This is going to be a very short and sweet review. The Book of Swords by Hank Reinhardt is an incredibly good read for those of you interested in the history and development of pointy things. The major selling point of this book for me is that it reads like a friendly conversation. You get the feeling of sitting around a table while a man who has devoted most of his life to studying blades shares his knowledge with you. Yes, he rambles from time to time (as he admits himself) but all of those ramblings are just as interesting and informative as the rest of writing. I have read a great number of books on weapons and the history of arms over the years but this one has easily become my new favorite and taught me a few things I didn’t know.
If you’re wanting something dry and scholarly, keep looking. Some of Reinhardt’s theories are nothing more than guesstimates, based on a lifetime of study, but still guesstimates. However, he also actively tested his theories, hacking and slashing with replica weapons to find out how they really worked.
It is a shame he died so soon but it is fortunate that we have a book like this to share his life’s work.
I have a giveaway running now on Goodreads. Two signed print copies of my book Valda Goes Through Hel are up for grabs. You have until the end of the month to sign up for your chance to win. Contest is open to the US, Canada, Great Britain and Australia.
Astronaut Reid Wiseman has been tweeting some very cool pictures from space. He is well worth the follow if you are into the whole Twitter thing.
Yes, I put a young girl through Hel and wrote a book about it. :-) The Kindle edition is finally up on Amazon (You can buy it here) and a print version will be following shortly. Here’s the cover copy:
The young Dwarven girl Valda is finally and truly a Valkyrie. She has earned her place as a servant of the Norse gods. She is finally free to travel beyond her ancient mountain home. That’s when Odin sends her on a mission that brings her straight back to her ancient mountain home.
There she discovers Draugr, the zombies of the Norse world, are threatening the city. Her search for the person behind this threat takes her all the way to Hel, the land of the dead. She can at least be grateful that Loki isn’t the one behind this deadly plot. Then she learns that the Trickster is the only one who can help her stop the undead threat. How can she find her biggest enemy and convince him to help her?
This adventure has our spunky Dwarven Valkyrie going through figurative Hel as she receives one of the worst punishments a Dwarf can suffer. Then she journeys to the literal Norse land of the Dead and meets it’s queen – Hela.
This book is part of the Valda & the Valkyrie series, an ongoing story that takes you on a wild ride, galloping through the people and places of Norse mythology, while throwing in plenty of twists and turns that stay true to the spirit of the sagas. The series is suitable for readers of all ages who are looking for a light-hearted, adventurous story.
One of my goals for the year is to bring a more organic feel to my art. That’s not the easiest thing to do considering most of my art is created in vector programs. So I have been lugging a sketchbook around with me and trying to draw more during my lunch breaks. I have been drawing a lot of dragons lately and trying to model them after some of the animals in old Norse knotwork. (I can also see some Aztec/Mayan influence in there as well.) I did a quick color and ink job on one of the sketches and wanted to share it with you all. It is rough but I think I am heading in the right direction.
I just finished reading The Normans: From Raiders to Kings (Full disclosure, I received a free review copy from Crux Publishing via Librarything.com) and I can heartily recommend this book. Most people probably have a very limited idea of who the Normans were, their knowledge not going beyond “those were the guys in the Bayeax Tapestry.”
Lars Brownworth‘s book fills in the gaps, and provides a detailed history of the Normans were. He also sets forth a convincing argument for how the Normans helped lead Western Europe out of the Dark Ages and into a place of prominence in the world.
The majority of the book revolves around the Hauteville family. This one family, descended from Vikings: conquered Sicily and Southern Italy; influenced events in Europe, Asia and Africa; and participated in the Norman conquest of England. You get separate chapters on each of the major family members, covering the high points of their lives in thorough detail. That leads to one of the quibbles I have with this book. When you give us a thorough telling of the life of say, Tancred of Hauteville and then follow it with a chapter covering the life of Tancred’s son William Iron-Arm there is bound to be repetition. Tancred had three sons that became legendary figures in their own right so this happens more than once in the book.
That is a minor thing though, especially when you consider that Brownworth has a very readable voice. The Normans conveys a lot of information but it always feels like it is telling you a stirring adventure – not lecturing you. Too many history books are dry and boring. This one feels very vibrant and exciting. It is an informative, excellent read and I recommend checking it out.