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ariel 2nd August 2017 09:49 PM

New book by Kirill Rivkin and Brian Isaac
Their book " A Study of the Eastern Sword" is out.
I leafed through it at first, and for the past several days I am reading it nonstop.
This is an astonishing book, comparable in depth and knowledge IMHO only to Elgood's " Hindu arms and ritual", but on a more grander scale.

The authors confronted an impossible task: to construct a unifying picture of the origins and the evolution of the Saber. Up until now we could get just glimpses of information on Persian, Turkish, Arabic etc. sabers with some degree of similarity, but without any coherent connection.

Rivkin and Isaac went ten steps further. Theirs is a Darwinian view of the evolution of the saber, with careful descriptions of its mutations, dead ends, unexpected twists, borrowing, absorbing etc.

On top of that, it has informative and sometimes funny stories of the " Legend of Assadulla", a very idiosyncratic view of wootz, and an amusing aside : whether Albrecht Durer was a son of Martin Schongauer ( I am not revealing the punchline:-)) With a single illustration it utterly destroys the myth of Shah Abbas I inventing the karabela handle ( no punchline either:-)) In short, despite this book's heavy load of new information it reads like a novel.

On a serious note, the authors specify 2 areas of "trendsetting": the Khazar Kaganate and the Egyptian Mamluk Sultanate, that heretofore were virtually never mentioned in the professional literature, and provide a highly professional discussions of the history, the technology and the attribution of the examples coming from those areas.

The book contains almost 200 high-class photos of the sabers, most of which had never been presented to the general public. Some came from private collections ( and one of them, of Khazar and old Mongolian sabers, belonging to Ruslan Ohlablyn, is simply astonishing), while even more came from the storage rooms of world class museums: Moscow Kremlin, Hermitage, Metropolitan etc.

To say I just " recommend" this book would be an understatement of the year. Many of you ( I hope) already have Kirill's book on Caucasian weapons.
This one complements it and vastly expands its scope.

We have never seen anything like that before!

Marcus 3rd August 2017 12:34 AM

How do we buy it?

Marcus 3rd August 2017 12:36 AM

Sorry, I see it is on Amazon.

Battara 3rd August 2017 11:12 PM

Just a gentle reminder that discussion of the book is fine, but links to or discussion of pricing or commercial sites are prohibited here.

However, I would encourage someone to create a thread in the Swap Section with the commercial link.

ariel 4th August 2017 02:36 AM

There is one already.
So, here we can concentrate on "academic" issues.

Battara 4th August 2017 10:49 PM

Please do so! 😄

Rick 4th August 2017 11:53 PM

My copy arrives tomorrow. :)

ariel 5th August 2017 01:15 AM

Would love to hear what you think

rand 5th August 2017 02:06 PM

Brian Isaac
Have known Brian Isaac a very long time and consider him a friend even though we have never met. He has been doing a serious study of Islamic/Asian arms & armor for a very long time. He has had hands on experience with many incredible collections and his opinion is highly valued by all who know him. He is well versed in areas hard to research areas such as mamluk and can shed light on many dimly lit subjects. Hope this volume is the first of many and wish both him and his family all the best.


Battara 6th August 2017 02:23 AM

Based on what Rand and Ariel say, I agree with Ariel and would like to know what you think Rick. :)

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 8th August 2017 11:21 AM

Thanks Ariel This sounds like an excellent book. :shrug:

digenis 13th August 2017 03:39 PM

I just received this book and at first glance it looks absolutely superb. IMHO destined to be a classic text on eastern swords.

Rick 13th August 2017 04:27 PM

Originally Posted by Battara
Based on what Rand and Ariel say, I agree with Ariel and would like to know what you think Rick. :)

Summer = full plate.
I'm chipping away at it guys.
It will take me some time to get through it. :)

Ibrahiim al Balooshi 14th August 2017 05:28 PM

I typed into search on the web " A Study of the Eastern Sword" and this gave good guidance .

TVV 29th June 2018 05:22 PM

I finally got a copy, mostly due to my interest in the chapter on broadswords, as it shows more examples than the Furusiyya Foundation book, and to some extent because of the chapter on Mameluke swordsmiths and swords. I ended up reading the entire book, and can confirm what Ariel wrote - it is a very pleasant read, not dry at all, while at the same time up to very high academic standards of research and writing.

The book encompasses such a huge topic, that it can be useful to almost anyone here on the forum regardless of specific area interest (OK, if you are collecting Polynesian clubs or sub-Saharan spears, maybe not quite). The authors also tackle some controversial and somewhat mystery topics ranging from the saber of Charlemagne to the Virgin Mary swords, and reach some well founded and explained conclusions, dispelling myths created by previous authors.

That being said, the book is not trying to be contrarian and revolutionary. The authors have simply done an excellent job of separating fact from fiction. One of their major contributions going forward may be the periods they have adopted in the evolution of the saber as a form.

I liked the book so much that I also ordered a copy of Kirill Rivkin's Caucasus book, even though I am no longer collecting weapons from that area. I really like him as an author and I hope we will see more books from him in the future.

Jens Nordlunde 29th June 2018 08:39 PM

It is a fantastic book - if you have the faintest intrest in the subject - buy it, as you are not likely to find another one like it for years to come.

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