Friday, 31 January 2014

I won (again)

Blog giveaways are happening all over the place now, and I've entered a few. The last time I won I had to put in quite a bit of effort, and the result was winning the Heropress competition with my graphic origin of 'the Hand'. This time all I had to do was leave a comment on Daniel Mersey's blog saying who my favourite knight of the round table was and briefly explaining why (My answer was of course Sir Bedwyr the wise!). The random roll of a D20 and I was the winner! My prize was three books from the Osprey Myths and legends series: King Arthur, written by Dan himself; Thor and the recently released Robin Hood. Fantastic! Dan duly dispatched these tomes to the opposite side of the Earth, and they arrived yesterday. I opened them eagerly to find:
That's right - they misspelled Thor!
Not only does Dan Mersey write cracking wargames rules, useful magazine articles and enjoyable books, he can also time travel (no wonder he knows so much about the Dark Ages) because Troy is not due to be released for another two months!

I was looking forward to Thor, having started collecting comics in the golden age of Walt Simonson's run on the Marvel mag, and still having the fondest memories of the Thunder God (and Frog). But there was no experience of disappointment upon finding Troy. The complete opposite in fact. I have read the Iliad over and over in the last two years as I teach it to my Year 11 Classical Studies students. I've purchased 28mm armies from Black Tree Designs for the period intending to use yet more of Osprey Publishing's output in the form of the 'Of Gods and Mortals' rules. That my daughter is named 'Cassandra' is no accident. All in all, I am a bit of a 'Troy-head'. 

Si Sheppard has done a great job of retelling the whole story of the Trojan War, from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis to the escape of Aeneas. It is actually refreshing to read a book about the war that does not dwell upon archaeology and evidence for its historicity, but focuses on the epic and its heroes. Maybe there are lots of books out there that do this, but they aren't the ones that I've been reading. The art by Jose Daniel Cabrera Pena is moody and beautiful. I particularly love the plate with the three goddesses vying for Paris' judgement over the golden apple - all three women are gorgeous, but the look of contempt that Aphrodite is giving Hera is absolutely priceless. The double page spread of the battle for the ships is incredibly atmospheric. On reflection I'll probably be getting a class set of these to accompany the Iliad for my students (who to be honest start to get a little weary of Homeric similes after a while - but they do a pretty good job for 15 year olds).

Robin Hood and King Arthur are also great books (I had already bought King Arthur as an E-book, but to be honest I'm much happier with the tangible version - I didn't like the layout of the e-book). I really enjoyed reading through the tales of Robin, and there is a section devoted to possible historical prototypes which I found enlightening. Each of the main characters are looked at in turn to trace their development throughout time in various re-tellings. Do I now feel like getting some feudal figures for a skirmish game? What do you think...? Actually, feudal figures are the next boat on the horizon as later this year Dan Mersey's next ruleset for Osprey, Lion Rampant, will be coming out.

In all I would unreservedly recommend all three of these books. To my mind the Myths and Legends series along with the Wargames series, are absolute winners for the Osprey stable.

So many thanks to Dan for running this competition. The prizes are being appreciated a great deal. The next step is that as a condition of entering the competition I must have a giveaway of my own. The idea as originally conceived by Captain Arjun of Cor Blog Me was to offer up some rulesets or books that I had bought but wasn't using and offer them to someone who might have a use for them. I have some in mind, but will wait a couple of weeks until school calms down a bit before I run it.



  1. Congratulations on another win. Rather envious of your Troy prize. Osprey's Myths & Legends line has been one triumph after another for me ( as I'm more about the myths than pure history).

  2. Thanks Tim. Don't miss Troy when it comes out, then. Definitely worth the 11 quid!

  3. Always good to land a freebie, nice one!