Disclosure: The reviewer received a review copy of this book via NetgalleyElf Warfare by Chris Pramas
Series: Osprey Adventures #3
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Type: Gaming Reference
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I’ve always liked Osprey Publishing’s military history books. They consistently catch my attention at hobby shops due to the wonderfully illustrated covers and adventurous topics. This goes double for Elf Warfare, which gives the Osprey treatment to fantasy fiction.
Elf Warfare is the third installment of the Osprey Adventures series, which also includes Orc Warfare and Dwarf Warfare. The books present an overview of the cultures, societies, and militaries of these fantasy races. Though presented as a nonfiction volume, Elf Warfare is a work of original fiction, not just a roll-up or comparison of elves from other stories. It is essentially a gaming manual to provide reference or ideas for gaming campaigns or fantasy writers.
The book begins with a short history of the elves and their main divisions. These include Green Elves, Sea Elves, Gold Elves, High Elves, Moon Elves, and Dark Elves. It continues with description of troop types, those common to all elf armies and those unique to each elf kind. Next, the volume presents the strategies and tactics employed by elf armies and navies. Finally, we get to see some vignettes of fictional elf battles where the different troops and tactics are employed.
Elf Warfare is an expository manual, not a narrative novel. However, it still fired my imagination and immersed me into its world. The descriptions provide plenty of detail without getting dry. As with most Osprey books, it has beautiful full-color and grayscale illustrations throughout the volume that complement the text and inspire the reader.
What Makes it Epic Grit:
- Adventure and Wonder: This immerses the reader into a fantasy world with sophisticated elf societies.
- Believable Characters: As a gaming manual, the book does not focus upon characters. Instead, it invites readers to imagine and create their own characters.
- Real Consequences: The histories, tactics, and military hardware are full of consequences, both implicit and explicit.
- Epic in Scope: There are allusions to the rise and fall of great empires and societies.
- Subverts “Good versus Evil” Tropes: There is enough complexity to the elves that the reader can imagine stories where gray areas abound.
- Different Perspectives: Again, the book does not focus upon characters. It does present some of the differing motivations for the various elf societies. The reader must be careful not to apply these motivations as stereotypes for all members of a society.
This is a wonderful overview of a fantasy race and its possible ways of warfare.