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Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors (CC&K #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  229 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A compilation of essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of real life stories and tantalizing tidbits discovered while doing research for their own historical novels.

From the first English word to Tudor la
Paperback, 498 pages
Published September 23rd 2013 by Madison Street Publishing (first published September 12th 2013)
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Helen Hollick
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Behind every good historical novel is a ream of in-depth research. The characters and the plot are important, but blatant errors of fact can ruin the enjoyment of a fictional adventure. Most modern Historical Fiction authors take great care to delve into the reality of the period they intend to write about, often down to the minutest detail. This book is a splendid source of interesting information gleaned to serve as a solid foundation to some very good novels. Castles, Customs and Kings is a c ...more
Aug 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge Historical Fiction fan. I can not consume enough about Kings and Queens and their Courts, the Ladies-in-Waiting, and lets not forget about those Handsome Knights and their jousting and sword fights. I love when a author can take me back in time, show me the beauty of our Royalty, from the castles they live in to the beautiful clothes they wear, to the Grand Masque's they had, and the dances they danced. All the while learning about our History.

Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales
Sarah u
I bailed quite early on in this book when I saw the line " was a hanging crime to speak his [Simon de Montfort, earl of Leicester, d.1265] name." Despite the title of the anthology, this is not true. This removed my confidence in the rest of the book so I won't be finishing it. ...more
Forrest Gump: My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

That is the perfect description for this book full of little bite sized true stories from Britain's history. Some are sweet, some are chewy and some are full of nuts, but all are immensely readable and educational.

This is not some dry history tome written by wizened old academics locked away in ivory towers, these are republished blog entries written by contemporary authors of historic
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm not a historian nor particularly interested in English history, but I do like oddities & to expand my knowledge. I got this for free for an honest review.

This is a lot of short essays on a variety of topics by historical fiction authors who have researched bits & bobs of English history. I like to listen to one or a few & then digest them, fit them into my previous knowledge & think about what they mean overall. Sometimes that isn't much since I'm not as well versed on the subject as I prob
Kathleen Kelly
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
British history? Yes please! Castles, Customs and Kings edited by Debra Brown and the late M.M. Bennetts and has essays from such historical fiction authors such as Katherine Ashe, Gillian Bagwell, Nancy Bilyeau, Sandra Byrd, Stephanie Cowell, Christy English, Barbara Kyle just to name a few, go here to read more about these authors and their work. These essays all come from these authors writing for the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog that was established by Debra Brown September 23rd 2 ...more
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy and am writing this about 2/3 of the way through (I will update when I finish the book). I am also not a fan of historical fiction. I rarely read anything on the fiction shelf and even less of books that do not relate to royalty and the daily lives of their subjects across all eras and continents.

I opened the book expecting to find something akin to a conference proceedings without "trained" experts. Instead I found a new appreciation for the meticulou
Tom Williams
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is not a book to be read from cover-to-cover. I read it on a Kindle (as an ARC, if you want the full disclosure). The paper version comes in at about 500 pages so it's a chunky read. In any case, it's an anthology, rather than a single narrative. An impressive array of historical novelists have each contributed a short chapter on some aspect of British history that interests them. Obviously, most have chosen to write about the eras that they cover in their novels. Many refer to their own bo ...more
Terry Tyler
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

This is a long book, and worth every penny! It's a collection of articles about the history of the United Kingdom, in more or less chronological order.

I admit to having not read all of them yet ~ I'd read loads, then had a quick look and discovered I was only at 28%, so after that I dipped in and out, depending on the subject of the article. There's so much to choose from: tales of conquests, information about the life of the common person of the time (I loved the mediaeval ones), to d
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
**I received an advanced readers copy for my review**

This book is made up of many short stories by several different authors. I imagine each author was able to pick and choose their favorite topic and it shows. As a reader you may pick and choose which stories you want to read and when. If, however, you start from the beginning as I did, you will find the book takes you on a journey through English history. And what a ride!

A couple of the stories came across as more scholarly than entertaining,
Diane Lewis
Aug 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
An eclectic gathering of true stories that showcase historical figures, historical places, quirky facts from the past, and much more
Regan Walker
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
A Treasure Trove of Information about England!

A compilation of short essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this hefty book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of articles with insightful information they have discovered while doing research for their novels.

There are nine sections:

1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 BC – AD 1000)
2. Late Medieval Period (1001-1
Helena Schrader
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Anyone who likes historical fiction -- or history generally -- will find "Castles, Customs and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors" a delightful source of "little known facts" presented in a logical and easily accessible fashion.

As Debra Brown explains in the introduction, the book consists of selected entries from the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog (http:// on which a historical fiction author posts an essay each day about a his
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Castles, Customs, and Kings is a collection of articles by various historical fiction writers detailing some of their fascinating research, one chapter each.

