Osprey’s various medieval armies Men-At-Arms books are generally solid, and this one does not disappoint. It’s not spectacular, either.

The main thrust of the text is that Scandinavia lagged behind West European fashion/technology. Denmark of course, had lots of influence from Germany, and I didn’t get any solid sense of just how tightly coupled they were or weren’t (the subject is brought up, there’s just no solid conclusion). Sweden and Norway on the other hand, were more isolated, and generally adopted parts of European equipment well after all the cool kingdoms were doing it.

Part of the trouble is pointed up in the introduction, which points out that the post-viking period has gotten a lot less archaeological attention than the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, so evidence is relatively scarce. In fact, while there’s the usual bevy of good black-and-white photographs, there’s relatively few of actual artifacts, with plenty of photos of period carvings, embroideries, etc., instead. There are a few actual pieces photographed, and they appear across five pages.

An all-too-short section mentions that knightly tournaments made their way to Norway, and apparently the rest of Scandinavia in the mid-1200s (or earlier), and proper European heraldry made its way there in the same period. I would have appreciated seeing a couple example coats-of-arms, but none are given.

The strategy and tactics section has some interest, as it describes warfare as dominated by difficult terrain and few roads, so much of campaigning devolved upon seizing good blocking positions that could be easily defended. Stone castles end up as relatively rare, but there are some examples, and the last few pages go into them.

As ever, the late, great, Angus McBride illos are well done, though they’re “typical” group shots, without any of the more ambitious pieces that have sometimes shown up. Which is a fair summary of the book, as it serves as a decent introduction without turning up anything really special.