Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Shadows in the Desert

I'm glad I bought Dr Kaveh Farrokh's book on Anciewnt Persia at War, but I'm even more glad that I got it cheap at a flea market. I had been hoping for something with in-depth treatment of the latest research in organization, tactics, arms etc but the book contains very little on any of these topics. It does however contain interesting speculation on the impact of Iranian culture and language on the world (I had no idea there was a Persian colony in Italy in the 5th C) as well as recounting every Persian king in a 1,000 years (and usually which member of their familiy killed them) and  a brief mention of virtually every campaign with some information on battles where available.

Unfortunately for my purposes, while the author takes a stab at weapons in a vague way though he seems to lack real understanding of arms and armour and seems to have little sense of the importance of discipline, command structure, generalship, formations, tactics and so forth. For example the Greek vs Persian clash is seen purely in terms of armour and defeats of Sassanian cavalry at the hands of  the Hephthalites appears to be attributed in large part to the latter's method of suspending their sword sheathes by two straps instead of one, and so forth.

Useful background reading but no real use on the tabletop.


  1. Hmm ... disappointing, Ross, as this book has been sat on my shelf waiting to be inspiration when I eventually get around to painting Persians. At least it has some interesting pictures, not least the large number reproduced from the 1970s guide to the 2500 year celebrations in Iran – which inspired a number of the Hinchliffe Persians, and looking at the light cavalrymen, perhaps even one of the Garrison figures ?
    Best wishes, Nick Elsden

  2. Nick, There's still inspiration to be had from the book over and above those 2500 celebration pics (you'll note I got back to painting ancients while reading it.) I was thinking about your Indians, the book may not go deep but it has more on central Asian and Indian campaigns than I've seen before. The recounting of dynastic goings on and campaigns on exotic kingdoms back beyond pit me in mind of Tony Bath and Hyboria.

  3. The 2500 celebration pictures are a good reason in themselves. I even contacted the Iranian embassy at the time to try and get a copy of the the commemorative book that went with it - no luck. Only pictures of the parade I've seen were the ones that appeared in Slingshot.