Adam Roberts writes a lot. In the space of twenty years he has written eighteen novels, seven novellas and three collections of short stories. He has authored or coauthored eight books of criticism and nonfiction, along with nine book-length parodies of famous novels. Four books by him have been released in 2018 alone, including his first volume of poems. He is prolific.
This insuperable will to publish may go some way towards explaining The Black Prince, which Roberts has adapted from a screenplay by Anthony Burgess. The novel’s events are based loosely around the military campaigns of Edward, the Black Prince, during the Hundred Years’ War. It begins with the Battle of Crécy in 1346, takes in Limoges and Poitiers along the way, and ends with the Black Prince’s death in 1376.
For the first hundred pages, the reader is bombarded with a series of almost entirely unconnected characters and storylines. We meet Joan of Kent, John Wycliff, Edward III and many others. There are faux-scholarly footnotes, and touches of humour: ‘Oo, they said. Oooo. The Os stacked up.’ One