Part of the Oxford History of Art Series, this text on medieval architecture by Nicola Coldstream is an excellent survey of the development of architectural forms throughout the medieval period. Designed for the art major who is taking courses on architectural forms and history, the text provides a well-rounded presentation on the subject. Commencing with the derivation of the word "gothic," the book goes on to describe gothic's subsequent development as an architectural form through some five hundred years, and presents the differentiating features of the early, high, and late gothic, the flamboyant, and the rayonnant forms.
After this orientation to the term "gothic," the text moves into a section on "Structure and Design," which covers floor plan design, architectural models, the role of the architect, and constructive geometry. A large section of the book covers the symbiotic roles of patrons and builders. Later sections of the book cover issues such as architectural space and representational art in great detail. Numerous full-color diagrammatic images support the text, and maps are also used as needed, making this book quite an impressive introductory text to the subject that should orient any reader to the subject.
It is rare to find a book on such a theme that is simultaneously printed on high-quality semi-gloss paper, presented with the majority of its images in full color, be small enough to comfortably hold, and at the same time, be reasonably priced. This book, however, fits the bill admirably. The only small quibble would be that not ALL the photos are color. The majority indeed are, but it is unfortunate that, in an attempt, no doubt, to keep the cost down, a number of the photos are reproduced only in black and white. Nevertheless, and especially when one considers the price, it is pleasing to find the majority of photos are in color, and reproduced in good quality, as well. I highly recommend this book as an outstanding part of the library of a medievalist, an art scholar, or simply anyone interested in the emergence of gothic architecture. That the book is available at less than $15 is simply incredible.