The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones (Review)

The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings by Dan Jones


A chilling medieval ghost story, retold by bestselling historian Dan Jones. Published in a beautiful small-format hardback, perfect as a Halloween read or a Christmas gift. 

One winter, in the dark days of King Richard II, a tailor was riding home on the road from Gilling to Ampleforth. It was dank, wet and gloomy; he couldn’t wait to get home and sit in front of a blazing fire.

Then, out of nowhere, the tailor is knocked off his horse by a raven, who then transforms into a hideous dog, his mouth writhing with its own innards. The dog issues the tailor with a warning: he must go to a priest and ask for absolution and return to the road, or else there will be consequences…

First recorded in the early fifteenth century by an unknown monk, The Tale of the Tailor and the Three Dead Kings was transcribed from the Latin by the great medievalist M.R. James in 1922. Building on that tradition, now bestselling historian Dan Jones retells this medieval ghost story in crisp and creepy prose.


This story was originally part of a set of stories written down by an unknown monk in the fifteenth century. The medievalist and novelist M. R. James found these gems in 1922 and transcribed them. Dan Jones has now taken one of these stories and retold it in modern day prose. 

The story is set in the time of King Richard II and focuses on a tailor. On his way home this poor tailor encounters something terrifying and hideous. This poor tailor is then given a warning and if he doesn’t heed this warning there will be dire consequences for him. 

The story is a short story and was perfect for reading whilst enjoying a cup of tea. I didn’t find the story very scary but I did find it a bit gruesome at times. I also felt very sorry for this poor tailor who I really do not think deserved his treatment by the spirit. 

The book also contains the original latin which once my latin is better I hope to have a go at translating myself and seeing what the original story reads like. Overall, I enjoyed this little story but it didn’t wow me so I give it 3 out of 5 Dragons.


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About the author

Dan Jones is a historian, broadcaster and award-winning journalist. His books, including The Plantagenets, Magna Carta, The Templars and The Colour of Time, have sold more than one million copies worldwide. He has written and hosted dozens of TV shows including the acclaimed Netflix/Channel 5 series ‘Secrets of Great British Castles’. For ten years Dan wrote a weekly column for the London Evening Standard and his writing has also appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, Smithsonian, GQ and The Spectator.

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