readable and educational. This is not some dry history tome written by wizened old academics locked away in ivory towers, these are republished blog entries written by contemporary authors of historic Forrest Gump: My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." That is the perfect description for this book full of little bite sized true stories from Britain's history. Some are sweet, some are chewy and some are full of nuts, but all are immensely readable and educational. This is not some dry history tome written by wizened old academics locked away in ivory towers, these are republished blog entries written by contemporary authors of historic fiction; the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog (http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot...)- which is still being updated. As they studied the era they specialize in they have to become familiar with history and they share their knowledge in this book. These short subjects are perfect for reading in small doses. You can read in order, as I did, or jump around by era.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    I'm not a historian nor particularly interested in English history, but I do like oddities & to expand my knowledge. I got this for free for an honest review. This is a lot of short essays on a variety of topics by historical fiction authors who have researched bits & bobs of English history. I like to listen to one or a few & then digest them, fit them into my previous knowledge & think about what they mean overall. Sometimes that isn't much since I'm not as well versed on the I'm not a historian nor particularly interested in English history, but I do like oddities & to expand my knowledge. I got this for free for an honest review. This is a lot of short essays on a variety of topics by historical fiction authors who have researched bits & bobs of English history. I like to listen to one or a few & then digest them, fit them into my previous knowledge & think about what they mean overall. Sometimes that isn't much since I'm not as well versed on the subject as I probably should be. I don't find royalty & major historical figures nearly as interesting as the peasants & their more prosaic concerns. True to the title, this concentrates more on the upper crust. Another reason I'm not flying right through this is there are a lot of hours & the narrator, Ruth Golding, has a higher voice than I like. It's not bad & certainly just a personal prejudice since her accent fits the content well. I just feel like I'm lectured at by my nanny at times. For all that, it is very well done. It seems to me that the authors have really done their research & often describe just how much guess work has gone into trying to piece their bit of history together.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

    British history? Yes please! Castles, Customs and Kings edited by Debra Brown and the late M.M. Bennetts and has essays from such historical fiction authors such as Katherine Ashe, Gillian Bagwell, Nancy Bilyeau, Sandra Byrd, Stephanie Cowell, Christy English, Barbara Kyle just to name a few, go here to read more about these authors and their work. These essays all come from these authors writing for the English Historical Fiction Authors Blogthat was established by Debra Brown September 23rd British history? Yes please! Castles, Customs and Kings edited by Debra Brown and the late M.M. Bennetts and has essays from such historical fiction authors such as Katherine Ashe, Gillian Bagwell, Nancy Bilyeau, Sandra Byrd, Stephanie Cowell, Christy English, Barbara Kyle just to name a few, go here to read more about these authors and their work. These essays all come from these authors writing for the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog that was established by Debra Brown September 23rd 2011 of which I have been a fan of since its inception.   At the beginning of the book you will find a list of contributing authors, lists of the novels that the authors have written, I found this extensive list to be extremely helpful in finding a good book to read. Each section has different periods in English history ie. Roman Britain and early Medieval period, Late Medieval period, Tudor period, Stuart period, Early Georgian period, Late Georgian period and Regency era, Victorian era. Another section has a bit about the twentieth century which includes Downton Abbey, lost houses of England, Ellis Island and British immigrants. Last but not least, the last chapter has historical tidbits across the ages. Wow, that is a huge huge amount of information, but all fascinating.    I do have the book in print and was offered the audio book for review by Debra Brown and since the print book is a bit big and bulky to take along to the gym, hard to hold on the treadmill, the audio book was perfect for me. A lot of the essays had material that I had read about and knew, my favorite period is the Tudor era, but I also learned a bit more on other topics such as medieval feasts, some of the famous and infamous people that are a huge part of English history.    So my thoughts? This has to be one of the best and most concise book about English history that I have ever had the pleasure to read and it was not boring like some history books can be. Told by the best authors out there, if you are a fan of British history like I am, then you absolutely have to have this book, in whatever format you want. I loved it! I look forward to the next one!     

