Baron César de Bazancourt treats us to an extraordinarily modern account of fencing, written in the days when both the sport of fencing and the art of duelling -- to first blood, or the death -- were equally prominent in a gentleman's mind. Written in 1862, this is the ideal source material if you are writing anything 19th century which features sword play. At the same time, because it comes after the point at which sixte, quarte and so one were established, the terminology is very modern, and Bazancourt's thoroughly modernising approach to fencing chimes well with modern technique.
Above all, this is a marvellously readable account, written dramatically as a house party conversation where Bazancourt promises to introduce his fellow guests to the secrets of fencing (though, in fact, he says that no such 'secrets' exist).
I bought this book as a whim at a fencing competition, and didn't really read it properly until working on a NaNoWriMo novel called The Impostor. I really had missed a treat -- Bazancourt was a military historian and novelist before he wrote this, and here we have the ideal union of a very taking narrative voice with a subject on which he was a leading international expert. I was also surprised by how closed to modern technique he comes. There are books written thirty years ago which seem more old-fashioned in their approach than this.
So, whether you want another take on your fencing, want authentic background for your researches, or just want to bask in a marvellous account well told, this really is a book to read.