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

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An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor que An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain's castles, customs, and kings.


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An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor que An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain's castles, customs, and kings.

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

  1. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    This is the second book in the series but you needn't read the first (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...) before this one. These are stand alone collections from the English Historical Fiction Authors [ http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot...] If you love English History but hate boring history books this is a great way to learn without being overburdened with boring.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Good overview book but the essays are too short and don't go into enough detail for me. There was one very fascinating story about Thomas Cranmer's greatest achievement being the writing of the liturgy for the Church of England that is still used today - as it was put - Mary Tudor won the battle but Thomas Cranmer definitely won the war in that regard!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erin Al-Mehairi

    Several years ago, the English Historical Fiction Authors group decided to take some of the various articles and essays written by authors and compile them in one collective book called Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales from English Historical Fiction Authors. I thought that was a marvelous idea, as many of these blogs and essays and articles get lost in cyber space, and yet, are full of research and tidbits that are interesting and useful! Debra Brown and the now late M.M. Bennetts did a Several years ago, the English Historical Fiction Authors group decided to take some of the various articles and essays written by authors and compile them in one collective book called Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales from English Historical Fiction Authors. I thought that was a marvelous idea, as many of these blogs and essays and articles get lost in cyber space, and yet, are full of research and tidbits that are interesting and useful! Debra Brown and the now late M.M. Bennetts did a marvelous job putting them all together. This year, a voluminous second edition, now in memory of M.M. Bennetts, was released and the collection edited by Debra Brown and Sue Millard. This is a very large book to read at 600 pages, but it’s size is what makes it a great well-rounded collection to purchase to have on your shelf for a time you want to read a tale or two or use for research. Due to my limited reading time, I couldn’t quite get through all the stories in a few weeks, but I did get through many of them, reading a few every night, and I plan to continue on with that long after this review done. The essays are absorbing and played right into my inquisitive, history loving mind in all the right ways and offer a wealth of knowledge on all various sorts of British history. Many are delightful, some sad, some useful, some funny, many adventurous, and all fascinating. It’s easy to be swept away into lands far in time and place and to want to keep heading into the next essay after completing a former. The voices of these particular authors are very strong and captivating. Upon sliding to the first essay, I smiled to see the first was my friend Nancy Bilyeau’s essay about her dream coming true in flying to England during the research for her Joanna Stafford historical suspense series. It was the perfect essay to begin with as it encompasses the feelings most historical and fantasy readers have had in regards to being entranced by the worlds of Kings and Queens (and the lot) in our teen years. Didn’t we all wish to travel abroad? To see where the history happened we read about? It was fitting, her thoughts and evident enthusiasm, as this edition of Castles, Customs, and Kings is a way to do just that for those of us who can’t get back to England anytime soon to revel in exploring the history. This book allows us to steal into the history of England through words, until we can see her again, or for some, for the first glorious time. With a perfect set-up into the collection by Nancy’s essay, they came one after the other in their uniqueness or lesson. I have a few other favorites so far, such as An Anglo-Saxon Christmas by Richard Denning (an essay everyone of most religions should read) which tells us definitively how paganism and Christianity became entwined. It’s something I knew from studies, but it was a great essay that would teach quite a few people about the origins of Christmas. I love anything about the history of Christmas so I enjoyed this article, as well as the very last one at the end of the book about plum pudding! Now I want to make some! Being an advocate for women’s rights, and women’s history, I enjoyed Octavia Randolph’s Women’s Rights in Anglo-Saxon England: Why They Were Much Greater Than You Think. For women that don’t realize that before 1066 many women held great power and rights, this would be an excellent article. I also liked Randolph’s essay on Lady Godiva, which for all visual remembering of her, taught us that she was actually was a very rich woman. Another of my favorite essays was Carol McGrath’s The Medieval Garden, which was interesting to me as I love gardens, mills, and orchards. I had never really read anything particularly about the history of them, though obviously, to this day they are glorious in England. (On a side note, when little and growing up in England, our neighbors had a huge garden that came up and through our fence. I couldn’t stay away from the flowers or plants then, and upon exploring all of them with my fingers during my terrible toddler years, ended up with pesticide in my eyes. A terrible few days at the hospital for my mom and me, but alas, I’m fine and still very curious about gardens!) Quite a different essay that caught my eye, was Anne O’Brien’s The Power of a Red Dress, which was about my favorite color to wear–red, but also utilized one of my favorite classics, Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. Her original style of writing this article made me read it twice. And yet, I wear red…..I can see what that says about me! (You’ll have to read it to find out) There are articles stemming from medicinal uses and cures to art, music, weather, military battles, monarchy, nobility, religion…basically, you name a period and subject of history and you’ve got some sort of set of essays to fit your desires. I especially liked how many author’s essays balanced each other or built off one another, sometimes probably without even the authors having planned it that way. The editors did a good job of balancing an array of technical and educational essays with others that were more for the historically curious and sometimes ticked the funny bone or were surprising and witty. I really could go on and on picking out essays and articles that already are my favorites or must reads, but it would take all night. I highly recommend if you have any love of English Historical Fiction that you escape quickly with a copy of this book for your shelf, either digital or tangible, but I can see that it would make a great print copy staple for your nightstand or your reference library (or a great gift!). This conglomerate of amazing authors know how to do their research and write up historical stories that leave us wanting more. I’m thrilled that all these essays will never be lost, but treasured.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Kelly

    Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2 Have you ever wanted to know more about British history but you don't want to read a dry boring history book with data that you will never remember? Yes, me too. I love reading about British history, Tudor era especially. Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2 is perfect, not only does it follow the first volume in that it kind of continues or actually contributes more to the reader. I have read both of the volumes now and equally impressed. The articles come fro Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2 Have you ever wanted to know more about British history but you don't want to read a dry boring history book with data that you will never remember? Yes, me too. I love reading about British history, Tudor era especially. Castles, Customs and Kings Volume 2 is perfect, not only does it follow the first volume in that it kind of continues or actually contributes more to the reader. I have read both of the volumes now and equally impressed. The articles come from well known historical authors such as Sandra Byrd, Anna Belfrage, Nancy Bilyeau, Debra Brown, Stephanie Cowell and so many more.    One of the things I liked about how the ebook was set up was the listing under each author's name for their websites, Twitter, Facebook and any other social media they contribute to. I think that gives the reader an insight into who their favorite authors are, all in one book. After the list of authors, about 50 of them, there is a section on the list of novels each author has written. Wow, that is one long list of books to read. I went through the list and there are quite a few that I have read, but there are so many more to get to.    The book starts off with Pre-Roman to Early Medieval Britain (pre-55 B.C.-A.D. 1000 to Victorian Era and the Twentieth Century), now that is a lot of history covered. Within each section, the articles range from a glimpse inside a Roman home, The London Tornado of 1091, the Making of a Medieval Queen and The Lady's Monthly Museum. Once you get through all that there is another section called Historical Tidbits across the Ages. We learn about some castles such as Leeds and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Witches, Midwives and Childbirth to Beds and Bugs through the Centuries.   All of the articles within the covers of Customs, Castles and Kings Volume 2 come from the English Historical Authors blog. All impeccably researched and fun to read. If you love British History like I do, then this book needs to be in your library.     

