This is the 50th publication in Helion's Century of the Soldier series and what a cracker it is too! Volume 2 of René Chartrand's 'Armies and Wars of the Sun King 1643-1715' celebrates the series' half century focusing on the infantry of Louis XIV. The book follows the usual format we've come to expect from Helion. Not a great deal is known about the French army of this period or of the campaigns it waged and having it pretty much all in one place is a definite bonus. The first six chapters give us quite a detailed run through the French involvement in the wars of the period which I found especially interesting as it includes the expedition to Sicilly in the mid-1670's, which I knew nothing about, and the influence of the Ottoman Empire on Eastern Europe in shaping French policy in the West. We then get more, with chapters covering, amongst other things, the business of war, the structure of the infantry regiment (be it native French or Foreign), recruitment, weapons, uniforms, colours and tactics. The book is lavishly illustrated, with almost 200 black and white contemporary illustrations and maps/diagrams, and there are 32 pages of colour plates. These include eight glorious pages of specially commissioned illustrations covering uniforms and colours, and a further 24 pages of other colour plates of uniforms and colours drawn or reconstructed from other sources.
This book is well written, easy to follow, wonderfully illustrated, and a fascinating and informative read. Very little is known about the French army of the 1670's but M. Chartrand has gone a long way towards filling the gaps. As you can tell, I liked it. Highly recommended, even if it means I shall be adding to my 1670's French!