Oliver - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

An Introduction to Heraldry
Stephan Oliver
Chartwell Books
Nonfiction, History
****

DESCRIPTION: Heraldry is an ancient art, most commonly associated with visions of knights and kings. Once used to identify nobles, knights, and organizations of high note, it was not so haphazard a thing as many may think. Traditions and rules, varying by nation, governed who could or should display what marks in what manner, and what each image symbolized. This book takes the beginner through the various rules, parts, and terms of heraldry, with many pictures.

REVIEW: This is another one from the discount shelves of Barnes & Noble. For the price, it's a very good book for the layperson on the subject of heraldry. Easy to read (even if the editing cuts off more than one sentence mid-line), with very helpful illustrations, this is a great book for anyone interested in coats of arms, be it for the historical aspects or - like me - the fantasy associations.

You might also enjoy:
Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight (David Edge & John Miles Paddock, Nonfiction - The history of armor and armed warriors)
Knights (Andrea Hopkins, Nonfiction - The truth behind the legends and myths about medieval knights)
Terry Jones' Medieval Lives (Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, Nonfiction - The authors separate medieval fact from fiction)
Arms and Armor in the Art Institute of Chicago (Walter J. Karcheski, Jr., Nonfiction - A museum's collection of medieval armor)
The Song of the Lioness quartet and The Protector of the Small quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Girls training to be knights in a magical kingdom; their training draws on real-world knighthood skills)

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Paint Your Own Illuminated Letters
Stephan Oliver
Chartwell Books
Nonfiction, Art
***+

DESCRIPTION: Before the days of moveable type and printing presses, the creation of a book was almost an art form. Brilliantly colored hand-rendered images twined about the edges and letters of each page. Though most of these illuminators worked in anonymity, their beautiful works survive to this day. This book examines the history and art of illuminated letters, with several projects for the would-be illuminator today.

REVIEW: The things one buys at half price... Anyway, this seemed to fit with my Heraldry books for some reason, so I bought it. I may be being a bit charitable in my rating, but there's enough information given here in an easy-to-understand context to push it one-half mark over the line from Okay. The projects don't look to be as beginner-friendly as Oliver seems to think (lacking time, space, and materials, I haven't actually attempted them), but otherwise it's an interesting read.

You might also enjoy:
Just My Type (Simon Garfield, Nonfiction - The history, controversies, and ongoing art of font design)
ABC of Lettering (Carl Holmes, Art - How to use fonts and lettering effectively in art and design)
E-mergency! (Tom Lichtenheld, YA Picture Book - When the letter E injures herself, someone else must fill in)
The Art of Lettering with Pen and Brush (Larry Ottino, Art - An introduction to lettering, with many exercises and fonts to copy)

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