Review of In the Land of Giants by Max Adams

In the Land of Giants Book Cover In the Land of Giants
Max Adams
Head of Zeus
September 10, 2015

A bestselling historian tells the story of the landscapes, peoples and culture of early medieval Britain through ten walks and an epic sea voyage.


I found In the Land of Giants, by Max Adams, a very accessible read and fairly well laid out. It contains narrative from a series of walks. Each walk is accompanied by a map and at least one relevant photo. Interspersed between each walk is a narrative of a walk along & around Hadrian’ Wall. The book contains a “plate section” with some very nice images in however I’d probably have been happy to see them in their relevant chapters. My copy was an ebook so that may not be the same in a paper copy.
There are a couple of appendices which I appreciated. One has information on the distances travelled on the journey. The other is a very useful timeline of the Dark Ages. The addition of notes and particularly “Recommended reading” is very good.  While a little “left field” maybe the chapter/note on “Who are the British?” I found really interesting.

The walks take place in locations that have very deep histories. Some are now quite small and largely little heard of backwaters. Others, London would be a good example, have continued to develop and change since the Dark Ages. The style of writing makes for easy reading and there is fascinating background information about the places that Max Adams passes through on his walks. As archaeology is a major interest of the author’s it is unsurprising that there is some very good information about this aspect in many places visited.

Indeed there are a variety of aspects or information about almost all of the places visited and here lies my slight problem with this book.  I’m really not quite sure who it is actually aimed at.  I fully understand why the author undertook the journeys he did however, other than walks and the Dark Ages, the focuses seem quite broad.  In practice the narrative wanders far past the Dark Ages.  For the London-Essex walk changing landscapes over the centuries could almost have been the theme and I enjoyed that.  However it leaves me unsure just who will really “get” this book.  There are stories in here that would interest historians & sociologists, walkers & those with an interest in mythology for example, I simply hope that those who might be interested in this book find it and enjoy it.  It is a rich and varied read and will reward those who have an interest in rambling and wide ranging subject.
Disclosure – I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.