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Reviewed by Luke Kramer on Feb 20, 2012.
Medieval Combat: A Fifteenth-Century Manual of Swordfighting and Close-Quarter Combat
by Hans Talhoffer
268 illustrations 6 x 9 This brilliant and attractive new book makes one of the most influential fencing manuals of the middle ages available in English for the ...
* RECOMMENDED *
Reviewed by Luke Kramer
The first thing this book has going for it is availability. It is fairly easy to find and has a good amount of information for the price. It is mostly a collection of black and white plates, which are reproductions from the original manual, along with an English translation by Mark Rector. The translations are left without too much interpretation (although many of them have footnotes detailing certain trickier techniques in the back), and are usually only a couple sentences long. The pictures are of good quality, and it is usually easy to interpret what is going on in each play. As well as the standard longsword, wrestling, dagger, and polearm material, there is a fair amount of stranger weapons as well. There are instructions for use of the throated hooking shield as well as tactics for the judicial battle of a man vs. a woman, all of which give a unique insight into the period.
Since explanations are kept to a minimum, and there are no extra illustrations outside the ones from the original manual, it is best to go into this book with some knowledge of the Liechtenauer system. Expecting to learn the tradition from scratch using this book will probably not end very well. On the other hand, it is not necessary to have studied for too long. Just don't make this the first book you buy on the subject.
Updated Feb 20, 2012