The rise of the armoured and mounted knight in Western Europe was not mirrored in the Muslim world in the 11th century, but the heavier cavalry of al Andalus, with their proximity to Christian heavy horsemen, did show some small similarities. The adoption of mail armour does seem to have come from the Christian lands, but the Muslims did not adopt the kite shield widely seen further north, and nor did they follow the trend of holding the lance couched to provide a violent impact and give the charge maximum impact. Nonetheless their primary function in a set-piece battle was very familiar - to charge and rout an enemy that had disorganised itself attacking lines of infantry and suffered losses at the hands of the archers. Although a prestige force, the Muslim heavy cavalry was not as dominant as their Christian counterparts, yet remained an important element in a land that offered many opportunities for cavalry action.
All the figures here wear some form of mail armour, although often partly covered by an outer robe. Muslim cavalry was less well armoured on average, so these look pretty good. Several have the mighfar which covered most of the body apart from the eyes, and most have a relatively simple helmet. Three have lances, but as we have said these were not couched under the arm, and the fourth pose has an axe. Round shields were the norm in Muslim cavalry, but only one man has such a shield. Two have more of a tear-shaped shield and one carries an adarga, both types being more of a fashion that appears after the death of El Cid (1099), although the name of the set may not be intended to specifically limit the set to the last years of the 11th century.
The sculpting is quite good, and if not the best impression of mail ever made it is still good enough. All the shields come as part of the figure, so there are some compromises with the left arm, but the separate lances fit the ring hands of the last two figures quite well, and there is almost no flash.
The horses are the same models used in the rest of the HaT El Cid Muslim cavalry sets, so inevitably are something of a compromise. However there is nothing on any of these animals that makes them unsuitable for heavy cavalry, so we were happy. The forms of saddle and the decoration on some straps fits well with what we know of these men. The general proportions and appearance of the horses is not great, although all of the poses are much nearer to natural horse poses than many sets manage. Also, the men fit the animals quite well.
The poses of the men too are pretty good, and although only four poses always feels like a minimum, every figure is perfectly usable and, thanks to the separate lances, does not feel particularly flat. This then is a quite serviceable set of figures with no apparent accuracy problems and some nice variety of costume, particularly in the kit on the horses.