Swords for Non-Fiction Monday

Swords: An Artist's Devotion by Ben Boos. (Candlewick, 2008, 96 pages). When he was a child, Ben Boos drew sword after sword, fascinated by their variety and detail. This lovely tribute to the weapon shows that delight. (And I'd just like to point out how apt my choice of book is, as I am typing this on the computer in the jury library of the state courthouse, where I am serving the Sword of Justice).

This book is a gallery of swords, beginning with Bronze Age Europe, progressing through the Middle Ages, and then moving east, to the swords of Japan, China, and Korea. A section entitled "War Chiefs" covers swords from diverse cultures of Oceania and Africa (this one is a bit of a hodge-podge, which I found disappointing), and the final section presents the swords of the Sultans.

This is a perfect book for the reader of any age who loves swords...my boys oohed and awed over every page. And indeed, never have I myself seen such a beautiful designed and illustrated collection of weapons! The variety and detail is remarkable, and the accompanying illustrations of places and people add great interest.

I would have liked more of the background to the weapons--how they were made, by whom, and at what cost...that sort of socio-economic thing that us anthropologically minded archaeologists love. The text which accompanies the many wordless full page pictures of swords focuses on the people wielding them, which is probably of greater interest to the target audience.

This is the sort of book that cries out to be given as a gift. It's truly a handsome thing.

The author, Ben Boos, has a forthcoming book that also looks like a great gift for the medievally- minded child--Fantasy, an Artist's Realm, is Boos' imagining of a Dungeons and Dragons type imaginary world, with the coastal fortress of the Paladins, the forests of the elves, and the various lands of darker creatures brought to beautifully illustrated life.

The Non-Fiction Monday round-up today is at In Need of Chocolate.

Disclaimer--review copy of Swords received from the publisher, along with a partial preview of Fantasy, an Artist's Realm.


  1. What a neat book. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. This book is crazy popular at my library - sometimes. It illustrates the problems with not displaying nonfiction! It sits on the shelf, sad and alone....until I put it on display. Then zap!


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