Powers and Thrones by Dan Jones

Powers and Thrones Book Cover

Powers and Thrones
Dan Jones
Head of Zeus
02 Sep 2021


Dan Jones's epic new history tells nothing less than the story of how the world we know today came to be built. It is a thousand-year adventure that moves from the ruins of the once-mighty city of Rome, sacked by barbarians in AD 410, to the first contacts between the old and new worlds in the sixteenth century. It shows how, from a state of crisis and collapse, the West was rebuilt and came to dominate the entire globe. The book identifies three key themes that underpinned the success of the West: commerce, conquest, and Christianity.

Across 16 chapters, blending Dan Jones' trademark gripping narrative style with authoritative analysis, Powers and Thrones shows how, at each stage in this story, successive Western powers thrived by attracting – or stealing – the most valuable resources, ideas, and people from the rest of the world. It casts new light on iconic locations – Rome, Paris, Venice, Constantinople – and it features some of history's most famous and notorious men and women.

This is a book written about – and for – an age of profound change, and it asks the biggest questions about the West both then and now. Where did we come from? What made us? Where do we go from here?

“Powers and Thrones: A New History of the Middle Ages” by Dan Jones is an epic reappraisal of the medieval world—a rich and complicated legacy left to us by the rise of the West. Let me share my thoughts on this remarkable book:

In this meticulously researched work, Jones takes readers on a captivating journey through the tumultuous Middle Ages. Here are the key highlights:

  1. Scope and Ambition:
    • Jones covers a thousand years of history, from the fall of Rome to the emergence of Europe as a dominant force.
    • He weaves together the big forces that shaped the medieval world: climate change, pandemic diseases, mass migrations, and technological revolutions.
  2. Narrative Brilliance:
    • The author’s prose is both informative and entertaining. He skillfully balances historical accuracy with engaging storytelling.
    • Jones introduces us to a cast of fascinating characters—from St. Augustine and Attila the Hun to Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Prophet Muhammad.
    • Through intimate portraits and sweeping imperial landscapes, he paints a vivid picture of an era in flux.
  3. Themes and Transformations:
    • The collapse of the once-mighty city of Rome in 410 marked the end of an era and the beginning of profound transformation.
    • Successive Western powers thrived by attracting or sometimes stealing valuable resources, ideas, and people from the rest of the world.
    • The West rebuilt itself on the ruins of an empire, eventually dominating the globe.
  4. Legacy and Lessons:
    • As we stand at a critical turning point in our own millennium, understanding how the medieval world evolved matters more than ever.
    • Jones’s exploration of power dynamics, cultural exchanges, and societal shifts provides valuable insights into our present.


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