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AD 500: A Journey Through the Dark Isles of…
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AD 500: A Journey Through the Dark Isles of Britain and Ireland (2005)

by Simon Young

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1072112,824 (3.29)9

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Interesting, well-researched overview of life in the British Isles in the 6th century, fictionalized as a guide for travelers from Byzantium. Some of the main text is extrapolated beyond the evidence specifically available for the British Isles, but is not beyond the bounds of plausibility, is based on actual research (e.g. continental and/or later practices), and is flagged as such in the endnotes. ( )
  sben | Feb 11, 2014 |
I was in the mood for some light non-fiction and when I saw this on the library shelf I thought it would fit the bill. It is definitely light and the concept had promise but the end result was disappointing.

The author describes this as fictionalised history ... not historical fiction and the idea is that a scholar in Byzantium is transcribing the log book of an expedition to the British Isles with the idea of the Emperor reclaiming Britain as part of the empire. The time is 100 years after the Romans withdrew the legions and Britain is shown as a barbaric and dangerous place to be. OK the author does base his account on some archaeological and historical accounts but he seems to have chosen the more outrageous possibilities and one by one the members of the expedition meet their end until only the log is left to return to Byzantium.

I guess Simon Young's intention was to present his information in a quirky and interesting form but for me it doesn't quite deliver. Not totally bad but not a book I would ever want to re-read and this one doesn't make me interested in finding out whether he has written anything else. The notes and sources do provide some ideas for further reading though. ( )
3 vote calm | May 27, 2012 |
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The Dark Isles, the Pretanic Isles, the Islands of the Earth's End, the Tinny Isles, Brittania et Hibernia, Albion and Ierne, the Sacred Isles, the Cannibals' Isles, even, laughingly, the Blessed Isles... For we Byzantines, who dwell in the gentle Mediterranean, Britain and Ireland have proved, by whichever name they travel, a gathering place of wonder, the imagination and yes, nightmares.
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It describes a journey which begins in Cornwall and continues through Wales and Ireland, then across to Scotland and eventually down to London and southern Britain. It is a dangerous world, full of tribal war, there are social pitfalls too. Here are the realities of life in the sixth century AD. AD 500 is based sqarely on archaeological and historical evidence, and reveals the range of different customs and beliefs that existed in post-Roman Britain. With the narrative of the Greeks providing a condescending and often hilarious running commentary on 'the barbarians', this journey through the islands provides a vivid and original picture of life in the Dark Ages.… (more)

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