John Burroughs’ Bookshelf
Synopsis: Featuring full-color pages accessible to readers of any age, “Coats of Arms: An Introduction to The Science and Art of Heraldry” (written and illustrated by Marc Fountain) is a how and why quick-start guide that explains knighthood and nobility and royalty, what coats of arms mean, how to create your own, and how to assemble those of your ancestors.
Heraldry is the art and profession of creating designs within shield-shaped outlines meant to identify important individuals and their descendants, as well as organizations (towns, schools, corporations) and nations. These designs often come surrounded by additional symbols such as helms, crowns or crests. Although few of us bear actual shields in the modern world, many today print their ancestors’ armorial symbols onto paper, engrave them into jewelry or tableware, and carve them into wood and stone.
Readers will learn about: Symbols of Identity (where Heraldry came from, and how it can still empower people today); Within the Shield (the symbols which identify a person or family or organization); Beyond the Shield (the symbols which identify social rank (gentry, knight, noble, royal); Ancestry (where last names came from, and where you come into the story).
Critique: An inherently fascinating and exceptionally informative study that is impressively organized and presented, “Coats of Arms: An Introduction to The Science and Art of Heraldry” is especially recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Medieval History & Heraldry collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists. It should be noted that “Coats of Arms: An Introduction to The Science and Art of Heraldry” is also available in a paperback edition (9781615996957, $21.95) and in a digital book format (Kindle, $6.95).
Editorial Note: Marc Fountain has been a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (scbwi.org) since 2016, and a member of the organization for crime writers SistersInCrime.org since 2015, during which time he served for two years as co-President of SinC’s North Carolina Triad chapter. He wrote this introductory book about heraldry because, not quite half a century ago at age 11, He found a book in my grandfather’s library about coats of arms. He was enchanted, but trying to learn from its dense text and colorless line art felt like trying to swim through peanut butter. That book had been written for scholarly researchers. But with the publication of “Coats of Arms: An Introduction to The Science and Art of Heraldry” the different parts of this book will prove useful to readers at different ages. Those interested can learn more at https://coatsofarms.actionablehope.com.
John Burroughs, Reviewer
Coats of Arms: An Introduction to The Science and Art of Heraldry
Modern History Press
5145 Pontiac Trail, Ann Arbor, MI 48105
9781615996964, $34.95, HC, 42pp