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Reviews

  • Stunning: both exquisitely written and so very clever. By following the life of one little-known monk, John of Westwyk, Falk opens up for us the sophisticated and utterly different ways in which people in the Middle Ages thought and makes us question our assumptions about the medieval past.

    Suzannah Lipscomb, BBC History Magazine Books of the Year
  • Turns our understanding of medieval science on its head ... Falk shows how scientific inquiries central to the Renaissance actually began generations earlier than we thought, and despite our perception of the church as the enemy of science, those intellectual pioneers were often monks

    The Telegraph Books of the Year
  • As fascinating as it is exquisitely written . . . the range of mathematics, astronomy, and engineering is impressive. More impressive still is the elegance with which Falk tells the tale

    Tom Whipple, Times Books of the Year
  • Remarkable ... a book that illuminates not just the visionaries of the past but also the troubled state of anti-intellectualism in the modern world

    Financial Times
  • "Might it change minds?" is my criterion. The Light Ages might. Seb Falk's dazzling study of a late-medieval scientist is an uncontainably tentacular monograph, reaching from a windswept cell at Tynemouth, where John of Westwyck built an astrolabe, to penetrate unexplored recesses of the history and philosophy of science, and extending across Christendom into the cultures that surrounded and informed it. Falk excises errors about the Middle Ages without filleting their enchantment

    Felipe Fernández-Armesto, TLS Books of the Year
  • Unambiguously and successfully an antidote to the cliché of the 'Dark Ages' as a millennium of stagnation and regression . . . Falk's approach is to explain the things we share with our medieval forebears and the things we differ on: to reveal how they saw the universe

    Literary Review
  • Riveting. . . a brilliant study of medieval astronomy and learning . . . I agree with Falk. We need to give more respect to the giants of the Middle Ages on whose shoulders we stand

    Spectator
  • Fascinating . . . the Dark Ages were anything but dark; Falk's book is a lucid and eloquent reproof to anyone who says otherwise

    Prospect
  • Seb Falk lays out the wonders of medieval science. . . The mechanical clock, spectacles, advances in navigation, a grasp of tides and currents - these were among the achievements of the Middle Ages

    The Economist
  • A wonderful book, as at home bringing to life the obscure details of a Hertfordshire monk as it is explicating the infinite reaches of space and time. Required reading for anyone who thinks that the Middle Ages were a dark age

    Tom Holland, author of Dominion

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