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King and Emperor reigns supreme

The Week in Review

Janet L Nelson's King and Emperor: A New Life of Charlemagne (Allen Lane) has won the fealty of the critics, with the Spectator's David Crane describing it as "a wonderfully generous sharing of knowledge that combines the conversational tones of the ideal classroom with the intensity of the trained anatomist, poised, knife in hand, to reveal the musculature beneath the skin". Levi Roach in the Literary Review was equally enamoured, writing, "The general reader may occasionally be left disoriented by the resulting twists and turns, but this is a small price to pay to see one of Britain’s—indeed the world’s—leading historians ply her trade. If Nelson expects a lot of her readers, it’s because she has so much to offer." Mary Wellesley of the Daily Telegraph comments that Nelson notes early on in the book that 7,000 charters survive from Charlemagne's reign—"You can believe she has looked at every single one, so thorough and expansive is this work of scholarship," she adds.

Louise Doughty's Platform Seven (Faber) also chugged into the reviewers' hearts, with The Bookseller's fiction previewer Alice O'Keeffe declaring it "as gripping and brilliant as anything I have read this year". Zoe Apostolides in the Financial Times praised it as "wonderful", writing, "Highly literary, by turns tragic and redemptive and gloriously strange, it’s a wonderful book: both a warning and a well-crafted, pacy arc of cause-and-effect." Alison Flood in the Guardian described it as "a scarily plausible story of emotional abuse and coercive control", adding, "It is, finally, desperately moving."

Oisín Fagan's debut Nobber (John Murray) also won acclaim, with David Hayden in the Guardian pronouncing it "bloody and brilliant", adding, "Through precise, vivid language, both vertiginous and beautifully controlled, it creates a world as real and unreal as our own, which exists in a dark, deracinating dialogue with ours, now and as it might be in the future." Houman Barekat of the Irish Times praised its originality, writing, "As a work of narrative fiction resembling a cross between a medieval picaresque, a children’s adventure story and one of the historical 'Carry On' films, Nobber occupies the intersection of a Venn diagram nobody even knew existed."

Kiera O'Brien, charts and data editor, The Bookseller

Janet L. Nelson

4.43 out of 5

5 reviews

A major new biography of one of the most extraordinary of all rulers, and the father of present-day Europe Charles, king of the Franks, is one of the most remarkable figures ever to rule a European super-state. That is why he is so often called by the French 'Charlemagne', and by the Germans 'Karl der Grosse'.

Louise Doughty

3.90 out of 5

11 reviews

As he sits on the metal bench at the far end of the platform it is clear his choice is strategic - he's as far away from the night staff as he can get. What the man doesn't realise is that he has company. She knows what he is about to do as she tries and fails to stop him walking to the platform edge. Two deaths on Platform Seven.

Oisin Fagan

4.13 out of 5

4 reviews

A wildly inventive and audacious debut novel from the author of Hostages