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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The King in the North turns his attention to the obscure era of British history known as 'the age of Arthur'.

Somewhere in the dim void between the departure from Britain of the Roman legions at the start of the fifth century and the days of the venerable Bede, the kingdoms of Early Medieval Britain were formed. But by whom? And out of what?

Max Adams scrutinises the narrative handed down to us by later historians and chronicles, stripping away the most lurid nonsense about Arthur and synthesising the research of the last 40 years to tease out strands of reality from myth. 

His central theme evolves from an apparently simple question: how, after the end of the Roman state, were people taxed? Rejecting ethnic and nationalist explanations for the emergence of the Early Medieval kingdoms, Adams shows how careful use of a wide range of perspectives, from anthropology to geography, can deliver a picture of the emergence of distinct polities in the sixth century that survive long enough to be embedded in the medieval landscape, recorded in the lines of river, road and watershed and in place names.

©2021 Max Adams (P)2021 W F Howes

What listeners say about The First Kingdom

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-03-2021

Very interesting, but not in my truck

I listen to audio books in my truck. This book, although well written, and well delivered, and I do enjoy the subject, was impossible for me to follow while driving. Anything happens do distract me for ten seconds and I fall behind and I cannot catch up. I will try again in the house, with maps, sitting, alone.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 19-02-2021

Academic and accessible... oh, and enjoyable.

Max Adams strikes a perfect balance between the academic and the accessible in The First Kingdom: Britain in the Age of Arthur. I am perennially peeved when books about Britain turn out to be clearly – in your face - books about England, written by chaps for chaps. The First Kingdom is not like that. Max Adams uses the evidence that is, not what he would have liked the evidence to be, and so, what we get is clarity and reality - brilliantly written. Just don’t expect an historical Arthur. He is in the title because every post-Roman-Britain history book has to have Arthur in the title. This detracts from a reading of the title but not from a reading of the book. The narration by Kris Dyer is precise and engaging. The First Kingdom - highly recommended. Adam Ardrey
PS One thing only – Constantine, “tyrant whelp of the filthy lioness,” was from Damnonia, Scotland, not from Dumnonia, England. The Latin says Damnonia. This was “translated”, or, rather, 'changed' to Dumnonia in the English. Arthurian Sources. vol. 7, Ed. John Morris. This sets Arthur, not in Scotland, in England. No big deal - Even Homer...

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  • Shaun
  • 17-02-2021

Awful narration

The narration on this book is so awful that I can’t listen to it. It’s so robotic and unnatural. It actually sounds like C3PO and Siri had a baby.

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  • Elsa
  • 09-03-2021

Excellent book but not an easy listen

Excellent book but very robotic reader unfortunately. At times this made this interesting book difficult to listen to.

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  • Man-O-War1977
  • 24-02-2021

Awful narration

I was really looking forward to this but the narrator makes an already dry subject unendurable

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