Most of the books on my list-of-books-to-be-reviewed-without-
the-use-of-pseudish-cockwaffle are not history books. However, the review randomiser (i.e. asking bunn
to think of a number) has come out with another history book.
You might think, given the title, that this is not a serious history book at all, but some kind of children's book in which a plucky girl called Emma outwits and outfoxes nasty rough vikings. It is a serious history book, but actually, that description isn't far off. You probably haven't heard of Emma, unless you're already well read in early 11th century English history. You'll come away from this book thinking that she should be a really famous and important person in English history. She was after all, Queen to two different Kings of England (one of whom was also King of Denmark and of Norway), mother to two more Kings of England and stepmother to two more Kings of England (and great aunt to William the Conqueror). She was the richest woman in England and wielded considerable diplomatic influence across England, Normandy, Denmark and Norway. She seems to have been particularly influential in the transition from Viking rule of England to English rule.
The book itself is nicely written and despite its title it does a good job of explaining the various factions and the political and diplomatic situation. I was particularly intrigued by it because this isn't a period of history that seems to be covered much, either in popular culture, or by popular historians. For example, Simon Schama's 'History of Britain' makes no mention of Sweyn and Cnut's conquest of England. I knew a bit about Cnut, but I bet to most people he's the guy who couldn't stop the tide coming in. There seems to be a big gap between Alfred the Great and 1066 that nobody writes novels about and nobody makes films about and nobody writes history books about. That's surprising because a hell of a lot happens - and most of it is described in this book.
Very readable and I found it a very interesting period that I previously knew relatively little about. Highly recommended.