  7. 4 out of 5

    SoundofSilence_BookFan

    Full disclosure: I received an advance copy and am writing this about 2/3 of the way through (I will update when I finish the book). I am also not a fan of historical fiction. I rarely read anything on the fiction shelf and even less of books that do not relate to royalty and the daily lives of their subjects across all eras and continents. I opened the book expecting to find something akin to a conference proceedings without "trained" experts. Instead I found a new appreciation for the Full disclosure: I received an advance copy and am writing this about 2/3 of the way through (I will update when I finish the book). I am also not a fan of historical fiction. I rarely read anything on the fiction shelf and even less of books that do not relate to royalty and the daily lives of their subjects across all eras and continents. I opened the book expecting to find something akin to a conference proceedings without "trained" experts. Instead I found a new appreciation for the meticulous research and knowledge of the genre's authors. The book is divided into diverse subjects or historical periods. Each author has taken a topic and in a few pages given a succinct, well sourced overview. I find myself adding books to my wish list with every chapter. The book itself first appears daunting in length. The short topic 'chapters' make it easy for on-the-go readers to take in small portions or even skip topics. The editors did a great job with transitions and order for each topic. Despite the length, there is no encyclopedia feel and each author's voice is well preserved. This book is a scholarly treasure trove with a wide appeal. It covers everything from the first English word to the food (and recipes) served at a tudor feast. If you are interested in nonfiction works on England, history, and/or royalty you will find a book that you will return to. Fans of historical fiction and England will find the book rich in supplemental information to complement their reading with an introduction to authors of works they might enjoy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tom Williams

    This is not a book to be read from cover-to-cover. I read it on a Kindle (as an ARC, if you want the full disclosure). The paper version comes in at about 500 pages so it's a chunky read. In any case, it's an anthology, rather than a single narrative. An impressive array of historical novelists have each contributed a short chapter on some aspect of British history that interests them. Obviously, most have chosen to write about the eras that they cover in their novels. Many refer to their own This is not a book to be read from cover-to-cover. I read it on a Kindle (as an ARC, if you want the full disclosure). The paper version comes in at about 500 pages so it's a chunky read. In any case, it's an anthology, rather than a single narrative. An impressive array of historical novelists have each contributed a short chapter on some aspect of British history that interests them. Obviously, most have chosen to write about the eras that they cover in their novels. Many refer to their own books with more or less blatant plugs. It's always a tricky balance to know how much plugging is acceptable. It's a matter of taste, I guess. My books are 'The White Rajah' and 'Cawnpore'. If you find it unacceptable that I've just mentioned that, then some of these authors will irritate. As with all anthologies, there are significant differences in quality and style between the different chapters. However, the editor has done a good job of making sure that all of them pass muster. There are some contradictions between different authors discussing the same period. However, history is not an exact science, and I appreciated seeing the way in which different commentators came to different conclusions. Some chapters carried more authority than others and this is reflected in the fact that some produce bibliographic references and others do not. I was surprised at the distinctly 'old-fashioned' feel of much of it. It reminded me of history is that I read as a child – books which were quaintly out of date even then. This is history as Michael Gove would have it. There is some social history, but generally the writers concentrate on battles and Kings and the doings of the rich and famous. I found the approach charming and reassuring. In the end, most people are more interested in the steps of the dances in the Regency period than they are in the detail of a skivvy's timetable. It's history as middle-aged and older readers remember it – but don't give it to your children, if you don't want to spark trouble in the history class. Many of the authors seem to write historical romances and it is a book which will appeal particularly strongly to readers of this genre who want a little more history and a little less fiction. For me, it was literary comfort food – a recollection of childhood, warm and satisfying, if a little on the sweet side.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Terry Tyler

