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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading.
Another quality publication from Osprey. Timothy Dawson clearly displays his extensive academic and practical knowledge of this subject. I thought the text contained a little too much back history and was expecting more of a technical analysis, especially from someone who actually fabricates the arms and armour discussed in the book. Not quite sure of Dawsons statement...
Published on 21 Aug 2009 by A. M. Richardson

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly superficial
After Tim Dawson's Byzantine Infantryman, an informative, attractive book, with many new and interesting ideas, I was expecting better. Mr Dawson is a knowledgeable, talented historian and re-enactor and has produced better work in the past, but here it seems he wasn't even trying.

The volume falls short on many counts.

My foremost complaint is the...
Published on 30 Oct 2009 by Chitanous Exoskeleton


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointingly superficial, 30 Oct 2009
By 
Chitanous Exoskeleton (Tighte Sphincter, Oxfordshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior) (Paperback)
After Tim Dawson's Byzantine Infantryman, an informative, attractive book, with many new and interesting ideas, I was expecting better. Mr Dawson is a knowledgeable, talented historian and re-enactor and has produced better work in the past, but here it seems he wasn't even trying.

The volume falls short on many counts.

My foremost complaint is the excessive amount of 'padding' - background info on the Byzantine empire. Osprey books are not long, the Warrior series has just 64 pages. Take away 4 pages for imprint, contents, index, another 8 for the colour plates and 4 more for captions to the same, and we are left with just 48 pages. Now, why are 12 pages (25% of the text!) wasted on a general introduction and chronology, material that we can look up on Wikipedia?

Whole sections of the book repeat, almost verbatim, text from the Byzantine Infantryman book. Several photos are repeated too. This is quite unforgivable, and a sign of slackness, not only by the author, but also the editors.

The glossary is useful, but is so loosely typeset that it extends over four pages. With a little attention from the editors it could have been set down to two. Similarly the chronology sprawls over more than four pages, when it could easily, and far more attractively, have fit on two.

There is no bibliography or further reading list. OK, so it would be futile to list all the works consulted, but even a single page would have been useful, and would have added some academic credibility.

The artwork does not match the inimitable style of Angus McBride in the Infantry volume, nor would anyone expect it too. Good illustrators in this field are a rare breed and they are to be encouraged rather than negatively criticized. There is however, a great deal to improve here, and I'm not clear where the fault lies, perhaps in the briefs supplied by Tim Dawson? (Readers may not realize that Osprey colour plates are based on detailed drawings supplied by the author.) The worst plate is F (Horse equipment), which is woolly and two-dimensional with hardly any detail. Throughout the book the armour for the horse's head looks unconvincing, like something out of 'Gladiator'. Surely there are historical analogies? Also, the horse-barding goes all wrong in the neck area. An unsettlingly large number of the plates show troops only from the back - making for poor compositions - does the illustrator dislike painting faces?

My biggest criticism is reserved for the text, which is full of generalizations and rarely quotes evidence. For example, mace-head styles are illustrated (in a horrible computer-generated style) but we are not told any findsite names/dates and there are no reconstructions (except perhaps in plate C, or is that a baton; why nothing in the caption?). Far too often the text degenerates into a turgid list of the names of items of armour and clothing, without any colour or anecdote. To quote the great Richard Feynman, when you only teach people the names of animals all they learn is the name, nothing else.

There are too many bland generalizations. For example we are told (p. 53) that Katafraktoi rarely charged other cavalry, but were reserved for 'smashing substantial infantry formations'. What is the evidence, and why are there no examples from actual battles? This should be the meat & two veg of the book, yet it is covered in barely a few lines.

Otherwise the black and white illustrations are generally of high quality, with a few I've never seen before.

This is most definitely not Tim Dawson's best work, and is an indication of him resting on his laurels and, more worryingly, of the increasingly lax editorial standards at Osprey.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Awful..., 21 April 2013
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JPS - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior) (Paperback)
I was very disappointed by this title which turns out to be even worse than the previous title on the Byzantine infantryman 900-1204. It duplicates (almost verbatim) significant sections of this title, published a couple of years before. Unfortunately, this duplication means that the errors are ALSO duplicated, in particular the dozen or so contained in the chronology and all those in the background section at the beginning of the book. This shows that the author did not even bother to check this section and just cut and pasted it from his previous title. Accordingly, all of the comments made for this previous are also valid for this one.

Also, rather than using up valuable and limiting space with a glossary of terms (3 full pages!) and photos of the author dressed up in what he believes to be the equipment of a byzantine heavy cavalryman, listing the various works that he has consulted would have been more valuable for the reader. There is simply NO bibliography at all.

There are two redeeming features in this title (hence the two star rating), although both suffer top some extent from the absence of a bibliography. One is the author's detailed descriptions of equipment, which is obviously his strongpoint, or at least the part that he really is interested in.

The other is the illustrations by Giuseppe Rava. I particularly liked the one on, page 55 showing the fully-armoured Alexios Komnene escaping from the battlefield of Dyrrakhion in 1081, with the amount of protection largely explaining how he managed to get away from the pursuing Norman knights that intended to kill or capture him. Even this, however, is somewhat problematic. While his and his horse's armour would have protected him from most weapons, it would probably not have allowed him to outrun his Norman pursuers, which he did. So the scene drawn from Anna Komnena's Alexiad seems to have been somewhat "interpreted" by the authors here to show the Emperor as a fully armoured "Kataphractos".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Poor Publishing quality, 6 Oct 2012
This review is from: Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior) (Paperback)
Production quality of product is poor. The cover was the wrong way up and the pages inside were bound down the wrong side and back to front. Amazon do not replace defective products with good ones they only offer refunds so was rather disapointed.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading., 21 Aug 2009
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This review is from: Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior) (Paperback)
Another quality publication from Osprey. Timothy Dawson clearly displays his extensive academic and practical knowledge of this subject. I thought the text contained a little too much back history and was expecting more of a technical analysis, especially from someone who actually fabricates the arms and armour discussed in the book. Not quite sure of Dawsons statement that lamellar armour was never used after 1204 when there is so much artistic material from the period that says otherwise. Giuseppe Rava has produced some nice colour plates though not up to the standard of the late Angus McBride who usually handled the Byzantine books. Overall a good book and an essential buy for anyone interested in this subject.
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Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior)
Byzantine Cavalryman c.9001204 (Warrior) by Timothy Dawson (Paperback - 10 Aug 2009)
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