“In the early 14th century, a new weapon entered the arsenals of European armies. This first generation of black powder weapons put fear into the heart of the enemy and in 1453 Ottoman cannon succeeded in pummelling the once-impregnable walls of Constantinople. But cannon, which are both slow and cumbersome, were difficult to use and often proved inaccurate. The first handgonnes were the answer. Easily dismissed by later historians as nothing more than crude tubes that shot wildly inaccurate lead balls, more recent research has revealed the true accuracy of the medieval handgonne together with its penetrative power. This volume, complete with detailed illustrations and colour photographs of reconstructed handgonnes, reveals the true history of what could easily have been the most revolutionary weapon in history. This book will be a must for medieval enthusiasts and re-enactors.”

Well it’s an Osprey, from their new “Weapons” series so I know what I am going to get – a concise and easy to follow précis, well illustrated (with modern additions by the ubiquitous Gerry Embleton). It is a little below my accrued knowledge of the subject, so I felt unsatisfied. The author isn’t a specialist in this field, being a generic “history writer”. That’s not such a bad thing as it can make approach clearer – for the newcomer I would strongly recommend it, and at £9 new it’s a steal compared to other books of this type.