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Sassanian Elite Cavalry AD 224-642

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2005

    This book could be much better

    This is a useful book in that it adds quite a bit to what¿s available for information on the Sassanids, but it has some notable drawbacks. The first is that the author assumes the reader has a good knowledge of the history of Sassanid Iran and its various rulers and wars. There are also no maps, and only the most rudimentary of battle diagrams. The second problem is a certain vagueness as to who the author is actually discussing, the so-called Savaran. It¿s not clear whether he is talking about just the elite `guard corps¿ of or Sassanid cavalry in general, and this becomes rather confusing. There is virtually no discussion of the social categories they came from, their home life or economic background, organization, degree of professionalism, the workings of the Empire, and so on. The author also appears to take some liberties with historical continuities, ethnology, and linguistics, as well as mentioning female warriors and other things with little supporting evidence, and accepting some rather farfetched heroic imagery as fact. The other problem is a fairly obvious dose of Iranian nationalism in the author¿s approach, a thing which gets in the way of the nuts and bolts of history and tactics¿for one thing, the author focuses almost entirely on Sassanid victories over the Romans, particularly Shapur II¿s defeat of three Roman emperors. Sassanid defeats and shortcomings are mostly omitted¿there is no mention of the victories of the Illyrian emperors, Heraclius at Nineveh, and only a gloss on Muslim invasion. While the book does use a number of narrative sources largely unexplored by Western writers, such as the Khuzistan Chronicle and Al-Turabi¿s histories, the author otherwise relies mostly on the same collection of statues, reliefs, and museum artifacts that David Nicolle and other Osprey contributors have been mining for years. The book also includes several `thumbnail sketches¿ detailing clashes between Roman armies under Julian the Apostate, Belisarius, and so on with their Sassanid opposite numbers. These are interesting, but somewhat one-sided and lacking in detail. I must also admit that the artwork is not up to Mr. McBride¿s usual standard of excellence, including a number of errata and generally poor composition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2005

    Nice, but not what I expected.

    The information is pretty good. Actually adds to what we knew from men-at-arms 175. At times it feels as if the author has taken some liberties with the history, most prominantly regarding the names (calling the Jan-Ouspar troopers 'Peshemergas' a very modern Kurdish word, as an example). But over all it is an OK text. The illustrations are not up to the task at all. Angus McBride is a superb illustrator. I do not know what was going on while he was working on this book. Definitely not up to his very high standard. I wish Osprey would do a better job in representing one of the most enigmatic and least understood empires of the late antiquity.

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