Historical Fiction is Costing me a Fortune!

And not so much for the cost of the book. Almost all fiction and about half the non-fiction I read today I read on my Kindle, tablet or ‘phone. I’ve gotten over missing the tactile feel of a new or old book as well as the lack of smell of digital editions so more and more I am downloading my books. The problem is not the cost of the book but rather the cost of the wargame figures in dollars, time and paint that results from reading the book. Within Thomo’s Hole, for example, I have noted the following projects that came from reading:

And that is just over the last 12 months. The list goes on however.

Currently I am reading two historical novels – one on my ‘phone and this one, Divided Empire on my Kindle. I had read part of this before then got distracted but I can’t recall where I got up to so I am sure I never finished. Of course, the biggest problem is that this is set in the period of the Later Roman Empire, around 400 CE and of course I am now thinking of Late Romans, Goths and what have you. This particular temptation is not helped by the fact that I have Goths left over and laying idle in the spares box after sorting and getting things ready for the Dark Age project.

Worse, there are another few books in the series and I can see myself at the minimum putting together a small set of some 6mm late Romans and Goths. Of course, if one is doing some Romans, one really should do two armies of them so that a quick civil war becomes in order so that would be a small set of three armies. Then really, one should at least have a fourth so a Big Battle DBA becomes possible. I can see where this is leading.

In a moment of laziness, I was looking through some new releases and The Black Sheep by Peter Darman popped up. I had read most of the Parthian series until Pacorus started to annoy me so thought “here is a good one to have on the list ready for when I finish Divided House, I’ll just have a quick look at the opening pages.”

The Black Sheep is set in the time of the War of Sicilian Vespers, a war I knew about in passing but not in any detail. As is usual in these things, one thing led to another and I started reading up on the Sicilian Vespers. Now I am thinking 1282 to 1302 CE and Byzantines, Sicilians, Anjou, Aragon, France, and Naples. Toss in some Turks and we have a campaign set. Best of all, some galleys as well for the Battle of the Gulf of Naples.

This will be a challenge in 6mm (and 1/1200 for the galleys I think) but hey, life is a challenge isn’t it! One a positive note, it could be the second part of a series of sets based around Sicily.

More lead for the pile! I have to stop reading.

Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 by Gabriele Esposito – Review

The other recent addition to the bookcase at home (memo to self, when moving next year, build bigger book shelves), is Gabriele Esposito’s Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476. As with the Armies of the Hellenistic States 323 BC to AD, this covers the history, organization and equipment of the Late Roman Empire. This work was also published by Pen & Sword Military (ISBN: 9781526730374
and published on 12 December 2018) is a little longer than his Hellenistic book, running to 178 pages.

Esposito looks at the Late Roman Army over the period of its decline and fall with 476 being the watershed year that officially notes the end of the Western Roman Empire at least. This period is from the time of the accession of Diocletian in 284 C.E. to emperor through to the final defeat and then deposing Romulus Augustulus on 4 September 476 by Odoacer and his proclamation of being the ruler of Italy.

Throughout that period Rome faced many barbarian invasions, the various Goth tribes being particularly persistent. Throughout this period we invasions from the Sassanians in the east, Goths in the north followed by Visigoths, Vandals, Alans, Huns, Ostrogoths not to mention the all too frequents bouts between various Imperial contenders, seeing Romans plus allies squaring off against Romans plus allies.

Esposito discusses the Roman military machine and contends that it was an effective force until the last few years of the Western Empire. Throughout the book, the equipment and weapons of the troops are described, using various Re-eactors for the photographic illustrations as well as the reconstructed equipment. The groups used are Cohors V Baetica VexillatioCohors Prima GallicaContubernium PrimumFectienses Seniores Felices Seniores and; Septimani Seniores.

The organization and structure is also covered with charts of the high command as well a covering the different kinds of troops, such as the:

  • comitatenses (field armies)
  • limitanei (frontier units)
  • foederati (allied soldiers)
  • bucellarii (mercenaries)
  • scholae palatinae (mounted bodyguards)
  • protectores (personal guards) and so on

Apart from the photographs of various reenactors in uniform and bearing arms of the period, the book also includes the shield devices from the Notitia Dignitatum.

Apart from the Acknowledgements, Introduction and a fine Chronology, the book contains the following chapters:

  1. The Roman Army of the Principate
  2. The Transformation of the Third Century
  3. The Great Reforms of Diocletian and Constantine
  4. Clothing, Equipment and Weaponry

This is then rounded out with some Appendixes covering the Roman Army of the Notitia Dignitatum; Equipment and Weapons of the Late Roman Army; Bibliography and Index.

As with Gabriele Esposito’s other books, I really enjoy the way he has illustrated the arms, armour, dress and organization of the subject, so much so that I am looking forward to his next book, Armies of Celtic Europe 700 BC to AD 106. I highly recommend Armies of the Late Roman Empire AD 284 to 476 to any with an interest in this period.