REVIEW: Hardcore History – King of Kings III

Dan Carlin wraps up his Persian epic with a five hour marathon episode.

I’ve made the comparison before between a new Hardcore History episode, and your favourite band releasing a new album. Funnily enough, Carlin makes this same reference at the beginning of this episode, noting that this five hour conclusion to the King of Kings series, was akin to a band releasing a ‘double album.’

I must admit, I spent much of the first thirty minutes trying to piece together where we were at in the story, and I may not have been able to really take enough in to give any sort of recap. (Maybe we need a “Previously, on Hardcore History” before each episode?) I do remember the assembly line of Persian kings that Dan ran through, each with a sordid tale of how they reached power, and each with a violent tale of how they lost it. Brothers, mothers, wives, servants, eunuchs… all of them were involved in the extraordinary levels of deception, betrayal and bloodshed that reigned during this period. It begins to paint a picture of how the Empire started to lose its power, well before the young charismatic Macedonian boy came along to end it all.

As a regular listener of Dan Carlin, it’s been easy to pick up that he’s a a big admirer of Alexander The Great, a man he refers to as a ‘historical arsonist.’ When Alexander’s father Philip II enters the story, which paves the way for the young dynamic Alexander to make his massive mark on world history, you can hear the excitement in Carlin’s voice, and the episode really starts to gain some pace and traction.


Overall it was a refreshing new take on a story that often only has the main points plucked out of it, and I personally have never learnt so much about the depth and the history of the Persian Empire. The lack of good source material probably does hurt the story telling here, as it’s hard for Carlin to go into the dissection of famous quotes like he usually does, and his regular story flow does struggle to come to the surface. There are moments here where the story sounds a bit flat, because essentially, we just don’t know enough. But this is the problem with any story telling that deals with such old recorded history. I mean, it was a really, really long time ago.

One of the (many) things I admire about Carlin, is his refusal to change the business model that has served him so well since his humble beginnings. In podcast land, new content is king, and going months and months without any new content at all is usually a guaranteed way to lose your audience and your advertising coin. But Carlin is a pioneer in this industry; he has his fiercely loyal established audience, and he does things his own way.

I like that.

I don’t really like waiting three or four months for a new topic, but that says more about me than it does about Hardcore History.

This is yet another incredible free history lesson from the man who has sparked a renewed interest in it allĀ around the interwebz. Make sure you’ve got time to take it all in, as it’s most certainly worth the effort.

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Hardcore History - King of Kings III
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Matt Caton

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

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