Sunday, May 15, 2016
Sunday, January 03, 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is one weighty tome. Originally published in 1934, this book is a hefty 700 page encyclopedia of weaponry and armor with a few other related topics, such as falconry. It focuses largely on Japan and Europe, but has a fair amount of information on the rest of the world. I read it cover to cover over a long period of time, but it is probably more sane to use it as a reference book.
Of course it is a product of its time, and as such has some understandable shortcomings. The illustrations, for instance, would not pass muster in any more recent work. The descriptive text more than makes up for this, however.
My only other minor quibble is that the book can get a bit too bogged down in minutiae, especially with regard to the many Japanese entries. Though to be sure, I would much rather have this high level of detail than the author erring on the side of brevity.
I purchased this book mainly for use in fleshing out my RPG library, but I should imagine that it would also be very appealing to actual military historians.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Monday, August 03, 2015
Sunday, August 02, 2015
Saturday, October 11, 2014
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This will not be a review of the book per se, for the simple reason that I am not qualified to do so adequately. I have studied a little classical philosophy at university, but that was years back. I am interested in philosophy, but hardly have the level of expertise needed to do an adequate review. So instead I will limit myself to what I liked, and what I disliked.
There are two main areas of philosophy that intrigue me at the moment: pre-Socratic Greek philosophy and medieval Scholasticism. Both do not seem to be dealt with in any depth of understanding that I would expect from professors of philosophy at a major university. For instance, when discussing Thales we are helpfully told that Thales did not really think that the world was literally made out of water. Well, no shit. Fortunately, the section on Scholasticism is a little more satisfying in its treatment of figures like Abelard and Duns Scotus.
Throughout the book makes forays into non-Western philosophy to provide a balance and make it more of a worldwide overview. On the one hand, this is useful. On the other hand, these sections are necessarily overly perfunctory, especially the sections on Indian philosophy. The latter has such a rich philosophical history and really needs a book length overview of its own. I would much rather that the authors had stuck to western philosophy. As it is, the book has a self-consciously "look how multicultural I am!" feel to it, especially in the later sections, which was more irritating than informative.
On the other hand, the book did hit all the major figures of western philosophy from Plato to Wittgenstein, so is valuable to anyone needing an overview, such as myself. As such, although I only gave it two stars (as "It was OK"), I would still recommend it.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Monsters! Monsters! is Tunnels and Trolls creator Ken St. Andre's old school role playing game that is designed for "...providing equal time for the monsters". It's essentially a Tunnels and Trolls variant, and as such very old school, very basic, very much light-hearted fun. This ain't one of them modern sophistimicated RPGs. Heck, they aren't even any multi-sided dice used: plain old six siders are good enough for this game.
In this game, you play a monstrous beings and get awarded points for doing evil monstrous acts, such as pillaging villages and killing sissy hero types. You can either choose the type of monster to play, or, as is recommended, randomly determine this through drawing a playing card from a deck. If you are lucky, you'll draw a dragon. Not so lucky, and you'll get a goblin or snollygoster. Them's the breaks.
I won't go into the game mechanics, but suffice it to say that they are very simple indeed. This can be a bit frustrating, but it is also part of the charm of the game. One especially charming section is the spells: "Oh-there-it-is" (detects hidden objects), "Glue-you" (impedes motion), "Slush-yuch" (converts rock to mud) and other fun little cantrips.
I doubt that I will ever run a Monsters! Monsters! session (though it may be fun) - I got this because of my interest in the history of RPGs. And they sure don't make 'em like this anymore. Probably a good thing.
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