November 2017 publication date
Ælfred’s Britain: War and peace in the Viking Age
Ælfred’s Britain is a portrait of the First Viking Age: but not like any other. Putting the famous king of Wessex into a broader perspective, the narrative explores the geographies and cultures of all those seeking to carve out kingdoms and identities over the 150 years after the first Scandinavian raids on Britain. This is a political history; even so, it’s archaeology which, in recent decades, has allowed us for the first time to paint a vivid picture of native and incomer alike; to see the Scandinavian contribution to Insular cultures in all its rich contradictions and to explore the interactions between the Christian and heathen worlds as they collide. With new insights into the Viking Age landscape, Ælfred’s Britain also offers some sharp and ironic lessons for our own times…
‘As the 8th century draws to its close bands of feral men, playing by a new set of rules and bent on theft, kidnap, arson, torture and enslavement, prey on vulnerable communities. Shockwaves are felt in the royal courts of Europe, in the Holy See at Rome. The king’s peace is broken. Economies are disrupted; institutions threatened. In time the state itself comes under attack from the new power in the North, a power of devastating military efficiency and suicidally apocalyptic ideology. It seems as if the End of Days is approaching. Out of the chaos come opportunities to shuffle the pack of dynastic fortune, to subjugate neighbouring states, to exploit a new economics and reinvent fossilised institutions.’
Published in hardback by Head of Zeus, November 2017
Max Adams is a critically-acclaimed author and biographer, an archaeologist, traveller and writing coach. His journeys through the landscapes of the past and the present, of human geography, music, art and culture are a continuing source of inspiration in his writing.
Born in 1961 in London, he was educated at the University of York, where he read archaeology. After a professional career which included the notorious excavations at Christchurch Spitalfields, and several years as Director of Archaeological Services at Durham University, Max went to live in a 40-acre woodland in County Durham for three years.
Max continues to manage woodland, and still lives on the north-west edge of County Durham, in a slightly more conventional dwelling. Max is also a musician, playing drums, harmonicas, Appalachian dulcimer and low-key whistle.
Max’s first historical biography, Admiral Collingwood: Nelson’s own hero, was published in 2005 to notable praise: ‘A compelling narrative’, Literary Review. ‘A lucid, compact style which is a pleasure to read …
Particularly effective in portraying the orchestrated chaos below deck in battle’, Spectator.
Two further biographies have since followed:
The Prometheans: John Martin and the generation that stole the future, (2010)
‘Max Adams has undertaken something new in The Prometheans; he has done it dazzlingly’, Miranda Seymour, Guardian Book of the Week.
And a Dark Age bestseller:
The King in the North: the life and times of Oswald Whiteblade, (2013)
‘A triumph. The most gripping portrait of 7th-Century Britain that I have read… A Game of Thrones in the Dark Ages.’ Tom Holland, The Times.
Max’s lifelong fascination with trees and their relationship with the human race, has found its expression in his 2014 The Wisdom of trees: A ‘fascinating, if quirky, exposition of all things woody… the book is a celebration of the plant from which it is made.’ Christopher Hurst, The Independent.
Max’s acclaimed sixth book, In the Land of Giants, (2015) explores the world of our Dark Age ancestors through embarking upon a series of ten journeys within the contemporary landscape. ‘It is impressive – though very much in keeping with the tone of the whole book – to see such awareness in action; and absorbing to note the results that can flow from such openness.’ Neil Hegarty, The Irish Times.
The Ambulist is the man who walks forever. Through the plains and vales of Northumberland, across fell and river, mountain and moorland, the nomad’s titanic figure is pursued by people determined to discover his past. He might be an innocent traveller, a terrorist or the Second Coming of Christ; who can say?
The first 500 copies of The Ambulist limited edition hardback are being offered exclusively, numbered and signed at personal event signings and direct from this website, priced £14.99 + P&P
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