Osprey’s Fortress series is quite interesting, as it tackles all sorts of subjects I had not thought about (nor seen anything else on), as well as more familiar ground. For example, I’m used to seeing quite a bit about western European castles (which probably are siege engineering at its most interesting), and I know how much of that was borrowed from what was in already developed in the Near East, but, there’s almost nothing outside of that.

This volume is a very good, and dense, introduction to the fortifications of the Medieval ‘Rus, and shows off a number of features not seen in the more familiar west. Most fortifications were simply earthen ramparts with wooden walls on top (stone fortifications generally came much later than elsewhwere). The Kievan state built ‘snake ramparts’ that ran for over 500 miles to protect the southern borders. The common forms of all of these and these are explained in some detail, with common features and styles gone into.

In all, the book suffers most from having to be crammed into the standard Osprey page count, but still manages to give a pretty good look at most everything, and as usual, illustrations and photographs go a long way towards making everything clear.