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The Origins of Wizards, Witches and Fairies (Hardback)

Ancient History P&S History

By Simon Webb
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 20 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399000079
Published: 30th January 2022


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RRP £20.00

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This book tells the fascinating story of the origin of our ideas about wizards, witches and fairies. We all have a clear mental image of the pointed hats worn by such individuals, which are based upon actual headgear dating back 3,000 years to the Bronze Age. Carefully sifting through old legends, archaeological evidence and modern research in genetics, Simon Webb shows us how our notions about fairies and elves, together with human workers of magic, have evolved over the centuries.

This exploration of folklore, backed by the latest scientific findings, will present readers with the image of a lost world; the one used as the archetype for fantasy adventures from The Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones. In the process, the real nature of wizards will be revealed and their connection with the earliest European cultures thoroughly documented.

After reading this book, nobody will ever be able to view Gandalf the wizard in the same light and even old fairy tales such as Beauty and the Beast will take on a richer and deeper meaning. In short, our perception of wizards, witches and fairies will be altered forever.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Real though provoking book. I have always suspected that stories I was told as a child had a very, very long history and as I got older, I realized many were object lessons as well. I thought the the wizard link to a once living one-eyed man was amazing--and credible. It made sense! I am still a lover of told stories and never tire of researching for new ones. It's interesting to see how they are all connected and reach so far back in time. Simon Webb has really done his homework and come up with an amazing book. Story lovers are going to love this.

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins

Very well researched, it gives a good insight about where magic, witches etc comes from and everything in between. . I really enjoyed learning more about everything surrounding the Arthurian legend as it is my favourite since forever.

NetGalley, Josefa Torremocha

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow fantastic book and totally changed my perception of all things wizardry ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

NetGalley, Michelle Coates

I adored this book it was such an interesting read that delved into history along with popular wizards, witches and fairies from popular culture. I didn't want it to end I really enjoyed it.

NetGalley, Aria Harlow

So, let’s talk about the book…first off, it’s really good. The publisher tends to specialize in military themes, but lately they’ve been going off the beaten path and veering in all sorts of (to me) much more interesting and entertaining directions. Like this book. To be fair, the tone of it isn’t quite the jocularly charming one of their traditional diversions, but it’s nowhere near pedantic. What you get is a well-informed, well-presented and, despite the numerous digressions all of which with a purpose, pleasingly concise book that offers exactly what the title promises.
Since proverbially there’s nothing new under the sun, it shouldn’t surprise you to find out that the modern ideas we have of wizards, witches and fairies are actually based on centuries of historical past (some factual, some invented) and have profound and elaborate sociocultural bases. It is these winding paths that the author so expertly travels in this book from prehistoric constructs to much more recent ideas.
Pointy hats (or horned helmets) and magic wands will be explained, fairies will be linked to long-gone ancestorial branch, witches will be culturally contextualized. And, because of the excellently meandering ways of this book, it’ll take you from the beginning of civilization to present day and span an impressive variety of subjects, continents, eras, etc. A most striking accomplishment for such a slender tome, this book will not only educate and entertain, it’ll actually give you an entire new and informed framework for thinking about the cultural history of things we find ubiquitous in modern culture, be it fantasy tales or October window decorations and customs. Excellent read. Recommended.

NetGalley, Mia D

A compact and engaging book which explores the origins of our modern love of wizards, witches and fairies.

Although some of the evidence can be seen as coincidental, it is food for thought. Fairytales and folk stories are much older and darker than the Disney counterparts. Ritual killings from the Bronze Age are eerily similar to the means they murdered witches in England. Our ancestors cast their goods into pools, hoping to gain favour to the gods. In modern times, we throw coins into fountains and make a wish. Our school holidays mirror the Celtic year. It is fascination to see how ancient customs have become ingrained into our day-to-day lives to the point we take them for granted, and rarely stop and ask why.

If you are interested in our ancient history and folklore, it is an intriguing book to read.

NetGalley, Emma L Cox
 Simon Webb

About Simon Webb

Simon Webb is the author of a number of non-fiction books, ranging from academic works on education to popular history. He works as a consultant on the subject of capital punishment to television companies and filmmakers and also writes for various magazines and newspapers; including the Times Educational SupplementThe Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

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