    4.5 stars This is a long book, and worth every penny! It's a collection of articles about the history of the United Kingdom, in more or less chronological order. I admit to having not read all of them yet ~ I'd read loads, then had a quick look and discovered I was only at 28%, so after that I dipped in and out, depending on the subject of the article. There's so much to choose from: tales of conquests, information about the life of the common person of the time (I loved the mediaeval ones), to 4.5 stars This is a long book, and worth every penny! It's a collection of articles about the history of the United Kingdom, in more or less chronological order. I admit to having not read all of them yet ~ I'd read loads, then had a quick look and discovered I was only at 28%, so after that I dipped in and out, depending on the subject of the article. There's so much to choose from: tales of conquests, information about the life of the common person of the time (I loved the mediaeval ones), to discussion ~ who was the most evil, Richard III or Henry Tudor? Some have more information than others, some are of speciality interest and others more general; if you're a history addict like me, it's a must-buy! As with all anthologies the quality of the articles varied, but every single one was well put together and worthy of inclusion. I liked those by Rosanne Lortz, Judith Arnopp, Debra Brown, Katherine Ashe and one of my favourite authors, Deborah Swift, best, along with a few others; they were the names that sprang immediately to mind. I read the first part on a long train journey, and noted down pieces I'd particularly liked: one about Athelstan, another on William Wallace by Rosanne Lortz, the Monarchy series by Debra Brown, Judith Arnopp's William II and Stephen and Matilda, all of Katherine Ashe's (trying to read my scribble here!), and I also loved the foreward, 'Falling in love with England and its history', by Stephanie Cowell. There was only one aspect on which I was not so keen, which was the plugging of the authors' books in some of the articles. I think an Amazon link to the relevant book at the end of the article would have been a better idea, less intrusive and possibly more effective. There is a list of novels by each author at the front, too, for reference. This is really a terrific book to keep for reference, or just to dip into now and again when you fancy reading something short; I know I will be reading more of it in days to come, and probably looking at my favourite articles over again. I liked that some of the articles named their sources, too, as this is so useful for anyone who is doing research.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    **I received an advanced readers copy for my review** This book is made up of many short stories by several different authors. I imagine each author was able to pick and choose their favorite topic and it shows. As a reader you may pick and choose which stories you want to read and when. If, however, you start from the beginning as I did, you will find the book takes you on a journey through English history. And what a ride! A couple of the stories came across as more scholarly than entertaining, **I received an advanced readers copy for my review** This book is made up of many short stories by several different authors. I imagine each author was able to pick and choose their favorite topic and it shows. As a reader you may pick and choose which stories you want to read and when. If, however, you start from the beginning as I did, you will find the book takes you on a journey through English history. And what a ride! A couple of the stories came across as more scholarly than entertaining, but this is not the norm. I choose to take the time to read them, but it’s just as easy to let them go and move onto the next story if it is your preference. This book gave each author an opportunity to write a clipped or shortened version of their favorite topic or event. They were allowed to get very descriptive and focus on one particular point, moment or passion that you just aren’t able to do in a novel. How fun! I love what they had to say and I found myself highlighting or bookmarking so many interesting tidbits of information. I am intrigued, quite possibly obsessed, with the Medieval period and ate up each and every story dedicated to this era. Overall, I can honestly say that there were maybe 1 or 2 stories that I wasn’t really into, but taken in total that’s a very small percentage. While the stories themselves were rather engaging, I was also pleased with the further reading guides provided. Some of the authors included in this book are ones that I admire or have on my TBR list and I can’t tell you how many more books I’ve added based on the book recommendations within the stories. I know I will keep this book on hand when reading others as there are some great points of reference throughout. I would like to thank Debra Brown for the opportunity to review this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane Lewis

    An eclectic gathering of true stories that showcase historical figures, historical places, quirky facts from the past, and much more

