Most helpful critical review
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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on 10 June 2013
Okay I had a moment of weakness and bought this book...I have been involved in martial arts for many, many years and have recently and sadly ended a five year exploration of WMA. I am also a scholar of the Icelandic sagas and Norse history in general.
The book is reasonably presented and basically features Mr Cummins commentary on techniques gleaned from Norse literature. The illustrations are fun and clear. The problem with the book is that more or less the same information is available for free from the Hurstwic site, while fencing with the large shield is covered by instructors on youtube, again for free.
Asides from the sagas there is little insight given by Mr. Cummins about actual fighting with early medieval weapons and the book seems largely concerned with offensive actions with them. The large shield has a number of particular dynamics which are not covered in the book yet are the chief concern of nearly all other works dealing with "viking" fighting.
The comparisons with Japanese martial arts are to expected given the authors background but he did seem only passingly familiar with Western sources. Talhoffer is mentioned a few times. This is relevant as there is a fair amount of information on shield fighting from European works which could have informed the book. I could continue but actually the first point I made is enough and is the most relevant. This information and more insightful,informed is available for free from other sources.