Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Castle gives a step-by-step account of the construction of a medieval castle. Author and illustrator David Macaulay explains in the preface that Aberwyvern is an imaginary setting. The lord of Aberwyvern, his lady, his architect, and his enemy are imaginary characters. The only historical personage is Edward I of England (1239-1307). Aberwyvern is very similar, however, to real places in the northwest of Wales, especially Colwyn Bay. The castle and town at Aberwyvern are composites; their history and architecture are based on places that Macaulay visited and sketched.

King Edward was an aggressive ruler who tried to expand the influence of England in the British Isles. In Scotland, he fought against William Wallace (the “Braveheart” of modern cinema) and Robert Bruce. In Wales, he established settlements in strategic locations and rewarded his loyal followers by making them lords in the area. When King Edward rewards Kevin le Strange by making him lord of Aberwyvern, he recommends a master engineer, James of Babbington, as the architect for Lord Kevin’s castle.

The story begins as Lord Kevin and Master James sail to Aberwyvern with their workers, guards, and supplies. Macaulay’s architectural illustrations dominate the book; they are made with a drawing pen in black and white. They show the workers and the life of the castle at every stage of development. The story line explains the drawings.

Master James helps to...

(The entire section is 518 words.)