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Sunday, 19 October 2014
Friday, 10 October 2014
It follows two unlikely friends, one a Roman and the other a Carthaginian, as they fight in the Second Punic War. The last book ended in the Battle of Cannae and the surviving legions are dispatched to Sicily. Inevitably our Carthaginian hero is also dispatched there by Hannibal to support their ally Syracuse. The book ends with Roman siege and of course the main characters meet up, albeit briefly.
I thought I knew quite a bit about the Punic wars, the Carthaginians were my first wargames army. I also associate the Sicily theatre more with the First Punic War. So I found the historical context interesting.
As with Ben Kane's other books, there is a close attention to historical detail without it slowing up the pace of book. It has all the elements you look for in the best historical fiction. The history, action, treachery and the personal interaction. Recommended.
Saturday, 4 October 2014
I attended the Somerled and the Battle of Renfrew conference today, held in the fine setting of Renfrew Town Hall. For those not familiar with Scottish town halls, many were built in the baronial style, and Renfrew is a particularly fine example.
My particular interest in this local battle goes back to a GDWS display game in 2011, Somerled's Last Stand.
Somerled, King of Argyll and Lord of the Isles died at the Battle of Renfrew otherwise called, Bargarran, Knock or Inchinnan in 1164. His Islesmen, Manx and Irish allies were defeated by a Norman/Scots army led by the High Steward, Walter Fitz-Alan. We actually know very little about the battle or the forces involved, so the game was somewhat conjectural.
The first session by Ted Cowan gave us some background to the period and, for me at least, confirmation that we have very few sources. Then Denis Rixson reviewed the evidence of the West Highland galleys that were an essential element of the armed forces of the isles. Birlinns were smaller versions of the classic Viking longship, more suited to the economy and warfare of the isles. He has a new book out on the subject.
The main primary source for the battle is a later poem, 'The Song of the Death of Somerled and the Sacking of Glasgow'. Dr Alex Woolf has a paper analysing the poem and what little it tells us about the battle.
In the lunch break we had an excellent original musical interlude from the Renfrewshire Youth Music Initiative. A haunting tune that beautifully captures the battle.
In the afternoon David Caldwell talked about Somerled and the Lordship of the Isles. Again, we have limited sources. It is likely that he came from Ireland in about 1130 to lead a brilliant campaign to recapture Argyll from the Norse and eventually became King of Argyll. David outlined the likely strongpoints and administrative structures.
Derek Alexander gave us an archeologists perspective with a description of what the area looked like in the 12C and an overview of the key players. The favourite site is on the Knock, Kemp Howe in Moor Park housing estate, but no real hard evidence. What we do know is that the victory enabled the Steward's to expand across the west of Scotland.
Really interesting day, pulling together what little we know about a little known battle that had important consequences for the development of Scotland.
Saturday, 20 September 2014
I decided to use GW Lord of the Rings figures again, this time Riders of Rohan seemed the closest fit for House Stark. I know some war gamers regard GW as the evil empire, and it has to be said their figures don't come cheap. However, they are well sculpted and unlike a lot of historical plastics they fit together well with properly designed lugs etc.
I decided to go with the grunge look for the Stark's as in the TV series. The Direwolf shield transfers are again from Vini Vidi Vici. I have some banners from Flags of War, which i'll use with the command figures that are the next paint job
These are the hearthguard.
and these are a unit of mounted warriors.
I am thinking of starting a new blog on the perils of wargamers with cats. I left these outside while I got my iPad for the photos and came back to find the cat on top of them. Much glue required for repairs. More Grrrr from me rather than Meow!
Saturday, 13 September 2014
Step up Robin Waterfield, author of 'Dividing the Spoils - The War for Alexander the Great's Empire'. It probably should have been called 'wars' for the empire, because there were at least four main wars and plenty of conflict in between. The period 323-281BC were filled, not just with conflict, but intrigue, diplomacy and treachery. Game of Thrones has nothing on this period!
Waterfield has narrated these conflicts well, almost in the style of a historical novel. It's one of those books you can pick up and read in short bursts, thanks to subchapter headings, without losing the flow of the story. Recommended.
A couple of units from my 28mm armies of the period
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
These are Warlord Chindits painted up as Australian infantry. The reluctant mule is a nice touch as are the native scouts.
I picked up some more Japanese off EBay, so that's just about the project finished. Of course there is always a 'but' there. A Lanchester armoured car would be nice and ......
Sunday, 31 August 2014
The feature article is a more detailed account of how the allies used the island of Vis during WW2 as a base to attack German garrisons in the Adriatic. There are many small scale actions that are ideal for wargaming with Bolt Action. I have tried a couple out on the tabletop. This one involves a joint attack on a fortified position on the island of Solta by partisans and commandos. It's one of the earlier raids before the Germans really dug in.
This is the German position.