Some of the chapters are very enjoyable and have interesting information along with some sources, in case you are interested in delving deeper. Most of the articles relate to a specific novel, so you will find several fiction titles of possible interest as you read the background research.

The essays are arranged chronologically, beginning wi
InD'tale Magazine
There truly is too much to mention in this rich attempt at compiling England. It serves as a delightful addition to anyone who loves history.

Read full review in the 2014 February issue of InD’tale Magazine.
Robin Dalton
Sep 08, 2013 marked it as to-read
I just received this book today. It's very big. All I have done is skim through it so far but it is totally fabulous. An incredible book and produced beautifully! ...more
Sep 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Extraordinary, eclectic essays covering a diverse range of periods and events within history

A definite and unmissable must-read for the ardent historical fiction & non-fiction reader, as supplemental information and complimentary (additional) reading relating to England’s history. This compilation of true stories showcasing great historical figures, significant events, places and fascinating facts from the past is simply spellbinding. Additionally to the enthusiastic reader of this genre many n
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you love English history and are curious to go deeper into its fascinating past, Castles, Customs, and Kings is an unforgettable ride that will take you there while satisfying even the fussiest of history purists. An exceptionally thorough read on historical facts and stories, most of which have never been written about elsewhere before (that’s right- new history!), this compilation will blow you away with all the new information you will learn and relish.

From Roman Britain, all the way to t
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two weeks ago I said this "
It is so very difficult to tear myself away and to finish the books I have dates to review...Judith Arnopp, Carol McGrath, Paula Lofting, Sherry Jones, Nancy Bilyeau, Anne O'Brien, Debra Brown, Tim Vicary...Oh My!
The new favorite authors that I am finding.. Give me strength to put it down .."

So of course you see that I did not have the strength to put it down. Every night I had to read some more before getting to my "required reading" and now, somewhat regretfully, it
Sara W
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this book, and I'm about half way through it. This book is a collection of non-fiction essays by various historical fiction writers. Each essay stands on its own, so this has been a terrific book to jump in and out of (which is why I haven't finished it yet - I've been taking my time going through it). I found some essays to be more interesting than others, but that's to be expected considering how many authors and topics are involved. I thought the organization of the essay ...more
Sue Millard
Dec 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm still working my way through this but I'm finding this collection of blog entries both entertaining and informative. Arranged in chronological order from Roman times almost to the present day, the individual chapters vary in length, I assume according to how energetic the writers were in producing their posts for the English Historical Fiction Authors blog. They also vary in style. Some offer in-depth referencing so you can pursue a topic into academia and beyond, while some offer only light ...more
Margaret Breashears
Jul 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Anyone interested in British history will find Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors fascinating. The wide range of articles cover some of the isle's lesser known tidbits of history. As a whole, the work sparks as many questions as it answers, thus making it a wonderful jumping of point for serious historical inquiry or historical fiction. Many thanks to Debra Brown and M. M. Bennetts for compiling such an interesting work. ...more
It was a good book. lots of information from all eras and centuries of British history. I am one of those people that love certain periods of history while not so interested in others as much. Those parts that are my favorite are those eras and I loved the different authors opinions and their expertise on those areas. Other areas weren't as interesting for me but still very informative about the history. ...more
Aug 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book of essays and learned a lot. Knew I'd love it when I opened it up to Stephanie Cowell and her beautiful words. A lot o love went into editing this book, I think. It's perfect! ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great book. I was surprised that I knew so few of the authors who wrote a piece for this book and delighted to be introduced to their works which I look forward to reading. Interesting tidbits of information throughout British history.
Susan (the other Susan)
Night of a thousand zzzzz's. DNF ...more
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own, e-books
This is a compilation of short pieces by a whole group of historical fiction authors; limited to English history. A lot of the authors reside in England where history is constantly on display. [I’m Australian, we're scraping a mere two hundred years of Western civilization.]
A lot of the chapters are things researched for novels: places, people, customs, etc. Or things that sparked an idea that eventually became a novel.
Fascinating stuff and given there are so many of them, if one thing isn't of
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book was born from a blog (English Historical Fiction Authors); the authors took their favorites submission to this blog, and it shows.
While most of the entries are really interesting, some are nothing more than lists. Others are boring enough that I'm not sure I'd read the books written by those specific authors.
It's a good way to pass the time (I read most of it on planes, and stuck in airports), but nothing more.
I expected more. Slightly deceiving
Murray Ratings
Jun 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Really, really nifty fun writing. So, color me intrigued (mostly human beige with dark flecks and a heavy dose of pinkish read for the face flush).
Jul 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Hope this becomes a lengthy series of fine novels.
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Debra cut her teeth on the Bookhouse Books, which created a nagging longing to live in a land of castles and wear flowing gowns and exquisite headdresses. Though life kept her busy, she was eventually able to do so vicariously through the characters of her books.

Her first published novel, The Companion of Lady Holmeshire, is set in early Victorian England. Emma, a former servant girl, is chosen a

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