Why did I love this book?
This is a book about much more than just the most famous of the Saxon kings, Alfred the Great. The narrative begins in 789 and runs to 955, and charts not only the ‘beginning’ of England, as we know it, but also the ‘end’ of the smaller kingdoms of Northumbria, East Anglia, and Mercia. One of the more recent of my book recommendations, Max Adams simply thinks about Saxon England the way that I do, and he’s able to weave a narrative that’s conscious of both the narrative sources for the period and recent archaeological advances. I often pick up his books (he’s written two others about earlier Saxon England) to make use of his timelines and maps. He has a lightness of touch and flair that makes even the murkiest of topics, engaging and more importantly, comprehensible.