Muscular figures in intrepid poses stock this tribute to “stealth warriors” through the ages.
Readers whose awareness of sneaky scouts and assassins begins and ends with ninjas are in for a surprise, as Chambers picks nine other groups of fearsome fighters to join them, including the “Bold Batavi” auxiliaries who fought for ancient Rome, the central African Azande, the “Gritty Gurkhas” of Nepal, and “Hawaii’s Horror Koa.” In his painted reconstructions, Juta portrays burly heroes lurking in bushes to spy or, wielding characteristic weaponry, charging down on dismayed-looking victims. The thrills are strictly superficial, though, as the pictures are not only sans visible blood, but impersonal in composition, with the warriors usually turned away from viewers. Along with general remarks about the history and fearsomeness of each warrior type, the author supplies such facile “facts” (“factoids” would be more accurate) as “Batavi gouged and slashed their enemies’ faces,” and “Maroons used the secret powers of the Obeah spirits to scare the enemy.” In contrast to the all-male lineup here, three of the 10 historical war leaders profiled in the co-published Fierce Fighters are women. Reflecting the Warriors series’ international outlook, in the latter, only two, Alexander the Great and Vlad the Impaler, were Europeans. Pages of further “facts” and specific battles cap both volumes.
The tiny text type may keep readers lacking confidence away; otherwise, cheap thrills aplenty for casual browsers. (map, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)