As tragic an occurrence as it is, war is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects of history. And of course to a writer, there's nothing so, well, convenient. War brings out the worst in the world's villains and the best in its heroes--and it surprises you with who ends up falling into those roles. It is complex and emotionally charged and intricate and primal. That's why many of the greatest historical novels involve war at some level.
And of course, there's the things involved in warfare--you know, those tangible details that bring stories alive? War is brimming over with them: armor and swords and shields and boots and MREs and dog tags.
If you're ever researching a historical novel that involves a war occurring between the fifth and late nineteenth centuries, in any country, you have to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Arms and Armor Gallery. Or if you can't get to New York, at least visit them virtually.
It's an awe- fear- and plot-inspiring place.