Friday, January 28, 2011

Books on Weaponry: Book Review

So a while back, I had to do some work on describing magical weaponry. Not being a weapons person, I had first to go to the library and find some books--and there's a scary lot of them out there, let me tell you, even if you're trying to concentrate on more stone age to medieval weapons and not to look at all the shelves full of modern ways to blow things up Anyway, here are some I found useful and otherwise in my meanderings. I've tried to note which section of the library they were in, in case you're looking for a particular age group:

Warriors' Weapons by Walter Bueh: I needed a Weapons 101 and this turned out to be surprisingly suitable. It did not convince me that weapons were my new passionate interest in life, but I did end up reading past the portions I strictly speaking needed, looking at castle building and sieges, so hurray for Bueh! I think the library had this stashed in Young Adult.

Eyewitness Books Arms & Armor by Michele Byam I love Eyewitness Books (thanks Greg for reminding me of them. I picked up a couple non-weaponry ones just because). They do such an amazing job of packing together information and pictures, lots and lots of really lovely pictures. Again, I found myself moving past the medieval stuff, fascinated to learn that dueling pistols used to come with "Do it yourself" bullet molds. The dueling pistols also came in matched pairs, and the book doesn't say why: Were duelists given two shots? Or were they supposed to supply the challenger with a weapon if he happened to have forgotten to pack his? Now, instead of being Through With Weapons, I have something else to look up! Shelved in the kid's section.

Weapon : A Visual History of Arms and Armor. DK Publishing, Roger Ford
Roger Ford (Contributor), R. G. Grant (Contributor), A. Gilbert (Contributor), Philip Parker (Contributor), R. Holmes (Contributor): This one was a bit of an overload. It's huge, at least as crowded with illustrations as the Eyewitness Arms & Armor, and packed full of information. For my purposes, it was a bit of an overkill, but for people who seriously want a "Weapons 101" covering everything, this is a really, really good place to start. Oh, and it has an awesome section of "strange weaponry" and a really good picture of elephant armor. Shelved in the grown-up section of the library.

Ancient Weaponry: From Clubs to Catapults by Michael Woods and Mary B. Woods: By the time I got to Ancient Weaponry, I was winding up my research, so I mostly skimmed it. It merits mention, though, for being the book that told me about the Ancient Greeks molding insults into the bullets they made for slings and thus undoubtedly warranting a much fuller read than I gave it. Shelved in the kids section.

Weapons & Warfare : From the Stone Age to the Space Age Not a bad overview, but bear in mind it is a kids book and covering a ton of territory. A bit redundant if the above books are already in your book pile.

Armour & Weapons by Charles Ffoulkes Um. See, this one was written back in the nineteenth century. It's interesting as an example of a nineteenth century antiquarian's view of things, and I did love his fussing at the beginning that the ancients just didn't understand the importance of their old armor and inconsiderately melted the stuff down when they were through with it,  but.... as a quick research source, it's a bit of a wash. Shelved in the grown-up section.

Arms and Armor (Then and Now) written by Adrian Gilbert, Illustrated by James Field: This one was great because it grouped the weapons by type more than country or century, so all the bows and arrows were together, the staff weapons (a particular area of ignorance on my part) in another, armor in another, and so on. A handy overview from the children's section.

There were a couple of others I skimmed, but really, after these, it was mostly skimming for the odd fact.


  1. Glad it worked out for you!

    The game-weapon street does go both ways, for anyone who's interested in geeking out more about this. For a fun (if conspiratorial) history of how games games influenced war, Ed Halter's "Sun Tzu to XBox" ( is a good read.

  2. Sorry to nag, but what's the latest news with TBH?

  3. You're allowed to nag :)

    I don't really have any new news. I'm waiting for Jason to get back to me on some rewrites. Then... we'll see!

  4. Hi.

    Out of curiosity, how many people are a part of Planewalker Games? and how many are actively working on Broken Hourglass?

    From everything I've seen and read about this game, I'll definitely be purchasing it whenever it is released.

  5. I heard Jason is going through some tough time. I hope TBH will still go ahead (I know, I'm being selfish but we waited so long >.>)

  6. Anon #1--Planewalker Games has been focused entirely on The Broken Hourglass. I have not met everyone involved, by any stretch. The list I have lists 42 people on it; I've primarily worked with Jason & Paul, myself.

    Anon #2: Me too.