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Books Features

New Medieval Books: From Dragon Slaying to Manuscript Making

Five new books to tell you about, including a graphic history of the Middle Ages.

How to Slay a Dragon: A Fantasy Hero’s Guide to the Real Middle Ages

By Cait Stevenson

Tiller Press
ISBN: 9781982164119

Excerpt: Five years ago, someone asked me whether medieval router has ever made plans for dealing with a dragon attacking their castle. I offered a few generic lines about the Dark Ages not actually being dark, and people knowing perfectly well that dragons are myths. But where’s the passion in that answer, where’s the imagination, where’s the history? How does it lead you into another world that’s also our own? Instead, I should have woven answers about how people dealt with fires racing from rooftop to rooftop in the Cairo slums, or imagined Londoners trying to fight air pollution. I’ve spent the past five years regretting my response that day. How to Slay a Dragon is my work of penance.

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Daughters of Edward I

By Kathryn Warner

Pen and Sword
ISBN: 9781526750273

Excerpt: Despite his reputation as a sternum and ruthless leader, it is apparent that Edward I loved his daughters dearly, and recognize their value. One of them might even, if her youngest brother had died in childhood as her three other brothers did, have become queen-regent of England. Edward I considered this possibility in 1290, and rather than stating he wished his throne to pass one day to his younger brother and nephews, declared that his eldest daughter should inherit his kingdom after him.

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God’s Shadow: Sultan Selim, His Ottoman Empire, and the Making of the Modern World

By Alan Mikhail

Liverlight
ISBN: 978-1-324-09102-8

Excerpt: One man, more than any other, made the Ottoman Empire this transformative global power that it was. Selim was his name, and although born of a sultan, he was never supposed to amount to much. The fourth of his father’s tens sons, he was born in 1470 and a small Anatolian town, the son of an enslaved concubine. Given his pedigree, a life of leisurely wealth and princely comfort was to be his lot – but it would lead likely be a short life, given the fratricidal maneuverings that often accompanied the death of the sultan and the accension of the next. Implaccable and unflappable, callous and visionary, Selim had other plans. The story of his life – the power plays that brought him to the throne, his military ventures and techniques of governing, his personal charisma, his religious piety – presents a sovereign narrative of how the Ottoman Empire made the modern world.

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Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers

By Mary Wellesley

Hachette
ISBN: 9781529400939

Excerpt: Manuscripts teem with life. They are the stuff of history, the stuff of literature, the material remains of the writerly act and the reading experience. But more than that, they are portals. They offer some of the only tangible evidence we have of entire lives, long receded. Manuscripts weren’t only made and used and loved by wealthy elites, they were also made by ordinary people. Manuscripts grant access to the stories of anonymous artisans, artists, scribes and readers, as well as people who aren’t always celebrated or discussed in our medieval history – people of a lower social status, women, or people of colour. Without manuscripts, many historical figures would be lost, their voices silenced, their stories erased, and the remnants of their labours destroyed. Sometimes their stories can only be hinted at, while at other times they become more fleshed out.

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The Middle Ages: A Graphic History

By Eleanor Janega

Icon Books
ISBN: 9781785785917

Overview: A unique, illustrated book that will change the way you see medieval history. The Middle Ages: A Graphic History busts the myth of the ‘Dark Ages’, shedding light on the medieval period’s present-day relevance in a unique illustrated style.

This history takes us through the rise and fall of empires, papacies, caliphates and kingdoms; through the violence and death of the Crusades, Viking raids, the Hundred Years War and the Plague; to the curious practices of monks, martyrs and iconoclasts. We’ll see how the foundations of the modern West were established, influencing our art, cultures, religious practices and ways of thinking. And we’ll explore the lives of those seen as ‘Other’ – women, Jews, homosexuals, lepers, sex workers and heretics.

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