With a genuine, newfound interest in the Samurai, I was very eager to see what Osprey had to offer in this publication. It left me though, with mixed feelings.
The book is a brilliant summary of Japanese history up to the return of the Shogun in the 17th Century, from which, as a newcomer, I gained an insightful introduction as well as a motivation to follow it up with further reading. I found myself however, frustrated at the lack of focus on the actual Samurai warriors. Whilst giving an account of the battles, political intrigues and family feuds that shaped Japan, the Samurai presence is mentioned, but not really elaborated upon.
Additionally, the section on weapons and armour – although featured heavily in photographs and illustrations throughout, appears towards the end of the book, which feels a bit like an afterthought.
On the plus side, the photographs all have very good detail, very helpful I expect for figure modelers. There is also a glossary, fairly extensive, of the various parts of armour and weapons. On the down side, the photographs are all black and white, so colour reference is only available in the illustrations, which albeit being very thorough, are only artists’ reproductions. Some of the photographs do have the colours listed in their description, and it is down to the reader to identify which part of the armour they refer to and visualize it.
Overall, the book is a useful source of information for both modeling and historical interests, but from either way you approach it, it may leave you needing more. I expected a book on the Samurai and didn’t get the information I anticipated. And from a modeling point of view, I feel the book would have benefited more from colour photographs.
Perhaps this is part of a series and would go better with one or two other editions, which combined would cover the whole subject more extensively.
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Thank you to Osprey Publishing for kindly supplying the review sample.