It's not my period (I focused on the Albigensian Crusade at university), but my favourite Osprey book has to be Men-at-Arms 279: The Border Reivers written by Keith Durham and illustrated by the late Angus McBride. It was this book that first ignited my interest in the (mis)adventures of the Borders, with its tales of blackmail (a term that originated amongst these desperadoes and ne'er do wells), hot trods, arson, jailbreaks and grand theft livestock. From this work, I discovered what, to this day, is one of my most-loved history books, if not one of my favourite books, period: George Macdonald Fraser's The Steel Bonnets: The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers. Now, I read this title at least once a year as it's the perfect balance of wit, storytelling and erudite history - immensely interesting and enjoyable at the same time. However, as Oscar Wilde said, "nothing succeeds like excess", and The Reavers, the prequel (stylistically, if not content-wise) to GMF's previous comic work, The Pyrates, is no exception to that rule. Here, GMF gives his comic talents free rein, depicting a Border country full of Walsingham's spies, Glaswegian highwaymen, swooning beauties, dastardly Dagoes and reivers who you feel would be more at home on the terraces with a meat pie and a pitch invasion than on horseback with jack and lance! It's pure farce, but meticulously-researched, emphatically-written farce. Even if you have never been interested in the period or the setting before, I urge you to read it. In fact, you should probably read it ESPECIALLY if you have never been interested in the period or the setting before - it's inspiring and hilarious - what more could anyone want?
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