Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…


When I saw Crusades at the library, I knew that I had to read it. I mean, seriously, a book about the Crusades from Terry Jones of Monty Python fame? I had already watched the Medieval Lives BBC documentary series from Terry Jones and loved the way it debunked common myths about the Middle Ages.

Now, given the author and the purpose of this book, originally written as a companion to an A&E series, I wasn't expecting a lot from this book other than a rollicking fun read. I was surprised then to find that it closely followed the primary sources for the Crusades and took account of some really good scholarship to boot. It was a fun read, but it was also a good, solid introduction to the Crusades, written with an eye to telling a good story. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a broad overview of this complicated period in history. The only negative thing about the books was Jones's persistent cynicism, but of course that's only to be expected.

 4/5 stars