Aethelstan: The First King of England by Sarah Foot
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sarah Foot's Aethelstan is one of the few biographies written about the life of the West Saxon king, Aethelstan. The book covers every aspect of his life: Lineage, upbringing, travels, royal expenses, his Court, his private life and religious devotion (Aethelstan never married), and his success as a king who would rule all of England.
However, the mistake I made in reading this book, was that I chose to read it immediately following Neil Oliver's brilliant A History of Ancient Britain. I found myself constantly comparing how different the two were in the way they'd been written. Foot's biography, whilst containing a hefty amount of information, just isn't presented in a particularly interesting way. It feels hefty, daunting and, at times, completely overwhelming. It isn't free-flowing and it feels very academic.
I would not recommend this to anyone but the most ardent history-nerd who harbours a special interest in this particular era.