  12. 4 out of 5

    Regan Walker

    A Treasure Trove of Information about England! A compilation of short essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this hefty book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of articles with insightful information they have discovered while doing research for their novels. There are nine sections: 1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 BC – AD 1000) 2. Late Medieval Period A Treasure Trove of Information about England! A compilation of short essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this hefty book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of articles with insightful information they have discovered while doing research for their novels. There are nine sections: 1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 BC – AD 1000) 2. Late Medieval Period (1001-1485) 3. Tudor Period (1485-1603) 4. Stuart Period (1603-1714) 5. Early Georgian Period (1715-1800) 6. Late Georgian and Regency Era (1800-1837) 7. Victorian Era (1837-1901) 8. Twentieth Century 9. Historical Tidbits Across the Ages (things like dogs, clocks and Christmas) From Queen Boadicea's revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crimes and technology, it’s all about Great Britain—the stories behind England's castles, customs, and kings. The articles are not deep research, though they may reflect it. They are brief looks at specific issues (some less than a page; most are 2-3 pages). Some list references; some do not. To anyone who follows the English Historical Fiction blog, as I do, it’s nice having a compendium of their posts in one place. And for anyone doing serious research, this is a place to begin to get a feel for the specific periods and perhaps for clothing, food and even specific technologies (like the flush toilet, mirrors, and as I already mentioned, clocks). I do not recommend buying this as an eBook if you want to use it as a reference. I first tried to read it that way and found it overly cumbersome. Having the 514-page book on one’s shelf is so much better. There’s a handy Table of Contents that allows you to quickly turn to an article of interest.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ayde

    Castles, Customs, and Kings is a collection of articles by various historical fiction writers detailing some of their fascinating research, one chapter each. Some of the chapters are very enjoyable and have interesting information along with some sources, in case you are interested in delving deeper. Most of the articles relate to a specific novel, so you will find several fiction titles of possible interest as you read the background research. The essays are arranged chronologically, beginning Castles, Customs, and Kings is a collection of articles by various historical fiction writers detailing some of their fascinating research, one chapter each. Some of the chapters are very enjoyable and have interesting information along with some sources, in case you are interested in delving deeper. Most of the articles relate to a specific novel, so you will find several fiction titles of possible interest as you read the background research. The essays are arranged chronologically, beginning with "Roman Britain” and proceeding through “Early Medieval Period” to “Twentieth Century.” At the very end there’s a section called “Historical Tidbits Across the Ages” It contains miscellaneous subjects such as information about the origin of Valentine's day. This might have been intended as much as a reference as a clever marketing idea. But given that there are so many authors involved, the writing style is uneven. I found some very enjoyable and informative, such as the section dedicated to the medieval period. That might be because I've been reluctant to pursue reading fiction of that period, but it seems far more exciting than I thought. In other historical periods, such as Tudor England, there are simply have too many titles available. I feel like it’s time to seek other time settings. That’s a personal view, of course. Some readers can never get enough of Elizabeth I, et al. Castles, Customs, and Kings is recommended for readers interested in short pieces on history, but even they will probably want to seek out just the chapters of particular interest. Through the essays, you might find a new novel that catches your attention.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Helena Schrader

    Anyone who likes historical fiction -- or history generally -- will find "Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors" a delightful source of "little known facts" presented in a logical and easily accessible fashion. As Debra Brown explains in the introduction, the book consists of selected entries from the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog (http:// englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/) on which a historical fiction author posts an essay each day about a Anyone who likes historical fiction -- or history generally -- will find "Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors" a delightful source of "little known facts" presented in a logical and easily accessible fashion. As Debra Brown explains in the introduction, the book consists of selected entries from the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog (http:// englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/) on which a historical fiction author posts an essay each day about a historical topic he/she has studied. As Ms. Brown reminds us, "to craft good historical fiction, [authors] have studied the times of which [they] write and the events that came before." In the blog, and now in this anthology, the members of the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog have shared some of the fascinating things they have learned. What I liked best about this book, however, was that is so easy to use! First, the table of contents provides an overview of the wide range of topics, and a reader can jump right in and read any essay that catches their fancy. On the other hand, the entries are organized by time-period, enabling a reader to zero in to the articles most likely to be of interest to them, without wading through the rest. Perhaps best of all, there are a list of books published by contributors, so that a reader who likes one entry or another can quickly cross-check what that author has written without having to go to amazon or the like. There are also short biographies of the contributors. All in all this is a fun way to learn more about history and discover historical novelists who take history seriously.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    I just received this book today. It's very big. All I have done is skim through it so far but it is totally fabulous. An incredible book and produced beautifully!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

