The Dynasties, Volume 1

  • by Christopher Lee
  • Narrated by Anna Massey
  • 3 hrs and 59 mins
  • Original recording Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Anna Massey tells the story of some of the ambitious families who helped shape the history of the British Isles and have wielded power behind the scenes for the past 1000 years. The Dynasties relates how the loyalties of this privileged elite, many of whom are older than the monarchy itself, were tested and rewarded: it also uncovers a multitude of murderous plots, bloody battles, adulteries, intrigues and shocking executions. In this first volume, three powerful houses are examined. The Godwines counted amongst their number the Earl of Wessex, who helped make Edward the Confessor king, as well as Harold II who fought the Battle of Hastings. The north-dwelling Percys produced Hotspur, who Shakespeare immortalised; whilst the royalist Despensers won land from the Welsh but were destined for a violent end.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

a brief look at British History

This book is only 4 hours but lots of material is covered in the time frame. Christopher Lee tells the story of some of the ambitious families who helped shape the British Isles. He starts with Ethelred and then to the Godwine family including Earl of Wessex who as head of Godwine family put Edward the Confessor and Harold II on the throne. He discusses the Percy's of Northern England including Hotspur, who Shakespeare immortalised. The book goes up to the civil war. I assume Volume two will carry on the history. Great for an overview of the subject. England had so many Edward's, Henry's, William's and George's it is had to keep them straight, this book helps one do so. Anna Massey did a good job reading the book.
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- Jean

Stellar tales of English history

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I would recommend it. The narration is easy to understand, and the writing style is very brisk yet includes a lot of detail. It's a relatively short book, but you get to know each of the personalities in the powerful families. Makes learning history a lot of fun!

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Dynasties, Volume 1?

Learning a lot of facts about the kings, especially Harold. I had never heard some of the main points of his life story before. All I knew about were some battles he'd been in. In this audiobook, I picked up a lot more.

What does Anna Massey bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Her voice is warm and she handles the dramatic tones very well. She lends the narration as much enticing sonic strength as an actor in a play.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Wanted: man of strong character for job in politics. Must not mind intrigue, skulduggery, large hats.

Any additional comments?

There is one problem with the audiobook. For some reason, the last two shorter segments repeat the end of the second major section. We hear the entire stories of the Despensers and Percys twice. This is some kind of production mistake, and the BBC should post a re-edit with the corrections, to ease the listener's experience.

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- Donna

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-01-2012
  • Publisher: BBC Worldwide Limited