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Review: "The Talhoffer Society" by Mike Edelson

PostPosted: 01 Mar 2016 21:16
by KeithFarrell

"The Talhoffer Society" by Michael Edelson is truly one of the best works of fiction that I have read in the last few years.

Over the last two years in particular, I have been trying to get back into the habit of reading some fiction on a daily (or almost daily) basis, and usually a book of this length will take me a week or so to get through in short session each evening. However, I picked up this book at around 10pm, and finished reading it at around 3am - I simply couldn't tear myself away from it until it was finished!

The pacing is just right, the characters are interesting, but most importantly, the writing is very compelling. The depiction of fighting scenes, arguably one of the most important aspects of this book for HEMA enthusiasts, is handled exceptionally well - I don't think I have come across such well-written scenes in a long time. There is plenty of detail for those "in the know", who can look for particular techniques, concepts, or matters of interpretation of the historical texts; yet the scenes are described in simple enough language for anyone without knowledge of historical fencing to follow and enjoy.

Not only are the nuts and bolts firmly in place, but the book can be read on several levels. At the basic level, of course, the story is great. Someone with a more literary interest could analyse the piece and would find plenty of material with which to work. And if you are involved with the study and practice of historical martial arts, you may find some of the ideas and concepts quite though-provoking with regard to your own practice, performance and interpretation of your chosen art.

This book is one of the best ambassadors for the study of historical fencing that is currently available in the medium of a work of fiction. I would encourage anyone involved with the medieval or renaissance fencing arts to buy a copy, to support Mike's work, and then to recommend it to others if you enjoy it anywhere near as much as I have.

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