The Knights of Islam

I read one of James’ previous books on the Ismaili and found it very very insightful on a subject I literally had no concept of outside fo Assassin’s Creed, so when I was asked to take a look at this one, I jumped at it. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Reading lots of European centric and Far Eastern books on Medieval culture and martial arts leaves this huge gap literally in the middle. Partly, this is because this information is hard to acquire outside of academic institutions with deep pockets. It is hard for the freelancer or amateur to afford this stuff. So in this way the book is a much welcome addition.

Secondly, the mamluks don’t seem to get as much coverage as other groups during the same period. Yet…

Their story embraces many of the great themes of medieval military endeavour: the Crusaders and the deadly contest between Islam and Christendom, the Mongols and their vision of World Dominion, Tamerlane the Scourge of God and the rise of the Ottoman Empire whose own slave soldiers, the Janissaries, would be the Mamluks’ final nemesis.

They developed a martial code and an honour system based on barracks brotherhood, a sophisticated military society that harnessed the state’s energies for total war and produced a series of treatises on cavalry tactics, martial training, mounted archery and scientific and analytical approaches to warfare that more than compare to Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the western medieval codes of chivalry and Japanese bushido in their complexity, beauty of language and comprehensive coverage of the bloody business of war.

The book provides lots of snippets from other sources too. I found a British Library page on one Mamluk treaty of Horsemanship which covers both military tqctics and weapon use, as well as trick riding for events and shows.

This does require much more investigation for sure, as like their Western and Eastern contemporaries, they are skilled in the same set of weaponry but seemingly used them differently.

If you are a student of military history, and combat systems, you need to be reading this book.

You can buy the book here from Pen and Sword books.

Please note I was not paid to write this review but was sent a review copy of the book. All comments are my own, and the publishers have not amended the review in any way.