on 7 October 2007
This is a colourful and comprehensive book about heraldry for the beginner, with a wide range of material and lots of good pictures. My chief complaint is that the sister title "Living Heraldry" is largely a selection from the same text and illustrations - and no way to tell the similarity until after you've bought them both. There's another book out this autumn, which is the "Complete Encyclopedia of Heraldry and Flags", but which looks as if it might well recycle the same material a third time - hence the warning!
on 9 April 2006
It's very doubtful if this book was needed at all - introductory books on heraldry abound, and several more recent ones, such as those by by von Volborth and Neubecker for instance, are international in scope. Interestingly neither of these authors' works appear in the Bibliography, while the listing includes a number of excellent sources from which this author seems to have gained little benefit. This book regrettably, contributes nothing new, and the title is pretentious nonsense - publishers surely have a responsibility to use terms like 'Complete' with far more circumspection in book titles.
The book is, however, well produced and generously illustrated, although a number of illustrations appear more than once, and the book is also lavishly decorated with items for which there is no caption and no key, which renders them valueless. Good use might have been made of the Glossary by linking it to the illustrations to show where the term being defined can be seen. In any heraldic work with claims to comprehensiveness all the arms depicted should also be blazoned.
The book seems to be aimed at the American market, but that does not excuse such solecisms as referring to 'King Edward VIII of England,'or confusing 'nobility' with 'peerage' especially in this context, while other errors are merely sloppy, such as 'Campbells of London' instead of 'Loudoun' to give just one example. The author's taste for flowery language gets in the way of precision also - one wonders what kind of mirror would be needed to reflect a wind of change! In other contexts that would matter less, but the whole point about heraldry is that it is not only an art, it is a science, in which terminological exactitude is a necessity as well as a virtue, and is the justification for producing this type of book at all.
As seems to be the custom these days an impressive list appears on the copyright page of people involved in the production of the book, but three grades of editor and an editorial reader among them have failed to eliminate typographical errors such as 'Slaveish,' or (on the same page) to recognise that one example of his work is incapable if showing an artist's versatility.
If readers have access to other more reliable (and 'complete') works, this might be worth having for the illustrations and examples. As an authoritative work on its subject I am afraid it doesn't warrant a recommendation.
on 27 July 2006
This is very much a coffee table book, in large format with glossy pages. It is profusely illustrated with heraldry from all over the world, and not only the British Isles as in most of the standard works on heraldry. There is colour on every page. It has a readable text and shows a sound and thorough knowledge of the subject but it is certainly aimed more at the interested general reader than the heraldic technician. That is no bad thing, and this is a book which can be read and enjoyed with pleasure by all. A modern work on an ancient subject with enduring appeal.
on 14 September 2008
Mr Slater's books on Heraldry are richly illustrated in colour (befitting the subject) and are very readable and descriptive. They really bring the subject to life.
One issue I have however is that he has published a number of books on the same subject and it is very difficult to identify which one to purchase (hence the four star rating). I have seen at least four different but similar titles (my comments above are based on the first listed): `The Illustrated Book of Heraldry: An International History of Heraldry and its Contemporary Uses', `Heraldry Today: The Ancient Art and its Modern Applications' (also known by the title `Living Heraldry'), `The Complete Book of Heraldry: An International History of Heraldry and its Contemporary Uses' and `The World Encyclopedia of Flags and Heraldry: An International History of Heraldry and Its Contemporary Uses'. All are published in the last few years and there may be others - things are further complicated by the fact that the same book can have different ISBNs (that's the case with mine anyway).