Another one from the backlog. Oh, also, from now on I’m providing a link to where you can buy any book I review at the bottom of the review.
This book. Holy shit. This book. This book is amazing. So amazing. I’ve had it on my shelf since Christmas 2011, and just hadn’t gotten around to reading it. I don’t know why, I’m a sucker for Medieval Studies. I think I might have been plugged up. No matter, I’ve remedied this problem in full.
The central conceit of this book, a particularly awesome one, I might add, is that it’s writing about the past in present tense. This brings an amazing immediacy to the narrative, as Ian Mortimer constantly bombards your eyeballs with more facts than my Japanese flash card sets. Sexy facts. Well, except the part about the plague, which pops up surprisingly rarely for a book about the 14th century.
This book makes me feel… embarrassed. Embarrassed that there was so much about the Middle Ages that I didn’t know, when I made an effort to study it to bring verisimilitude to the fantasy settings I write in. I hadn’t studied enough, apparently, which I’ll blame on the fact that I’d rather write than do historical research. This book’s also gotten me excited and anxious to get writing more. I mean writing more fiction, of course.
What did I learn? Way too much to process, in terms of hard facts. Emotionally, I learned that the Middle Ages were not the Dung Ages. These people had order (even if it wasn’t ideal), they had facts (even if the quality of those facts were suspect), and they too were human. Yeah, I know that’s not much, but seriously, this is a book about facts. I’m not going to give away the best kernels of Ian Mortimer’s research in a review.
You can find your own copy of The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer here.