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Kings & Queens of England and Scotland - Plantagenet Somerset Fry

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Author: Plantagenet Somerset Fry / 96 pages / Publisher: Dorling Kindersley / Released: May 1999

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      17.08.2012 11:53
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      A handy basic reference guide

      The Dorling Kindersley book, Kings & Queens of England and Scotland, is a slimline reference guide to past monarchs. As a child I had a similar Ladybird book which I loved, and I thought this would be a great reference book as I am a big history fan.

      The book starts c. 600 AD with an overview of English kings (which tended to be regional, rather than national) and one dedicated section to Alfred the Great. At the bottom of each page is a timeline showing events from the relevant period, mostly pertaining to the reigning monarch at the time, but also other significant national and international events.

      After this we get onto the different 'Houses': Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors etc and at the front of each section is a family tree which I found very interesting, but would prefer if it was marginally more detailed, but as it is, it is very clear and succinct. Each king (or Queen) gets 1-2 pages which consists of a picture, a brief biography (date of birth, date of ascension, date crowned, married and died), a short bit about them and the timeline. After the English kings we get the Scottish kings since 843 until the two nations are united under the later Stuarts in 1603 and the book carries on until the present day.

      The book is only 96 pages long, so is not an in-depth book but does offer the reader the opportunity to dip in and out and refer to certain monarch or dates in history, which I like. As far as I am aware all the information is correct and this would make an ideal gift for a young person with an interest in history, to give them a bit of background.

      The book is beautifully presented, in colour, on good quality paper and I can see myself dipping in to it on a number of occasions. I read a number of historical biographies, particularly of royals and their key figures and keeping track of who is who can be a challenge, and this book can go some way to alleviate that, allowing me a quick peek at the family tree, or clarification on events occurring. The writing style is clear and accessible.

      The book was re-published in 2011. It acknowledges the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and Charles' responsibility in grooming his son and heir, but little mention of Charles himself as heir to the throne, and Camilla is not mentioned at all.

      The book RRPs at £6.99. My thanks to DK publications for sending me a copy to review. This review also appears on the DK website.

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