Saturday, 11 April 2015

The Longbow by Mike Loades - reviewed by Susan Price

If you're at all interested in history, you've probably watched Mike
Mike Loades - from his website
Loades at work. He's devised historical fight scenes for films and television, he's been an expert on historical documentaries - he's even advised video-game developers on historical matters.

I've seen him working out how to build a Celtic chariot  - and then driving it.

His historical knowledge - both from research in archives - and from practical, hands-on experience - is immense.

So when I saw he'd written The Longbow, I was immediately interested, because I've owned a longbow for many years, and am just getting back into shooting it again after too long a time.

For anybody interested in the longbow - or even just in history generally - this book is a delight. Readably written, packed with information and full of references for further reading and research.

Loades often quotes from his own experience of using the bow - even of using the bow from horseback - and offers his own informed opinions on how things may have been done 800 years ago, based on his own experience of handling replica bows, or having closely observed their use.

There are fascinating asides about popinjays, the extra gait of Icelandic horses, and wych-elms.

There are many illustrations, of different types of bow and arrow-head, with thorough notes on each. Loades discusses the manufacture of bows and arrows, the 'arms-race' with the armour they had to penetrate, the sports which trained people in their use, archers' pay - he packs so much in.

It made me realise that, in fact, I knew almost nothing about a subject I thought I knew a bit about - always a salutary and exciting experience.

Thoroughly recommended.

The Longbow, by Mike Loades