Thursday, May 26, 2016

Castle (David Macaulay)

David Macaulay
Houghton Mifflin Company
Fiction, YA Historical Fiction
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: In the year 1283, as part of King Edward I's efforts to dominate the rebellious Welsh, the king grants Lord Kevin le Strange the lands of Aberwyvern, there to build a town and castle to spread English influence. The establishment, construction, and growth of Lord Kevin's foothold on the banks of the river Wyvern are documented here.

REVIEW: I suppose I could've classified this one as Nonfiction, but the fictional frame story, plus the fact that this is a hypothetical town, technically makes it fiction. In any event, Macaulay's classic book uses stunningly detailed ink illustrations to show the entire construction of one of the most iconic (and often misunderstood) buildings in Western history: the medieval castle. The meticulously-researched tale provides context and overview, telling the "why" not only of castle construction but of various architectural details, while the images show the process of creating a castle and fortified city from the ground (or below ground) up. Though Lord Kevin's keep gets put to the test by Welsh rebels, ultimately it's the town and the peaceable (and profitable) flow of commerce and ideas that does what fortresses and might alone could not: integrate two cultures into one reasonably-harmonious whole. As a kid, I doubt the writing would've held my interest for long, but the pictures would've kept me coming back time and again. As a grown-up, I can appreciate Macaulay's work all the more, finding it useful and inspiring.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Anatomy of the Castle (John Gibson) - My Review
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (Terry Jones and Alan Ereira) - My Review

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