  5. 5 out of 5

    Annette

    Summary: An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Br Summary: An anthology of essays from the second year of the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book transports the reader across the centuries from prehistoric to twentieth century Britain. Nearly fifty different authors share the stories, incidents, and insights discovered while doing research for their own historical novels. From medieval law and literature to Tudor queens and courtiers, from Stuart royals and rebels to Regency soldiers and social calls, experience the panorama of Britain’s yesteryear. Explore the history behind the fiction, and discover the true tales surrounding Britain’s castles, customs, and kings. Visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog & Facebook page. An excerpt, Seven Surprising Facts About Anne Of Cleves by Nancy Bilyeau. My Thoughts: The first two sections of the book are titled: "Pre-Roman To Early Medieval Britain" and "Late Medieval Period." The years cover 55 B.C. to A.D. 1485. These are my favorite periods to read about in British history, especially the period between the time the Romans left and until William the Conqueror's reign. Contributing authors of these chapters: Mark Patton, Richard Denning, Octavia Randolph, Rosanne Lortz, Lisa Yarde, Carol McGrath, Patricia Bracewell, Paula Lofting, Martin Lake, Helena P. Schrader, Arthur Russell, Scott Howard, Christy English, Nancy Bilyeau, Lana Williams, Antoine Vanner, Katherine Ashe, Judith Arnopp, Anne O'Brien, Anna Belfrage, and Anne E. Johnson. Several factors led me to give this gem of a book 5 stars for excellent: Multi-use book. The book can be read from cover to cover, read as a reference book, or in reading stories in history that are of interest. Engaging historical facts. "The Coligny Calendar And The Rhythms Of The Iron Age Year" by Mark Patton. In this chapter, I learned about the calendar for this era, including festivals, and the names and spellings of the months. "The Mission Of St. Augustine" by Richard Denning. In this chapter, I learned about Pope Gregory's quest to convert the English. He gave the task to Augustine, later he became Saint Augustine of Canterbury. I learned the order and progress of this history, but also Augustine's personality. "Alternate Histories of The Norman Conquest," Part One and Two (2 chapters) by Rosanne E. Lortz and Paula Lofting. In these chapters, I was given historical "primary sources" from both Anglo-Saxon and Norman. I felt this was a thorough teaching on a period in history that's difficult to interpret without bias. These chapters were some of my favorites in the entire book! Interesting character views. "A King, An Earl, And The Terrible Death Of A Prince" by Paula Lofting, and the two chapters, part one and two on the "Alternate Histories of the Norman Conquest." Edward the Confessor is an enigma. I prefer to read about mighty kings. Men of robust health and vigor. Men who fight valiantly. For example, Harold II and Oswald. Poor Edward, he did have a rough start, and his mother was not motherly, but instead a vixen. The sad tale of his brother Alfred left Edward bitter. Edward is forgivable, but not a favorite king to read about. Contrasting Edward with Harold II, and later Edgar Aetheling gave three polar views of kings. I loved reading these chapters. All of the characters in history came alive, even if one of them was a bit lumpy. Source: Free ebook copy from Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. Rating: 5 stars for excellent.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    This beefy volume of articles about British history, ranging from pre-Roman to 20th century, is drawn from the fabulous English Historical Fiction Authors blog. I love books that come from blogs. At first blush, it seems counter-intuitive, buying a book with content from a free blog, but this volume proves how awesome the idea is. At close to 600 pages, this book anthologizes a whole year's content from nearly fifty authors, compiling their intriguing blog posts in chronological order. It's a welc This beefy volume of articles about British history, ranging from pre-Roman to 20th century, is drawn from the fabulous English Historical Fiction Authors blog. I love books that come from blogs. At first blush, it seems counter-intuitive, buying a book with content from a free blog, but this volume proves how awesome the idea is. At close to 600 pages, this book anthologizes a whole year's content from nearly fifty authors, compiling their intriguing blog posts in chronological order. It's a welcoming format: I can dip into and out at my leisure, and a book like this begs that kind of languid reading. In her introduction, Brown writes this volume is meant to evoke "the soul of the past with personal stories and strange happenings", and it does just that. Each piece has a warm, conversational tone (so those expecting something deeply academic should look elsewhere). What I most enjoyed about these pieces is that they make up a love letter to the genre of historical fiction, as well as a behind-the-curtain expose of hard work and miraculous, plot-affirming surprises that bolster writers. It is that tone, excited and nerdy, that hooked me and kept me paging through these pieces. Even for eras I'm not typically fascinated by, there were still essays that intrigued me (like Nancy Bilyeau's article on Mary Shipton, Tudor prophetess). The group of participating authors is impressive; some of the names that I'm familiar with include Sandra Byrd, Anna Belfrage, Nancy Bilyeau, Patricia Bracewell, Stephanie Cowell, Christy English, and Deborah Swift. (You can see a complete list of participating authors at the blog.) Fans of British historical fiction will want this book; it's a bit like the extras on a DVD, loaded with trivia that helped me have a better sense of life for the characters of many of the books I love to read. Keep bedside or even loaded on your smartphone for when you need a few minutes of reading (and be prepared to look up and see an hour or two has passed!).

