I received a review copy a couple of weeks back and have just finished reading it. I must admit, when I first picked the book up I wasn't quite sure how much I would get out of it. At a quick flick through there's no denying that it is an attractive book. However, what use would it be to a wargamer, or roleplayer? Clearly, looking at the quality of the illustrations, as with the traditional historical Osprey range, there is plenty of inspiration for a figure sculptor but I am not planning to sculpt any more steampunk figures.
Still I dove into the book and found that it is well written and offers some fascinating ideas for new armies/companies, as well as giving some interesting scenario ideas. The book is written as a guide to the worlds military forces, with the fictional "author/artist" having toured the world and recorded his impressions of the various troops he has seen, both in paint and text.
The illustrations are beautiful and full of flavour. I would have liked to see some more strange and exotic steampunk outfits and equipment, several of the illustrations could easily be confused with historical pictures, however, the aim of the book has clearly been for a subtle deviation from history, at least in most instances.
The real joy of this book though is the text, it offers valuable ideas for new steampunk gaming scenarios, and for anyone who doesn't like the existing fluff from their own steampunk rules systems this will give you a great alternative, at least supplying plenty of alternative ideas to work with.
After finishing the book I have been left with an abiding desire to explore the world some more. I hope the book is successful enough for Osprey to commission a sequel that could possibly explore larger scale military equipment, vehicles, ships, space vessels and possibly even fortifications...