Encased in Steel Anthology I

book cover
(Available to purchase through the Academy of Historical Arts online store.)

Farrell, Keith (ed.). Encased in Steel Anthology I. Glasgow: Fallen Rook Publishing, March 2015.

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Celebrating four years of Encased in Steel.

The writing team behind the Encased in Steel blog (Keith Farrell, Alex Bourdas and Ben Kerr, with guest author Benjamin Hawkins) have compiled some of the best articles from the last four years into the first Encased in Steel anthology. The articles have been edited heavily and updated significantly, to ensure a high quality of both scholarship and written language. Some new and unique articles have been written specifically for this volume, that are not available on the blog.

The book is divided into five thematic parts, each dealing with a different element of the study of historical European martial arts. Topics include chivalry, history and research, studies of weapons, test cutting, and practical concerns.

Suitable for anyone with an interest in European history!

Keith Farrell is one of the senior instructors for the Academy of Historical Arts, based in Scotland. He teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events, and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. He has authored Scottish Broadsword and British Singlestick and the AHA German Longsword Study Guide, and is one of the regular contributors to the Encased in Steel online blog. He has been a member of HEMAC since 2011.

Book Details:
- Volume Editor: Keith Farrell
- Article Author: Keith Farrell
- Article Author: Alex Bourdas
- Article Author: Ben Kerr
- Article Author: Benjamin Hawkins
- Publisher: Fallen Rook Publishing
- Date of Publication: 2nd March 2015
- ISBN: 978-0-9926735-6-7
- Binding: Perfect-Bound Paperback
- Pages: 209
- Height: 22.86 cm
- Width: 15.24 cm
- Language: English

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Table of Contents

Part 1: Chivalry & Christian Values
1. About Being Fearless: According to Dom Duarte (Alex Bourdas)
2. He Who Takes Up the Sword Will Perish by the Sword: Justification for Christian Violence (Ben Kerr)
3. Chivalry: According to Ramon Llull (Alex Bourdas)
4. Chivalry: According to Geoffroi de Charny (Alex Bourdas)

Part 2: HEMA History & Research
5. Research into Historical European Martial Arts (Keith Farrell)
6. Western Composers and Western Martial Arts (Keith Farrell)
7. Liechtenauer or a Derivative? (Keith Farrell)

Part 3: Weapon History & Research
8. A Perfect Length: The Single-Handed Sword (Alex Bourdas)
9. A Perfect Length: The Staff Weapons (Alex Bourdas)
10. Fustibola: The Mighty Staff Sling (Ben Kerr)

Part 4: The Practice of Cutting
11. An Argument for Test Cutting in Training (Ben Kerr)
12. Cutting with the German Longsword (Alex Bourdas)
13. Cutting Concepts (Keith Farrell)
14. Qualities of a Cutting Sword (Benjamin Hawkins)

Part 5: Practical Concerns for HEMA Clubs
15. "Aggressive" vs. "Assertive" in Martial Arts (Keith Farrell)
16. Changing Partners in Martial Training (Ben Kerr)
17. The Importance of Training Judges (Ben Kerr)
18. Validating What We Do in Martial Arts (Keith Farrell)


Review - 13th April 2016

Henry Walker wrote a review of the book on his Tumblr blog:

First bibliographical details, above and, the book is a soft cover, just over 200 pages long. It is about the size of a large novel in area (15 x 23-cm). All in all the book is quite unremarkable by its outside. This is one of those cases where the book should not be judged by the cover.

The book is filled with great articles covering many different subjects. Many of these subjects would not even be considered by some members of the HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) community to be relevant to their studies. I would suggest this is because that their focus is more on the physical aspects of what they are studying rather than an holistic examination of the arts.

The editor, states that this is a selection of articles from the "Encased in Steel" weblog, plus some extra articles which have been added in. As stated previously it covers a wide variety of subjects clearly divided into five general areas: Chivalry & Christian Values, HEMA History & Research, Weapon History & Research, The Practice of Cutting and Practical Concerns for HEMA Clubs. All of these areas are pertinent to HEMA and also the wider sword-wielding communities.

The articles themselves are very well written and easy to read. Jargon is in most cases explained so that the reader does not get confused. All of the articles are well documented and researched and each one has a bibliography supplied at the end of the article for further examination of the sources for further research. While the manner of writing is more scholarly in approach, bringing up relevant details in the appropriate manner and also forming arguments based on the evidence presented, the articles are also presented in a way which is engaging. The multiple authors are respected in their various fields in the HEMA community.

Rather than focusing on the purely martial art and physical aspects of HEMA, it also has some especially interesting articles on the ethics of swordsmanship and other social aspects which are integrally related with the wielding of a sword and indeed other weapons. Needless to say this collection of writings, while not wholly may in single appeal to a much wider community, as such this book is recommended for reading by all those interesting in swordsmanship, regardless of their interest or skill level.

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