  7. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    I have always enjoyed history, even when I was in school, history was one of my favorite subjects. However, I honestly never thought I'd open a book of over 500 pages and devour it in a few days. Not to mention the fact that this book is a compilation of British history broken up by period and each chapter gives a historical synopsis of each era. Even if you are a history buff like me, you might be put off by this book because it might appear to be like a social studies book. But let me put your I have always enjoyed history, even when I was in school, history was one of my favorite subjects. However, I honestly never thought I'd open a book of over 500 pages and devour it in a few days. Not to mention the fact that this book is a compilation of British history broken up by period and each chapter gives a historical synopsis of each era. Even if you are a history buff like me, you might be put off by this book because it might appear to be like a social studies book. But let me put your fears to rest! This book is engaging, interesting and totally worth your time, Five things I loved about this book: 1. This book is told by each historical era so you don't have to read to this book cover to cover. If you only want to read about Henry the Eighths era you can turn to it and skip the first part of the book entirely. 2. "Castles, Custom's, and Kings was compiled by the English Historical Fiction Authors group. This group decided to take some of the various articles and essays written by authors and compile them in one collective book. To me this group has saved the history of all these stories from long ago. If not for groups like this one, we'd never know what happened long ago. 3. This is NOT a boring history book! Once you pick it up you'll see the magic I saw in this gem of a history retelling. 4. This book starts at medieval law and literature, and goes all the way to the true telling's of the Tudor queens and courtiers. 5 Each of the authors of this book contribute a completely different piece of historical literature to this book. All the authors told their tales well and I was never wondering about something that they might have missed. All the stories of the individual periods were told with authority and interest. Hopefully if you are a history buff or entranced by historical fiction like me, I have given you at least one reason to pick this book up. Enjoy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    This is a BIG book! A BIG book of fascinating historical goodness. I have to admit that I have not finished this giant masterpiece. I'm taking my time, reading an essay or article at a time - and thoroughly enjoying myself.  The amount of research these fantastic authors do always impresses the heck out of me. I am really finding it interesting the many things they come up with that don't end up making it to the actual stories they're writing. The way this book is compiled makes it easy to stop a This is a BIG book! A BIG book of fascinating historical goodness. I have to admit that I have not finished this giant masterpiece. I'm taking my time, reading an essay or article at a time - and thoroughly enjoying myself.  The amount of research these fantastic authors do always impresses the heck out of me. I am really finding it interesting the many things they come up with that don't end up making it to the actual stories they're writing. The way this book is compiled makes it easy to stop and start and pick and choose whatever you're in the mood for reading at the time. One of my favorite parts of book reviewing is doing interviews with the authors and/or having them write guest posts for the blog. This book, along with the first volume, are like candy for me in that respect. I feel like I'm getting "behind the scenes" glimpses into the process in a big extra helping.  The varying emotions that are evoked from many of these offerings were also a surprise for me. I pretty much hit the full range from sadness and tears to full belly laughs.  Any lover or writer/wannabe writer of  historical fiction needs to have this tome on their shelf. It is a fabulous reference as well as a place to go for an entertaining and informative look into the early times of Britain. Those who are just in search of some great stories to while away a winter's night will also benefit from getting this/these books.  Full review posted at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf. Book was received in exchange for an honest review. 

