Friday, 30 October 2009

Book Review - The Spartan Army!

Right then.

I have been interested in doing a book review for some time now so I thought I would chose an easy subject and one that many people may of read. My first review is the Spartan Army by Nick Sekunda published by Osprey!

I can honestly say that I am one of those people who have a large collection of Osprey books but have read a mere handful. In fact I think its only two. When I mean read, I mean read from the start to the end and not just taking a mere glance when I need to know what colour a Macedonian tunic should be or the colour of Royal Navy Battleship turrets in World War 1.

As I wanted to do a review I chose a subject that currently intrests me and one that would probably intrest many others, know small part due to the 300.

The book is part of the elite series of osprey titles and seems to follow the usual Osprey trend of a brief introduction and history of the subject peoples followed by a discription of their weapons, armour and appearance.

As well as this you get a number of colour plates in the middle of the book (altough this seems to be changing in later books) which are accompanied by plate discriptions at the back. There are also various black and white imagaes dotted around the text showing artifacts such as shields, statues and a whole host of other treasures. So far so good.

The artwork (Richard Hook) is fantastic and really does capture the imagination of the reader. The detail is excellent and I feel that Mr Hook has done an excellent job in showing the development of the Spartan Army. My knowledge of Spartan appearance is not to a high level but it was reassuring to see that Mr Hook hasn't placed the Lambda on the Spartan shields at Thermopylae and instead used them for Spartans during the Peloponnesian War. Such consideration for historical accuracy (or as near was we can get it) is always welcome to a stickler such as myself.

The content of the book is generally excellent. I am a fan of Nick Sekunda's work and he clearly has a passion for ancient Greek history. The information in the text was very informative and, importantly, very readable.

Whilst Mr Sekunda has mainly focused on the Hoplite side of the army he has included some information on its cavalry and light troops to.

As ever the subject matter has been throughly researched with a lot of primary sources being used. This, in my mind, enhances the reliability of the information given.

My only negative comment would be that I would of quite liked some information on the Spartan army after its defeat Leuctra at the hands of the Thebans. Although, arugably, the Spartans played less of a role in the Greek political world after this time, it would of have been intresting to see how the Spartans adapted to new troop types such as Macedonian phalangite and the thureophoroi.

Apart from that I overly enjoyed the book. It is well written and provides a good basic introduction into the Spartan army.

Rating 4:5