Friday 26 May 2017

Review ~ Warriors and Kings by Martin Wall

Amberley Publishing

What's it all about..

For centuries, the Celtic peoples of Britain stood fast against invasion, oppression and war. Theirs is a fascinating and exciting story which birthed some of the most tenacious and heroic leaders in history: from Caractacus and Boudicca, to William Wallace, Owain Glyndwr and the legendary King Arthur. What was it that gave first the Britons, and then the Welsh, this fanatical will to hold out against overwhelming odds, over so many centuries? Martin Wall explores the mythology and psychology of this unyielding and insular people: their devotion to charismatic leaders they believed to be sent from God, and their stubborn determination "ne’er to yield" to oppression and injustice, whether Roman, Saxon, Norman or Viking, or the ravages of soulless industrialism.

My thoughts about it..

I don't claim to speak with any authority on the Celts. As an avid reader of historical fiction, I merely have a non-academic interest in finding out more about the people who shaped the early world. So for me, to have an easy to read introduction to the Warriors and Kings of Celtic Britain is both fascinating and informative.

I tend to read non-fiction history books in non-sequential order, much preferring to read snippets from chapters here and there which seems to appeal more to my sense of purpose. In Warriors and Kings, the author has given a thoughtful introduction into the Celtic world and over the course of the next sixteen chapter spans almost fifteen hundred years. A might ambitious, maybe, but no less interesting.

The book covers a huge area of history starting with the 'war mad' Celts of the pre-Roman era and extending to the Arthurian legend surrounding the once and future King and the search for the elusive Holy Grail, all is done with a fine eye for historical detail and a distinct enthusiasm for the subject matter. The author writes with authority and gives the reader enough information without getting too bogged down in interminable facts and figures which can so often spoil the enjoyment of reading a non-fiction history book. There is also an extensive bibliography and a useful index which is particularly valuable if , like me,  you want to reference something quickly.

On a personal level, and because I have just read an enjoyable fictional book set in Wales during the time of Owain Glyndwr, I was especially interested to read about the Welsh bard Iolo Morganwg in the chapter entitled, The Son of Prophecy.

I found much to enjoy and lots to learn in this book. I am sure that I shall use it as an aide memoir when I need some clarification on a period of history I enjoy learning more about.

Jaffa was especially thrilled to find reference to this poem written in the 9th century by an Irish Monk to his cat Pangur Ban...

I and Pangur Ban my cat,
'Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
'Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.
'Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Martin Wall inherited his passionate interest in local history and folklore from his father and has been writing about these subjects for ten years. He lectures historical groups on a variety of subjects and acts as a gallery interpreter in his spare time.

My thanks to Philip at Amberley Publishing for introducing me to this author and also for kindly supplying the review copy of Warriors and Kings



  1. I am fascinated with this era...thank you for this recommendation!

    1. You're welcome, Jo-Ann - if you are interested in the Celts then this book is a good place to start :)


Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffareadstoo appreciates your interest.