3.5 out of 5 stars
As Terry Pratchett said, “Imagination, not intelligence, made us human” and we as a species have been telling stories for thousands of years. And until the advent of paper, these were an oral tradition, told between individuals who passed them on in turn. The stories that have come to make our own mythology have in their own way defined who we are now to an extent. In those stories, you can find dragons, giants and other creatures that have not walked these lands in millennia.
The stores that Jeffs has chosen to make up this collection have been split into four chunks, In the Beginning, where she retells the story of how Albion got its name from and the naming of the Humber and the Severn. In the prehistory section, some of the selected stories include how Conwenna saved Britain and the Dragons that Lived Under Oxford. Merlin and Arthur feature heavily in the Antiquity section and the stories in the Middle Ages section bring us right up to the Norman invasion.
I mostly liked this retelling of the myths and folklore that permeate our history. It is beautifully illustrated, and I liked that the stories had been updated to a modern language. That said, I did have a couple of problems with it, even though the stories are written in a modern language Jeffs has taken the liberty to alter some of them subtly too. I personally don’t think that this is necessary as the original stories as we know then are strange and occasionally defy explanation for a reason. The second reason was that after each story was a little vignette of her visiting the place where the events were supposed to have taken place and they felt a bit bolted on. I would have preferred them to be as part of the introduction or afterword to each chapter.