Rating: 5 Stars
So, I love castles. I love looking at pictures of them, watching documentaries about them, reading books about them and, above all, seeing them in person. I've been lucky enough to see a handful so far in the UK and Ireland, and can not wait to visit more in the future.
Naturally then, when I see what I think is a book about castles, I have to give it a read. I found this in the library catalog and reserved it immediately, not paying attention to the 'audio' label until later. No biggie, I figured, I can do a book on cd - then Eleanor can learn too! So, imagine my surprise to find it was not actually a book on cd, but a lecture series by Professor Finan. So, I guess technically I should not be reviewing it here because it is not a book, but it was wonderful!
Now, it was not perfect by any means, and there were portions that were somewhat repetitive, but I still enjoyed this very much. The lecture covered a variety of topics, ranging from the different kinds of castles, their place in society and the landscape, as well as castles specific to England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and castles built in the Holy Land by various Crusaders. I found that I knew many facts presented already, though was not nearly as familiar with the earthen and timber castles as presented in the second lecture.
Additionally, Professor Finan clearly cares very deeply about the subjects he is presenting, and even says that the last lecture pertaining to the end of castle-building is his least favorite because he loves the topic so much. While he is not necessarily the most exciting lecturer to listen to, it is worthwhile to hear the material he presents.
There is also a study guide included that has summaries, questions, suggested readings, other books of interest, and suggested websites for each of the 14 lectures. These are available through the company that produces the lecture series (free, but with a shipping charge of course), and I am considering ordering one.
Overall, highly recommended. Very interesting series and I am curious to see what other lectures are offered by The Modern Scholar.
As always, here are MY favorite castles (all photos taken by me in 2009/2010)...
Inside the gate of Stirling Castle (Scotland, 2009)
Edinburgh Castle (Scotland, 2009)
At Windsor Castle (England, 2009)
Blarney Castle (Ireland, 2010)
Malahide Castle (Ireland, 2010)
Bunratty Castle (Ireland, 2010)
(The remains of) Dublin Castle (Ireland, 2010)