  9. 5 out of 5

    Clarissa

    I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy this one…but I was in good hands with numerous historical fiction authors whom I’m already familiar with; Stephanie Cowell, Nancy Bilyeau, Patricia Bracewell, Deborah Swift and many others. If you’re afraid that this is going to sound like a long academic read, put your worries aside! This is nothing like that. Each author included is a renowned historical fiction author and is not one to write a long, dull tome. My own doubts were silly and once I began to read, I fo I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy this one…but I was in good hands with numerous historical fiction authors whom I’m already familiar with; Stephanie Cowell, Nancy Bilyeau, Patricia Bracewell, Deborah Swift and many others. If you’re afraid that this is going to sound like a long academic read, put your worries aside! This is nothing like that. Each author included is a renowned historical fiction author and is not one to write a long, dull tome. My own doubts were silly and once I began to read, I forgot them quickly. This is not a quick read, it is a massive 600 page book, but it is worth taking the time to read. Each author brings something different to the book, their own knowledge, their own voices. It is never dry or boring in any spot. History is often thought of as boring, but for those passionate enough about it; it is never that. It is fascinating and all encompassing. I lost myself in this book and I am certain that other readers and historical fiction buffs will feel similarly. Ranging from pre-Roman to the 20th century, there’s something in here for every history buff because, let’s face it, we all have a specific time period that we all seem more drawn to than others. (For me, it’s the Tudor period.) I very much enjoyed each era and the stories told. I recommend this to everyone!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I have by no means finished reading this book as it is quite hefty; but I did want to give a quick shout out. I won this on a goodreads giveaway and have enjoyed reading it. It's very easily laid-out which I appreciated; the topics are one to two pages long; so I read a little each night on the different topics. It's a substantial read and great for referencing and gaining a little knowledge of a particular time in Medieval history; but I'm not sure I would enjoy it as far as just sitting down a I have by no means finished reading this book as it is quite hefty; but I did want to give a quick shout out. I won this on a goodreads giveaway and have enjoyed reading it. It's very easily laid-out which I appreciated; the topics are one to two pages long; so I read a little each night on the different topics. It's a substantial read and great for referencing and gaining a little knowledge of a particular time in Medieval history; but I'm not sure I would enjoy it as far as just sitting down and reading from page one to the end; it can become tedious. I think any Medieval history fan would greatly appreciate this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hunter Jones

    Loved this!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jule

    Extremely well researched and the variety of contributors gave greater interest to a long book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Randy Walts

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kyllie Green

  16. 5 out of 5

    Diane Condon-Boutier

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Cohen

  18. 4 out of 5

    Henny Penny

  19. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Swift

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ruth Dahl

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sybil Oliver

  22. 4 out of 5

    Steven McKay

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  24. 4 out of 5

    J

  25. 4 out of 5

    Giovanna Locatelli

  26. 4 out of 5

    andy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Holloway

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Bilyeau

  30. 5 out of 5

    Dorothea Jensen

  31. 5 out of 5

    Priya

  32. 4 out of 5

    Alison Stuart

  33. 5 out of 5

    Katie Nolan

  34. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly Barnes Hutson

  35. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Skea

  36. 4 out of 5

    Katie Langnehs

  37. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  38. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  39. 5 out of 5

    Shomeret

  40. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Fantom

  41. 4 out of 5

    Isabel

  42. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  43. 5 out of 5

    Erica Carver

  44. 4 out of 5

    Joy Adams

  45. 4 out of 5

    Stella Clarkson

  46. 4 out of 5

    Marcia

  47. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Kennedy

  48. 5 out of 5

    Alice

  49. 5 out of 5

    Trica Johnson

  50. 5 out of 5

    fluffysnow

  51. 5 out of 5

    Betty

  52. 5 out of 5

    SALLY WHITE

  53. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  54. 4 out of 5

    Todd Rumsey

  55. 5 out of 5

    Janet

  56. 4 out of 5

    Katharine Em

  57. 4 out of 5

    Ann Ellis

  58. 4 out of 5

    Karen Thompson

  59. 5 out of 5

    Janice

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