The Middle Ages: A Graphic HistoryThe Middle Ages: A Graphic History by Eleanor Janega
(alt: Openlibrary)

Top-line summary: if you find medieval stuff interesting and are looking for an entertaining survey, this is the one. Illustrator Neil Max Immanuel’s art has wonderful character, and Janega’s text doesn’t flatten personages’ personalities.

I intend to expand this review over time, partially because there are a couple cropped bits of illustrations that I really think serve as a bright-line test to whether you should read this book.

Even if this is Not Your First Pass at a general medieval survey, even if you are fully aware of a lot of Middle Ages Fun Facts, if you are not literally another medievalist scholar you will find interesting bits in this book that are new to you.

It was a right breath of fresh air that Janega gave some domestic history and e.g. mention of the sex work of the era. I am enough of a fan of her writing1 that I subscribe to her Patreon, so I had high expectations here, but I gotta emphasize this aspect relative to other medieval stuff that reaches for approachability.

Don’t get me wrong, the black-and-white look of the art is great if you get yourself in a woodcut mindset, but I do find myself hoping they’ll do a color edition someday.