Just so we’re clear, I love reading these Osprey books.

I’ve loved reading them since I were a wee little boy in school, though back in hose days it had more to do with the pictures than the history contained within; I’m super mature now so I enjoy both.  So, how to review one of these books, it’s a bit of a difficulty because it’s the fist time I’ve written a review for a non-fiction book.

To start with I would say that these books are perfect for anyone wanting to dip their toes into a piece of subject matter.  Though I knew little bits and bobs of facts here and there, I knew very little in terms of what one would consider concrete knowledge.  I am writing a book in which there is a city state very much in the mould of medieval Germany and I wanted to firm up my knowledge on the military side of things.  This did not disappoint, it is very well laid out and written in such a away that those new to the subject such as I could easily understand it, though manages to do so in a way that is not patronising in the slightest.

The author seems to have an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, as you would expect of someone of his academic background.  His intimate knowledge of the subject matter enriches the book, at several points through the book he tells short and amusing anecdotes that serve to lighten tone.  This is good, as due to the subject matter it can be a little dry at times, though this is not a downside as it is something you would expect of a book of this type.

The illustrations are outstanding also.  There are several pages of full colour illustrations, these show you how people of the time might have been dressed and the weapons they would have used.  The maps too are outstanding, they are simple enough to follow, whilst displaying the movements and dispositions of the armies in battles.  Then there are the diagrams, they give the layouts of castles of the time, as well as showing how the insides of buildings would have been laid out.  The photos, though old and showing their age now, are still relevant to the subject matter and so do not seem out of place.

To sum up:  The book is well put together and extremely well written, an excellent start to those new to the subject matter.  The illustrations and picture pages are brilliant and provide some excellent viewing.  Overall, an excellent read that does exactly what you’d expect of a book of this type.

Rating:  Five out of five stars.

Those wishing to purchase a copy of the book can find it by following this handy little linky.