Top critical review
Highly detailed, but very heavy study of a neglected area
on 23 May 2016
I found this book very hard work. I was prompted to read it by starting a fictional series about the Sword Brothers. Not really knowing anything about them or the region, I searched for a suitable history; in truth there aren't many in English, and this seemed the best of the few.
On the positive side, there is masses of information in this work; almost too much for its length. It is thorough, and outlines all the many tribes, peoples and places of the region, and their interactions, both before and during the period under discussion.
For me, though, the problems outweighed the benefits. Firstly, that very detail was overwhelming. Page after page filled with purely factual events become very difficult to follow, and without any analysis it is also difficult to decide what is important and what is not. Secondly, as with so many Kindle versions of books, the maps are a major letdown. They are virtually useless on a Kindle, and my usual workaround - to open the maps on the iPad Kindle app - didn't work as the maps are not in that version. Trying to place tribes and places in an unfamiliar area without maps is virtually impossible.
In the end my view is that the author tackled a complex subject, but didn't see it through. He obviously has a comprehensive knowledge of the events of the period, but needed to do more than simply relate the facts. At 300 pages, the book is too short to cover the breadth of the subject. More analysis would have added much to the detail, and made the book far more readable to the interested reader.