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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

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PostPosted: Wed 27 Dec, 2006 1:02 pm    Post subject: A book: The Crusades by Yli Remo Vallejo         Reply with quote

One of my christmas presents happened to be this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Crusades-Yli-Remo-Valle...03-9981512

I find this book has much to recommend it, as well as an equal number of things working against it.

The book is beautifully illustrated with a huge number of color plates, many of them full and two-page illustrations. These are very well executed from an artistic standpoint by russian artist Igor Dzis. Unfortunately the historic merit of these illustrations does not quite equal the artistic value. Many of the illustrations of the earlier crusades depict armor a bit more developed than would have been found during the period. Example: page 24 depicts Tancred de Hauteville leading the assault over Jerusalems wall during the first crusade Tancred carries the appropriate kite-shield but wears the fully developed mail defenses of a century later. There are also depictions of kettle helms and other items of kit that wouldn't have been seen in the late 11th century. These are small niggling things but they really shouldn't be there in an historic work.

There is also quite a bit of slavic or balkan styling to the armor elements on many of the figures. There is quite a bit of scale and lamellar armor shown on figures that wouldn't have worn it, helmet styles that don't fit with western european styles, etc. This is understandable given the artists ethnic origin. Still, this element does detract from the accuracy of the work. The biggest thing I do like is the artists use of color. A wide array of colors are used to illustrate clothing and the adornment of armor. This is a far cry from the commonly held misconception of plain steel and brown leather and is nice to see.

The text makes the common error of judging the european crusades in microcosm, rather than taking a more accurate cause/effect approach that would help judge them more accurately. The short bit of text at the books end that deals with the ongoing effects of the crusades is handled in a much better fashion than the coverage of the events leading up to them. However, since this is basically an Osprey-type book on steroids this minimalistic coverage is expected. The text does provide a good overall timeline of the people and events of the crusades and the book is worthwhile in this respect. Unfortunately the portion covering equipment is laden with misconceptions such as the heavy "broadsword" and provides information that is really too simplistic to provide the uneducated reader with an accurate viewpoint. The portion of text covering the military tactics of both sides is far better balanced and provides a much better educational overview.

In the end this book is very enjoyable to look at and some of its literary aspects are worthwhile. However, while it obviously has merit as an addition to a larger library, it has too much working against it to serve as a stand-alone resource on the crusades.
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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

Posts: 552

PostPosted: Wed 27 Dec, 2006 3:54 pm    Post subject: Re: A book: The Crusades by Yli Remo Vallejo         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:

The book is beautifully illustrated with a huge number of color plates, many of them full and two-page illustrations. These are very well executed from an artistic standpoint by russian artist Igor Dzis. Unfortunately the historic merit of these illustrations does not quite equal the artistic value. Many of the illustrations of the earlier crusades depict armor a bit more developed than would have been found during the period. Example: page 24 depicts Tancred de Hauteville leading the assault over Jerusalems wall during the first crusade Tancred carries the appropriate kite-shield but wears the fully developed mail defenses of a century later. There are also depictions of kettle helms and other items of kit that wouldn't have been seen in the late 11th century. These are small niggling things but they really shouldn't be there in an historic work.

There is also quite a bit of slavic or balkan styling to the armor elements on many of the figures. There is quite a bit of scale and lamellar armor shown on figures that wouldn't have worn it, helmet styles that don't fit with western european styles, etc. This is understandable given the artists ethnic origin. Still, this element does detract from the accuracy of the work. The biggest thing I do like is the artists use of color. A wide array of colors are used to illustrate clothing and the adornment of armor. This is a far cry from the commonly held misconception of plain steel and brown leather and is nice to see.


When reading your review I had a flash thought on how you see the armor and equipment in most histories or chronicles that are illustrated and written in a later era seem to use the same equipment style in use in the era they were written. So it seems this same "effect" continues to some degree in the present day. ;-)
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