    Extraordinary, eclectic essays covering a diverse range of periods and events within history A definite and unmissable must-read for the ardent historical fiction & non-fiction reader, as supplemental information and complimentary (additional) reading relating to England’s history. This compilation of true stories showcasing great historical figures, significant events, places and fascinating facts from the past is simply spellbinding. Additionally to the enthusiastic reader of this genre Extraordinary, eclectic essays covering a diverse range of periods and events within history A definite and unmissable must-read for the ardent historical fiction & non-fiction reader, as supplemental information and complimentary (additional) reading relating to England’s history. This compilation of true stories showcasing great historical figures, significant events, places and fascinating facts from the past is simply spellbinding. Additionally to the enthusiastic reader of this genre many new readers will be enlightened upon a variety of authors, whose work they may not have encountered as yet. In particular, if you are interested in non-fiction works on the history of England, monarchy and traditions then this is something that you will readily return to time and time again. “Castles, Customs and Kings” is a vast treasure trove of tempting treats that appeal to a varied and wide readership, by cleverly merging together both fact and fiction in a glorious way. For, one must remember that every fictional novel is based on fact and so by combining the two in this unique volume one is able to distinguish the story from the actuality. Split into diverse subjects and historical periods, each section is determined by the time period. From Roman Britain to early twentieth-century England, you are able to explore so much and compare each era to the next. Each author has taken a topic and written a succinct, well-sourced overview whilst highlighting their own literary works. Structured almost like an Encyclopaedia, the book is split into chapters and clearly listed sections so that you can skip to the part you want. It is not a book designed to be read necessarily from cover to cover, but more as a ready reference that you can delve into and enjoy various bits at your own leisure. Covering everything from the food served at Tudor feasts to the first word in English this treasure trove is a wealth of knowledge that’s insightful, fascinating and compelling. Having read innumerable books by the many authors included in this anthology, I was truly thrilled by the tempting tidbits discovered whilst undertaking research for their novels. Including real life stories and fascinating facts; From Queen Boadicea’s revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crime and technology you are able to immerse yourself totally in the text. With such passion for the past, I found reading the history behind the fiction and discovering the true tales of England’s Castles, Customs and Kings a sheer joy. Includes author of “The Gilded Lily” (Gillian Bagwell) and many others! *I won a copy of “Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales” by English Historical Fiction Authors through a Goodreads, first-read giveaway*

