8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2011
I try to be objective when I bother to write a review and if past opinions of mine on Amazon are to be considered, I can definitely not be portrayed as usually overgenerous in my average critique.
This book is the Best Osprey book I have seen for a long, long time. For those of us with more than just a passing interest in Mycenaean Greece it is inspiring, for those curious, this book has it all. Good text and excellent artwork.
Rava's illustrations are so very good, that it is obvious that he has all the talent to become a more than worthwhile heir to the briliance of the sadly missed Osprey illustrator maestro, Angus McBride.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a rather good - or even very good - Osprey title. One sign of this, for me at least, is that I finished it and wanted more. Perhaps it "could have been better", as another reviewer on the US site put it although, to be fair, it would have been difficult to achieve within only 64 pages. Yet another reviewer viewed this book as "a catalogue of weapons." This is true, but the book is also much more than that, in my view. This is largely why I liked and enjoyed this book, and this is also the point I will try to make in this review.
The scope covered in this book was particularly ambitious and goes well beyond describing the various weapons used and pieces of equipment, although there is this also, and it is rather well done and well backed up with illustrations, photos and plates.
I particularly appreciated the pieces on the so characteristic shields (tower shields, figure of eight and proto-dipylon) and the types of swords, daggers and helmets. The way the later are represented, in particular, illustrates rather well the evolutions between helmet-types. The pieces on armour and the section on chariots were also good, although given the scope chosen by the authors, I was left wanting more, in particular in the latter case (there is, however, another Osprey volume covering Bronze Age War chariots).
What the authors seem to have tried to do, and largely succeeding in doing despite the odds against them, was not only to describe the "Bronze Age Greek Warrior" between 1600 and 1100 BC but also to give a feeling of the Mycenean warrior culture. So the book is not limited to "arms and armour" and military organization, contrary to the rather limited scope that some Osprey Men-at-Arms volumes still adopt. It also includes the various aspects of warfare - naval warfare, sieges, the daily life of warriors and campaigns.
There is, however, a price to pay for being so ambitious. The book simply cannot - and therefore does not - go into as much detail on each and every aspect that the authors wanted to cover. So yes, indeed, the book "could have been better". It could then, for instance, have included an outline of the main chronological events and perhaps even a few vignettes on specific events or on the various states and Achean (or Mycenean) warlords that dominated during various periods. It could also, as another reviewer suggested, have included more examples of their very aggressive warrior-culture, piratical raids and expeditions and attacks against almost everyone in the Eastern Mediterranean. It finally could also have included a section on the rather mysterious "Sea People", some of which seem to have Acheans, and perhaps also something on the so-called "Dorians".
To achieve this, however, the book should have had at least the size of an Osprey Campaign volume (another 32 pages - 50% more than its current size), if not double its current size and that was clearly NOT possible, although I am quite certain that the authors and the illustrator would probably have been as delighted as their readers if it had been possible.
Anyway, and whatever its limitations regarding the amount of content that is included, one the main merits of this book is certainly to make the reader want to learn more about this little-known period. At least, this is how it worked out for me, and this is where I was a bit disappointed.
The bibliography seems to include either relatively old titles, or very specialized ones, with the most recent publications being Osprey titles. For instance, while Trevor Bryce's "Hittite Warrior" is referenced, I was surprised not to find any reference book on the Hittites (for instance Trevor Bryce's two volumes) or on the Myceneans, or even more generally on the Aegean Bronze Age (to paraphrase the title of Oliver Dickinson's book on this topic). I was also surprised not to find "the End of the Bronze Age" (to paraphrase yet another book title) and the catastrophe of around BC 1200 at least listed in the bibliography, especially since this book's scope, and some of its illustrations, cover the period up to 110 BC. Another little glitch, which another reviewer may have already mentioned, has to do with editing. There are one or two references to authors in the text that accompanies some of the illustrations which are not mentioned elsewhere, not even in the bibliography
Having mentioned this, and partly because I want to finish this review on a very positive note - but mostly because it is richly deserved - I must also stress that the illustrations are rather superb. I was almost tempted to say "as usual", given the illustrator's works on a number of other Osprey titles. As usual also, each of the characters presented in the various plates is adapted from archaeological findings (for instance the Dendra armour worn by the Achean prince on page 59, or from figures depicted on vases.
Despite limitations due to size constraints and to a selective bibliography (but then, as another author once said, a whole book would be needed for a comprehensive bibliography on the Myceneans), this is a good and valuable Osprey title.