Books, Movies, Music

Salve Sodales!

What books, music, and movies remind you most strongly of Ars Magica?
For movies I have:
In the name of the Rose (medieval murder mystery)
Legend (great Fairy vs. Infernal story)
Ladyhawke (the story of a Knight and his lady who suffer under an Infernal curse)
Dragonslayer (the best Ars Magica movie made)
And last, but certainly not least:

For music I have:
Ann Sannat
Dragonslayer OST
Legend OST

What books, movies, and music would you share?

It's rather anachronistic, but I find Steeleye Span and/or Fairport Convention get me into an Ars Magica mood.

Also, Kate Rusby!

Agree with the movies, have a list at home somewhere...
Music wise, I like a band called 'Tinkerscuss', they did a lovely album of fairy story based songs about the time RoP:F came out, which included a lovely creepy one about a scarecrow IIRC. The album Nine Trees is also very good.
Medieval Babes,

Books wise, I like the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett,
Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey (recommend the last herald mage set for a first read),
The magic goes away by Larry Niven is a great take on fantasy by a sf author.
I get character ideas from all of these, and cant help but think that Valdemar would make an interesting companions only saga.


This might be helpful :slight_smile:

Hmmm, they forgot to mention Wizards and Warriors, a tv show from the early 80's. While the special effects are campy by todays standards, it is the definitive Ars Magica TV show, with many plots you can use in your game.
Watch the first episode (The Unicorn of Death) for free on Youtube:

Neither this thread nor the other one mentioned a lot of books, and for me they're an invaluable resource for how the people of the time sounded, and what they thought about.
The Cadfael chronicles, by Ellis Peters. 13 or 14 mysteries with the main character being a Welsh former-crusader monk in (IIRC) the 1130s.
The White Company, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Yes, he wrote more than the Sherlock Holmes stories.) Novel about a mercenary company during the Hundred Years' War, around 1366-1367. The prequel, Sir Nigel is not quite as good.
(For very gritty mercenary fiction in a magical world, check out The Black Company by Glen Cook. I have not had very much success visualizing much from there in Ars Magica terms, but YMMV.)
The Black Arrow by R.L. Stevenson. That one's almost too far out of period, being set during the Wars of the Roses.
The Grail Quest series by Bernard Cornwell, about a British archer involved in the Quest for the Holy Grail, also during the Hundred Years' War.
Ivanhoe, by Sir Walther Scott. If you haven't read this classic, go and do so now. :slight_smile: Saxon knight returning from the Crusades in 1194. This is the book that gave us our modern image of Robin Hood as a devil-may-care outlaw.

On the historical fantasy side....
The Grail and the Ring series by Theresa Edgerton is excellent. I've based more Ars Magica characters and stories on that series than I can count. Heck, our longest-running and most-beloved covenant, Caer Arianrhod, was straight out named after one of the books in the series, "Castle of the Silver Wheel".
Deryni novels by Katherine Kurtz should be required reading for any serious Jerbiton. :slight_smile:

+1 for the Brother Cadfael series, by Ellis Peters. It's amazing. My 4th ed saga was set against the backdrop of the brewing war between King Stephen and Empress Maude. One of the few games I've ever managed to have go from beginning to a definitive climax.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg. They aren't particularly evocative of Mythic Europe specifically, but they are wonderful sources of mystery and inspiration. Each page is supposedly an image of a story: It contains a picture, the title of the story, and a snippet supposedly from the larger 'story.' There is no main story, but instead the twelve disconnected seeds. In my saga, I and my ex each picked out a picture and crafted a story around them.

thematic music

  • Shinjuku Thief - The Witch Hammer
  • some tracks from the WoW music across the 4 albums that have been created.


  • Brotherhood of the Wolf

Hah.... for music I have used a lot of Mortiis, Vond of course, King Raven - Vols. 1 - 3 by Jeff Johnson & Brian Dunning, are okay.

Movies TV... Dresden files, Vahalla Rising, Agora, The Crusaders, Black Death...
The Advocate. I cannot say enough how amazing this movie is to grok the times and mentality of a completely fictional look at the era. It is silly and fun but is a complete companion adventure. You could take the movie and put it right into any game set in Normandy, Rhine, or even some surrounding Tribunals.
...Season of the Witch, Taras Bulba (not good but good :laughing: ), Sword of War, Flesh + Blood, Anchoress, Beowulf and Grendel, Hagbard and Signe, Tristan & Isolde, Ivanhoe series as well as the Pillars of the Earth series.