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

    If you love English history and are curious to go deeper into its fascinating past, Castles, Customs, and Kings is an unforgettable ride that will take you there while satisfying even the fussiest of history purists. An exceptionally thorough read on historical facts and stories, most of which have never been written about elsewhere before (that’s right- new history!), this compilation will blow you away with all the new information you will learn and relish. From Roman Britain, all the way to If you love English history and are curious to go deeper into its fascinating past, Castles, Customs, and Kings is an unforgettable ride that will take you there while satisfying even the fussiest of history purists. An exceptionally thorough read on historical facts and stories, most of which have never been written about elsewhere before (that’s right- new history!), this compilation will blow you away with all the new information you will learn and relish. From Roman Britain, all the way to the 20th century, this book spins you right through the ages with stories that are sure to spark your interest. I was blown away by the array of information that was for the most part (actually almost all of it) new to me. There’s nothing I relish more than new history to peak my interest- and Castles, customs, and Kings delivers that and more. As if the book wasn't already filled with enough extraordinarily interesting facts and dazzling details, there’s also a “Historical Tidbits Across The Ages” section. As well, authors’ bio and a list of their individual novels is also included. This is great because right after reading an interesting section, I was immediately drawn to find out more about the author behind it and what his/her book was about. Stories and facts delivered with an impeccable and captivating writing style, these authors spared nothing in crafting this historical masterpiece filled with in-depth research. With a plethora of information in stories that delight as well as inform, Castles, Customs, and Kings can be used as both reference book or for the sheer delight of historical entertainment. And although the book is set up in historical chronological order, I found that I could easily pick and choose as I went along, depending on my interests. Its 2 to 3 pages max- per article lends for quick and satisfying reading (which makes the book a breeze even if it’s over 500 pgs!). Truthfully, this historical gem will stay with me for a long time, as it has evoked new interest in certain history that I would like to read more about. I will continue to reference this in my choosing of English historical reads (believe it or not there’s even more to the Tudor’s- yes, really!). Tudor’s aside, we’ve barely touched the surface of English historical reading…and when you get your hands on this book, you’ll realize how true that is. Castles, Customs, and Kings: A whole new world of English history to be discovered! Curious reader, historical buff, historian elite and for all those who need more juice in their history reads: You need this book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Two weeks ago I said this " It is so very difficult to tear myself away and to finish the books I have dates to review...Judith Arnopp, Carol McGrath, Paula Lofting, Sherry Jones, Nancy Bilyeau, Anne O'Brien, Debra Brown, Tim Vicary...Oh My! The new favorite authors that I am finding.. Give me strength to put it down .." So of course you see that I did not have the strength to put it down. Every night I had to read some more before getting to my "required reading" and now, somewhat regretfully, it Two weeks ago I said this " It is so very difficult to tear myself away and to finish the books I have dates to review...Judith Arnopp, Carol McGrath, Paula Lofting, Sherry Jones, Nancy Bilyeau, Anne O'Brien, Debra Brown, Tim Vicary...Oh My! The new favorite authors that I am finding.. Give me strength to put it down .." So of course you see that I did not have the strength to put it down. Every night I had to read some more before getting to my "required reading" and now, somewhat regretfully, it has ended. I am so happy this was offered to me for a review by Debra Brown, a fine Editor! Did I tell you that many of these are favorite authors for me? That I anticipate their books coming out ? Did I mention already that there are many more authors that I am now following because I had the opportunity to read this one? Katherine Ashe ends the book delightfully with 800 years of Christmas in England and juxtaposes ancient customs with newer ones. I learned how we built on ancient customs to arrive at how we celebrate today. What things did the Protestant Reformation change for "propriety's sake" and which bits were retained from the ancient Roman Lupercalia? Yes they are all here. Well it is Christmas now, get out there and purchase this book for yourself. It will offer you countless hours of delightful reading. Medieval is my biggest passion, both early and late but if you are a lover of Tudor, Regenecy and Victorian it is all here for you! I am off now to find the latest by Brian Wainwright and Christy English and to look for Roseanne Lortz and Richard Denning. Rereading will also happen from time to time , I am sure of it. Recommended for lovers of every period of British History and those who appreciate scholarly details in their reading. Please follow these and other great writers on English Historical Fiction Authors @ englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com as I do..

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sara W

    I received an ARC of this book, and I'm about half way through it. This book is a collection of non-fiction essays by various historical fiction writers. Each essay stands on its own, so this has been a terrific book to jump in and out of (which is why I haven't finished it yet - I've been taking my time going through it). I found some essays to be more interesting than others, but that's to be expected considering how many authors and topics are involved. I thought the organization of the I received an ARC of this book, and I'm about half way through it. This book is a collection of non-fiction essays by various historical fiction writers. Each essay stands on its own, so this has been a terrific book to jump in and out of (which is why I haven't finished it yet - I've been taking my time going through it). I found some essays to be more interesting than others, but that's to be expected considering how many authors and topics are involved. I thought the organization of the essays was great. I've pretty much been reading the book straight through, and the essays flow from one to the next very well. I especially liked the list of the contributing authors' novels arranged by time period - I feel like that is something I will refer back to often as I'm looking for books to read about this or that time period. Many of the authors plug their novels in their essays, so that may or may not annoy some people. The essays were originally written for a blog, so I didn't mind the authors' references to their novels in that case (in fact, I added some of them to my Goodreads to-read shelf). I'm reading a Kindle version of this book, which has been fine, but I think this is a book where I would prefer the real thing because it would be fun to be able to flip through the pages and just read whatever essay pops out at me. That's not impossible to do on the Kindle (I can browse through the table of contents), but it's not exactly the same thing. That being said, I think the book is over 500 pages, so the Kindle version is certainly lighter! Overall, this has been a great book, and I look forward to finishing it (I'll update my review once I finish it if I feel differently for any reason).

