Wednesday 25 February 2015

Time to Review the Evidence: Traitors of the Tower

As promised, here's my review of Alison Weir's Traitors of the Tower. I'm still trying to work out the best, most useful, and most refreshing ways to review books on this blog so please have patience and let me know what you like!

Alison Weir Traitors of the Tower Quick Read review

Title: Traitors of the Tower
Author: Alison Weir
Genre: Non-fiction
Series: Quick Reads

A few starting notes:

This is a short and interesting book by the historian Alison Weir. It's part of the Quick Reads series - an excellent series funded in part by literacy charities, skills agencies and the Welsh Assembly via Basic Skills Cymru. This series is worthy of being praised to the hilt - short, easily digested books by top authors on a variety of subjects. This is an affordable series (though I borrowed mine from the library) at the incredibly reasonable price of about £1.99 per book. Appropriate for the reluctant and the avid reader alike.


This is a work of non-fiction focussing on 'traitors' who have been executed in the tower of London (does what it says on the tin!) It's set into chapters, with each chapter really being a standalone piece in its own right, as each deals with an individual 'traitor.' It's set out chronologically (in time order of deaths.)

Best bits:

The length means that this is a book you can stick into your lunch-breaks or train-journeys. The way the structure works with the different chapters means that you can read a chapter and then have a ready made break to the next one. The way Quick Reads describe their series is as a shot - and I think that's pretty accurate: short, distilled, enjoyable.

The author is knowledgeable; Alison Weir knows her stuff, and writes confidently, slimming down her normally intensely detailed writing into its core components to give an overall impression of the events.

The whole of the book is planted firmly in the Tudor period (which Weir knows well,) which is as popular and interesting as ever. What's so good about this book however is that not only does it include the big names (Anne Boleyn; Katherine Howard,) but it also includes names which are a little less well known (Lady Jane Grey; Margaret Pole,) which means there's plenty to interest you.

Not so great bits:

Sometimes the writing seems a touch forced - as if the slimming down purpose has caused it to lose some of its sheen, this is only occasional but is noticeable in some parts.

There's no debating the details here - now, I don't mind this, but some history buffs wouldn't be so thrilled. I think it fits the series though, so it's really not too much of a minus point.


This is a great book to fill in those in-between times such as breaks, or waiting at a doctors surgery. It's accessible to those who don't have a lot of time, and those who maybe aren't so confident in reading, while still absorbing and interesting the reader. A job well done by Ms Weir.

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