After the rise of Islam the term 'Saracen' came to mean any Muslim, and thus covers an enormous variety of peoples and cultures. Saladin (1137-93), to give him his Westernised name, was more successful than most at uniting many of these groups, yet enjoyed a considerable reputation for chivalry (incidentally, our guess for the Saladin figure is the one in the second row). Cavalry played a very important part in the armies of the age, and until now the only figures have been those from Italeri, which were only a half set and included camels - an animal almost never used in actual combat.
With only six poses it could never be possible to show all the various styles and types of cavalry employed in the Muslim world, but all these figures are reasonable. Most seem to wear quilted or metal armour that is either lamellar or scale, and most have helmets of fairly typical designs. They carry swords (both curved and straight) and spears, and most have shields of either the traditional round or 'Frankish' kite shape. There are none with lances or maces, which is a pity, but the horse-archer is a good idea and again he is dressed in typical costume.
The poses are the usual kind of thing you find in most pre-firearm cavalry sets, and are none the worse for it. However Caesar have made good use of their multi-part moulds by making an archer that actually shoots in the direction he is heading, which is nice to see. They have also used the technology to make every man have a ring hand (apart from the archer), so all the weapons you can see are supplied on a separate sprue, allowing them to be mixed around as desired. This not only allows more diversity, it also permits better posture than is possible with traditional two-piece moulds. The shields are also all separate, and have holes in their centre (they are quite thick) which fit on short pegs on the men's arms. The fit is OK but too shallow to make a strong join, so gluing is advisable.
The first thing to say about the horses is that they have not been well thought out. To begin with, the two poses that have no base do stand by themselves, but are not stable. Why a base was omitted we do not know, but it is a bad idea. The leaping horse with the caparison has a half base, and while he too does stand the addition of a rider makes him top heavy and he falls over. Again, why a half base? Surely bases should be provided and the customer given the option to trim them off if they wish (which we are betting most won't). Horses with no base are difficult to attach to larger wargaming bases and are obviously shorter than their co-animals when placed side by side. If the negatives are big then so are the positives. As four-legged animals, horses are always difficult for a two-piece mould, but here the legs are naturally side-by-side and so the poses are much more realistic. Having said that the pose of the second base-less animal looks very unnatural to us (even if he is meant to be in mid gallop). The animal with the caparison (housing) is perfectly valid for Muslim cavalry, although to what extent housings and indeed horse armour were used seem to be a matter of debate. Finally, these are likely to be Arabian horses, and as such they would naturally hold their tail upwards when galloping, not have them dangle as shown here.
Sculpting is as always with Caesar first class, with plenty of clear detail and no flash at all. The riders fit their mounts well, and apart from the horse pose we have already mentioned everything looks good and natural. While the shields need gluing the weapons fit the ring hands nice and tightly without undue force. However there are two points of detail that are worth noting. First, some of the men have no scabbard for their sword, and second, the horse with the caparison has it extending under his saddle, which leaves you wondering how they are keeping the saddle on.
Overall this is a very good set, but some will find the way the horses have been done annoying. As this is the first cavalry set from Caesar they are perhaps experimenting and still learning, but in our opinion at least losing the bases is an experiment that fails.