REVIEW: Hardcore History – King of Kings II

The king of podcasting Dan Carlin returns with the second installment of his Persian Empire epic, the King of Kings.

Today, like a 90’s teenager eagerly ripping the plastic cover off his favourite band’s new CD that he just bought, I got to digitally unwrap brand new stuff from Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series. I may have said this before but it merits repeating; it was worth the wait.

If I was being totally honest with myself, I’d admit that I’d forgotten much of episode 1. I’d only given it the one listen, and you need to give these podcasts at least two runs to let it all sink in, which I’ll also have to do with this latest one, being that it crept a decent amount over the four hour mark. Not that you’d notice, if you get as enthralled as I do.

Carlin opens this episode by looking at the Persian succession to Cyrus the Great through the lens of history being a crime scene. He considers that there are so many differing accounts and lost in translation moments in ancient Persian history, that Historian’s need to act like criminal investigators as they sift through the limited sources, art, architecture, diplomatic correspondence and snippets of information they have at their disposal. It’s an interesting little story-telling device to contrast varying versions of stories, and Dan delivered it like a pro.

Coming straight out of his exhausting six-part World War 1 series Blueprint for Armageddon, into another multi-part series, has highlighted the loss of one of Carlin’s more popular podcast forms, the ‘one-off’ episode. Prophets of Doom and Thor’s Angels are still two of my favourite episodes, and the old BLITZ episodes were always interesting as well. Thankfully, he seems to address this point himself, taking a rather large aside in the back half of this episode to discuss the psychological impact on ancient warfare on the soldiers of the time. It’s a fascinating discussion and it comes at a time when the overall story itself is starting to drag ever so slightly. This break in action still allowed the story to be set up for the next episode though, which as Dan hints at in his spoiler, will cover one of the most famous wars of all time.

It’s not my all-time favourite topic he’s ever done, but the episode is still a fantastic spin on a much-told story, and you should find yourself the (plenty of) time required to absorb it all.

The King is back.

 

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Dan Carlin's Hardcore History - King of Kings II
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Matt Caton

Matt is a freelance writer, content marketer, comedy geek and podcast evangelist

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