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sue Millard

    I'm still working my way through this but I'm finding this collection of blog entries both entertaining and informative. Arranged in chronological order from Roman times almost to the present day, the individual chapters vary in length, I assume according to how energetic the writers were in producing their posts for the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. They also vary in style. Some offer in-depth referencing so you can pursue a topic into academia and beyond, while some offer only light I'm still working my way through this but I'm finding this collection of blog entries both entertaining and informative. Arranged in chronological order from Roman times almost to the present day, the individual chapters vary in length, I assume according to how energetic the writers were in producing their posts for the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. They also vary in style. Some offer in-depth referencing so you can pursue a topic into academia and beyond, while some offer only light reading; a few quote no-one and feel like coloured advertisements for the author's own book based in that era. Overall, though, the posts are good quality and thought provoking and I think this Kindle version will be staying as a pleasing reference book. The production is well done, with one small nitpick on the technical side: on my old-ish keyboard Kindle the text opens in the midst of the Table of Contents which it appears to believe is the beginning. Possibly the file behaves better on newer devices :) Otherwise, the presentation is consistently reliable and the SPAG policewoman who lurks inside me has not been stirred to activity at all :) Please excuse me now though - I'm about to dive into a knotty problem, AKA the chapter contrasting Richard III and Henry VII.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    It was a good book. lots of information from all eras and centuries of British history. I am one of those people that love certain periods of history while not so interested in others as much. Those parts that are my favorite are those eras and I loved the different authors opinions and their expertise on those areas. Other areas weren't as interesting for me but still very informative about the history.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Breashears

    Anyone interested in British history will find Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors fascinating. The wide range of articles cover some of the isle's lesser known tidbits of history. As a whole, the work sparks as many questions as it answers, thus making it a wonderful jumping of point for serious historical inquiry or historical fiction. Many thanks to Debra Brown and M. M. Bennetts for compiling such an interesting work.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    I really enjoyed this book of essays and learned a lot. Knew I'd love it when I opened it up to Stephanie Cowell and her beautiful words. A lot o love went into editing this book, I think. It's perfect!

  24. 5 out of 5

    InD'tale Magazine

    There truly is too much to mention in this rich attempt at compiling England. It serves as a delightful addition to anyone who loves history. Read full review in the 2014 February issue of InD’tale Magazine.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lezley

    A great book. I was surprised that I knew so few of the authors who wrote a piece for this book and delighted to be introduced to their works which I look forward to reading. Interesting tidbits of information throughout British history.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susan (the other Susan)

    Night of a thousand zzzzz's. DNF

  27. 4 out of 5

    A.M.

    This is a compilation of short pieces by a whole group of historical fiction authors; limited to English history. A lot of the authors reside in England where history is constantly on display. [I’m Australian, we're scraping a mere two hundred years of Western civilization.] A lot of the chapters are things researched for novels: places, people, customs, etc. Or things that sparked an idea that eventually became a novel. Fascinating stuff and given there are so many of them, if one thing isn't of This is a compilation of short pieces by a whole group of historical fiction authors; limited to English history. A lot of the authors reside in England where history is constantly on display. [I’m Australian, we're scraping a mere two hundred years of Western civilization.] A lot of the chapters are things researched for novels: places, people, customs, etc. Or things that sparked an idea that eventually became a novel. Fascinating stuff and given there are so many of them, if one thing isn't of interest to you, there's always another part to read. 4 stars

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yolande

    This book was born from a blog (English Historical Fiction Authors); the authors took their favorites submission to this blog, and it shows. While most of the entries are really interesting, some are nothing more than lists. Others are boring enough that I'm not sure I'd read the books written by those specific authors. It's a good way to pass the time (I read most of it on planes, and stuck in airports), but nothing more. I expected more. Slightly deceiving

