CHARLES XII’s KAROLINERS Volume 1 by Sergey Shamenkov Helion CotS Range


Let me begin by saying that wargamers and figure painters should have no complaints about this book. It is the most lavishly illustrated guide to the Swedish Army of the GNW period yet produced. My immediate response to a quick flick from front to back was extremely positive. The type face is larger than usual for recent Helion offers which makes the pages look less intimidating. The author is also the illustrator and has done a marvellous job. The poses are credible, the subjects do not all have the same face (a common problem with military illustrations) and the combinations of clothing and equipment indicate an artist who knows the subject intimately and, has probably worn many of the clothes he has drawn. He is of course, a re-enactor.

The book focuses on infantry and artillery leaving the cavalry and dragoons for a second volume. Consequently, there is plenty of room to blow away many of the myths around Swedish dress and focus on the evolution of the classic Swedish infantry image of blue faced yellow, turned back skirts and tight tricorne and place it in context. The choice of colour photography was wise as b/w photos of old objects always let a publication down because the reasons are primarily cost driven.

Although I have not read the book from cover to cover yet, the sections overviewed offer punchy, easy to read text which gets to the point. Often these days, historical works are heavily over-referenced making them almost unreadable. The author has cited sources appropriately, but the layout is easily navigable, and he seems disinclined to constantly present his bona fides lest he be challenge by some academic keyboard warrior determined to spring an ambush. Of course, it is important to ensure accuracy in historical reference works, but this book is not aimed at Ph D researchers. He has his target audience at the centre of the crosshairs.

One of the most interesting aspects is the photos of clothing material. When painting wargaming figures, it is easy to forget that smooth blues, yellows, blacks and whites represent textured natural materials such as coarse wool and felt. There is a real sense of what these objects are in the illustrations of the book both photographic and in the drawings and paintings.

I would thoroughly recommend the book to anyone wanting to model the Swedish Army on the tabletop.