• A Great and Terrible King

  • Edward I and the Forging of Britain
  • By: Marc Morris
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 18 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (914 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Edward I is familiar to millions as "Longshanks", conqueror of Scotland and nemesis of Sir William Wallace (in Braveheart). Yet this story forms only the final chapter of the king's action-packed life. Earlier, Edward had defeated and killed the famous Simon de Montfort, traveled to the Holy Land, and conquered Wales. He raised the greatest armies of the Middle Ages and summoned the largest parliaments. Notoriously, he expelled all the Jews from his kingdom.

In this audiobook, Marc Morris examines afresh the forces that drove Edward throughout his relentless career: his character, his Christian faith, and his sense of England's destiny - a sense shaped in particular by the tales of the legendary King Arthur. He also explores the competing reasons that led Edward's opponents (including Robert Bruce) to resist him.

©2009 Marc Morris (P)2015 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"[V]ivid details and an engaging narrative style bring the man and his period to life." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about A Great and Terrible King

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Narrator and Book are Both Very Good

Would you consider the audio edition of A Great and Terrible King to be better than the print version?

yes, the narrator really did a great job . Makes reading so much more enjoyable!

What other book might you compare A Great and Terrible King to and why?

"The Norman Conquest" was also a very good book by same author and also had a very good narrator. (Despite the negative reviews on the narrator of that book...I thought his way of reading was very interesting and fitted the history...((As does the narrator of this book by Marc Morris))

Which scene was your favorite?

not sure yet..as still "Reading " it

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no..this is a book to listen to again and again to get all the details fully understood

Any additional comments?

very happy with the book and performance of narrator

26 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

This is about the grandson of Bad King John, it is a detailed history without a lot of battle history or law but social history of the late 13th century. Unlike most biographers, the writer does not make the man into a hero that he clearly was not. It's a glimpse into a far distant time that is entirely relevant today.

26 people found this helpful

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Thoroughly Entertaining

I enjoyed this story of "Longshanks" life. While he was certaintly 'Hammer of the Scots' as he was purported to be--that man didn't give up on those guys, did he? But he was so much more. He also tamed the wild and wooly area now known as Wales and his son was the first Prince of Wales, a hereditary title which is passed on to the older son of the king from that time until now. He was a Crusader, albeit not a very successful one. He was the familiar with Pope Boniface, King Phillip IV, and many other leaders of his time. He had a frightful temper, yet he could be kind and generous. His people both loved him and at the same time didn't trust him not to do them a dirty turn. That was Edward I, an enigma, for certain!

25 people found this helpful

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Very good read for the serious medievalist

Interesting story, lots of action and plenty of controversy as goes with all things of the age, but a lot of detail if you are just dipping into medieval history. If you want to really want to understand Edward and the time, this is your book.

24 people found this helpful

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Detailed and fascinating

Marc Morris presents an enormous amount of information in a well-organized, accessible, and compelling narrative. My only real complaint is the time he spends in the last chapter rationalizing some of Edward's many flaws. For example, Edward banished all Jews from England: Morris admits that he was antisemitic, but defends him on the grounds - paraphrasing here - that so was every one else.

(I was also irritated that he issues a blanket denial that there is any historical basis for the legends of King Arthur. He may well be right, but I'm not willing to surrender my illusions that easily. Fortunately he didn't go after Robin Hood too - that would have been a definite deal-breaker.)

Edward comes across in the book as a man of intense concentration and single-mindedness, someone who could temporarily set aside one goal - going on Crusade - to pursue a different one - subjugating Scotland - but who always came back, as soon as possible, to the first goal. His problems were legion. He fought wars against Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and France, succeeding definitively only in the first one. He struggled to maintain the rights of the king, over against the rights of the people. He was a king cast from the assertive, warlike mold.

Ralph Lister is an excellent narrator, maintaining a clear and crisp pace throughout. Despite my nitpicking about this or that point, I enjoyed the listen and would - and will - definitely do it again.

21 people found this helpful

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Great book!

I'm really impressed with how much historical fact the author was able to pack into this book while maintaining a well written story line.

I truly enjoyed and recommend this book.

18 people found this helpful

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Good history

I enjoyed this well written history of a less discussed era of British history. My only quibble is that the reading was too fast for non fiction. I put my Sansa clip on slow speed and that solved the problem.

12 people found this helpful

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Not too bad, informative

I liked the information it was in depth. I just couldn’t get over the feeling I was listening to a history documentary from the BBC that a high school teacher picked out.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent look at Edward I

British and Western European history has been one of my main interests over the years, but most of the reading that I have done has centered on either the early period of Roman history from the founding of Rome through the end of the Roman Republic or on the last 500 years of British history. I had largely ignored the early medieval period and one of my concerns in reading this book was that I was not familiar enough with the period of understand the political and military cross-currents of the time that would make it easier to understand why people did what they did. Fortunately that was not an issue with this book.

Edward I and England's interests were many - the Crusades, Gascony, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Sicily, France and more - and the author explains each one of these in a lucid way, discusses who his advisors, opponents and friends were, why the issue was important and what actions, either successful or not, were taken. Edward I was a warrior king, constantly trying to raise money to fight battles, and Marc Morris explains how and why is actions defined what we think of as Great Britain today. Along the way he clarified for me many of the names I was familiar with, but lacked detail about - Robert Bruce, William Wallace, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, John Balliol, Roger Mortimer and others - and how and why they were important. I left this book not only having enjoyed the reading but also much more knowledgeable about that period of time in Britain and how the various forces were constantly jockeying for advantage.

The narration is first class, but not unflawed. While Ralph Lister does an excellent job, he also has a tendency to drop the final 's' in words. This is most common in his pronunciation of "Wales" as "Wale" although it occasionally shows up in other words - supporters, garrisons, officials and the like. I found it a bit annoying, but then the rest of his reading is so good and so clear that it is only a minor irritation.

In summary, this book is one of the best and most understandable biographies I have read and, in spite of the minor issue of the dropped 's', Ralph Lister's reading is so good I will buy the author's biography of King John, also narrated by Ralph Lister. If you are interested in this period of time this is an excellent way to learn more about it.




6 people found this helpful

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A good, significant story

Good topic, well told, narrator fine, but...
A narrative biography of the better sort
Recommended

5 people found this helpful