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janet Wertman

    First, fantastic book. Now that I have that out of the way, I can get more analytical. Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors is a compilation of hundreds of articles that spring from the extensive research that different authors have done for their novels. Ever wondered about bathing habits in medieval times, or how Tudor kitchens actually worked, or how flush toilets came to be? It’s in there, and more. The book’s structure makes it an easy read. It is First, fantastic book. Now that I have that out of the way, I can get more analytical. Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors is a compilation of hundreds of articles that spring from the extensive research that different authors have done for their novels. Ever wondered about bathing habits in medieval times, or how Tudor kitchens actually worked, or how flush toilets came to be? It’s in there, and more. The book’s structure makes it an easy read. It is divided into nine sections, ranging from Roman Britain and the Early Medieval Period through the Twentieth Century – plus a special bonus section for Historical Tidbits Across the Ages (for topics, like the royal coat of arms or Christmas, that span multiple time periods). This allows you to skip around a bit – which I confess to doing. I started with the intention of reading it straight through, but given that I have a strong preference for the Tudor era I ended up skipping ahead a bit and then circling back. I also confess to skipping some of the essays – not every reader will love every author or every title – but that is part of the genius of the format. Since each essay is only about 2-3 pages long, you don’t feel like you are losing much if an article here and there doesn’t quite pique your interest (plus it happened fewer times than I would have expected). Still, its most enduring legacy is the fact that it assembles so much information – this makes it a critical resource for all writers of historical fiction set in England. I am currently writing a novel (Jane the Quene, about Henry VIII’s third wife, scheduled for release in 2015), and I loved the opportunity to read more detail about the tiny elements that I’ve been researching on my own. For example, I used the essay entitled The Elizabethan Gardening Craze to make sure that a scene I had written involving a garden was accurate (while the essay focused on the second half of the sixteenth century, it discussed some of the background and helped contextualize much of what I knew). So helpful and reassuring! In all, a wonderful book. I am looking forward to the sequel!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lou LaJeunesse

    Castles, Customs and Kings by Debra Brown Author, Editor I recieved a copy of this book in return for an honest review. That being said.... It is not a typical novel. But it kept my attention as a novel would. I read all 548 pages taking a minimal number of breaks. It kept my attention throughout. I love history. I always have. If I read and a person, place or event is referenced, I have a need to find more about it. It creates a need for me to look for more reading material about it. This book did Castles, Customs and Kings by Debra Brown Author, Editor I recieved a copy of this book in return for an honest review. That being said.... It is not a typical novel. But it kept my attention as a novel would. I read all 548 pages taking a minimal number of breaks. It kept my attention throughout. I love history. I always have. If I read and a person, place or event is referenced, I have a need to find more about it. It creates a need for me to look for more reading material about it. This book did just that for me. If I had had books similar in nature to this one when writing papers for school, I would have begun my research there. The book is in 9 parts There are nine sections: Starting at about 55BC and continuing chronologically to the Twentieth Century. 1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 BC – AD 1000) 2. Late Medieval Period (1001-1485) 3. Tudor Period (1485-1603) 4. Stuart Period (1603-1714) 5. Early Georgian Period (1715-1800) 6. Late Georgian and Regency Era (1800-1837) 7. Victorian Era (1837-1901) 8. Twentieth Century 9. Historical Tidbits Across the Ages It includes historical events told as acurately as possible after all history can be a bit illusive when you cover that large a span of time, going back that far. It tells the stories of people and places. It covers political issues as well as religous ones. Youu learn about everyday life, clothing food and so much more. It includes references including the authors whose work was researched numbering over 50. You will even find the titles of other works they have done. I decided early on in my time reading this that I had to have an actual physical copy. I was making notes and when I realized I had over 12 pages of notes that meant I had to own a physical book that I can tag portions of with post-its etc. I would recommend that any English History student or researcher, have a copy. It would also make a good reference book for any reader who is reading or writing historical fiction. Read it just to get background for your own preference in reading material about England's history, Debra has put together an amazing compilation of English History.

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