So, I enjoy historical books, particularly those about the middle ages and the renaissance, so when I saw this book on display on the library, it caught my eye. Since I’m going to an SCA event this weekend, this is probably the perfect time to put this review up.
The book is meant as sort of realistic and semi-cynical guide on how to be a medieval knight, covering everything from tournaments to warfare to economics. The book is generally a fun read. Because the tone of the book is meant to be for a “person of the period”, it definitely not very dry. The book’s tone uses a lot of humor, but it doesn’t resort to the sort of romanticism of works of the time. Additionally, the book does reference actual works of the period very regularly for the sake of demonstrating that the advice is actually practical.
There are still some faults with the book though. Because this is a book written in a tone for an audience of the period, but actually written for the modern audience, the writer does some stuff that is kind of hokey. For example, he has the “writer” saying stuff along the lines of certain remarks by Bill Gates about, say, how much memory a computer in 20 years would actually need, except they refer to cannons and various other countries. Some of the jokes were cute, like the aforementioned remarks about cannons. Others fall incredibly flat, like remarks about Switzerland never being interested in money, nor becoming mercenaries – when the book was “written”, Swiss mercenary crossbowmen and pike-men had already started to build up a reputation in Europe. I understand it’s meant to be “funny” but it just doesn’t really work.
That said, I enjoyed the book, and it’s something that I wouldn’t mind having in my library, with a few other books about the middle ages. However, if you’re looking for a more grounded look at medieval life, particularly with a focus on the concept of Knight, I’d recommend going elsewhere