With roofs and walls cut away, medieval castles and related settings teem with tiny figures to spy out and on.
Packaged with a 3x magnifying glass that younger eyes, at least, probably won’t need, this companion to Egypt Magnified (2018) offers panoramic views of gore-free battles, sieges, and jousts along with feasts, festivals, and bustling markets—all aboil with hundreds of light-skinned microscopic figures. With a few exceptions, most notably a Syrian castle and a Polish one, the presentation is quite Anglocentric. Aside from Windsor Castle, seen under construction, and a cutaway billed as “like Carrickfergus” in Northern Ireland (a particular highlight, being riddled with dungeons and alive with prisoners escaping or being nondisturbingly tortured), the structures are generic and depicted without much regard for realistic architecture or perspective. The accompanying commentary likewise seldom goes beyond generic descriptions of knightly training, references to distinctive occupations (the “gong farmer” was responsible for cleaning castle “lavatories”), or such patronizing observations as “many people believed prayers could work like magic spells.” There is a key at the end for the dozens of specific items or people viewers are urged to locate throughout; it joins a picture gallery of renowned knights to cap an amiable, if far from authoritative, seek-and-find ramble.
Unvarnished infotainment for sharp-eyed Where’s Waldo fans. (glossary, timeline) (Informational picture book. 6-9)