I leave Ironclad as last... Paul Giamatti as King John dealing with the Magna Carta, is something everyone needs to see!!!! :laughing:

Now for books, non-fiction:
Anything by John Julius Norwich... a friend clicked me onto this guy and I have been collecting his books ever since.
Women in Purple: Rulers of Medieval Byzantium by Judith Herrin.... I've enjoyed her writing on Byzantium
The Alexiad Anna Komnene I haven't gotten around to reading but I have had about ten conversations about it... got to be great
Thomas Costain writes good stuff, as well as Frances Gies

Fiction my books list is far too long,
Bernard Cornwell is way to obvious, the Northmen stuff is brilliant
Glen Cook and Steven Erikson write truly great Ars Magica inspiring stuff. Granted it is more D&D than Ars, but Erikson's ideas are endless!
Guy Gavriel Kay is without equal when writing the genre I can never remember what it is called.... historical fantasy fiction? alternate fantasy historical fiction? I can never get the term right even though I've been told about a dozen times READ HIS STUFF! it is very nice
Karen Maitland has written about half a dozen books that have the most unique perspective and style, good times.
Joe Ambercrombie... again closer to D&D than strict Ars, however such a thoughtful and consistent writer. Best Served Cold is perfect.
Stephen Lawhead"s Robin Hood series is the best take on Robin Hood I have ever read, though I admit I have always hated reading Robin Hood, :imp:
Name of the Rose and The Island of the Day Before are great by Umberto Eco... Baudolino is just.... reading it leaves me speechless

I want to give him space from the rest on the list... Terry Pratchett. He groks this world, our present and our past with such complete understanding that I truly think using grok is the only appropriate way of stating it. I love Pratchett and any single book can be used as a seed for an amazing Ars adventure.

Sergey Lukyanenko and is Watch series is full of how magic and the supernatural world might be... excellence every read.
Scott Rezer wrote the Leper King... I still look at it and cant decide how I feel

Just to bring this to a short end, because none of the lists above are completed with my recommendations, but only the ones I could think off the top of my head. I would like to end with a final fictional author which has absolutely changed how I enjoy books.
K.J. Parker writes so very good books. Read them, I would like to see how others feel. I thought her Fencer trilogy was the best fiction I had read in a decade, then I read The Engineer Trilogy when it came out. While they both seem to have very mirroring themes.... I reread these books every year. They are essentially perfect in every regard. A character which anyone would overlook and yet commands 1300 pages... brilliant. And the entire purpose of the series is the exact reason I make every story in any medium.

Well there is it, a short list...

For music, I think Id Software's classic games era do an excellent job of providing mood music. The best, IMHO, are from Doom/Doom2, and the Hexen series. The less metallic, more fantasy-themed ones would be great for an adventure. In particular, they're great for exploring unknown areas.
With permisison, I'll provide some youtube links: (I like this one best) ... re=related ... re=related

Keep the volume low as some tracks are naturally louder than others.

Eifelheim, for the academic priest thought patterns.

I second Guy Gavriel Kay.


A third from me, so it carries. Also, John Julius Norwich, as mentioned above.

I tend to read a lot of pure history books as well as mythological authors - say, RJ Stewart, John & Caitlin Matthews, Robert Graves, Evans-Wentz, Lady Charlotte Guests's Mabinogion, for Celtic material.
Snorri Sturluson's Eddas; Egil's Saga; Laexdala Saga, etc. Seamus Heany's translation of Beowulf is also excellent. Viktor Rydberg has a lot of interesting scholarship regarding Germanism, but his work has become politicised. Caveat Emptor.
James Frazer's "Golden Bough" and Joseph Campbell (various, esp. "The Masks of God" and "The hero with a Thousand Faces") are indispensable for the serious mythologist.
Several classical authors are very readable, but I don't have any of those at hand. Lucretius' "On the Nature of Things" springs to mind.

Let's see, for music...

Omnia (awesome celtic-goth world music/folk band. Very much don't fit in a box!)
Dead Can Dance (persian/latin/levant-flavoured world music)
various Gothic, such as: Fields of the Nephilim, Moonspell, Faith & the Muse, etc.
Dan Ar Bras, Fairport Convention, Pentangle and the odd other folk/trad band
Judith Pintar (classical harp music)
Fejd, Tyr and other scandinavian prog/folk metal
Philip Glass (several OST, classical electronic music)
Horslips, Magnum, Jethro Tull, Fish, Lumsk and other prog rock

For me, Ladyhawke is pure ArM - fantastic elements, a rocking curse, nobles, the church, vagabonds, the whole shooting match.


A fourth vote from me on Guy Gavriel Kay. "Tigana" may not be my favorite book in the world -- that honor alternates between "Bridge of Birds" and "Curse of Chalion" -- but it's definitely in the top 3. :smiley:

Speaking of "Curse of Chalion", by Lois McMaster Bujold, it's definitely got some Ars Magica-like elements to it, although the primary thrust of the book is an investigation of what the Divine might look like in a fantasy, pantheistic setting. It's an awfully good book, I heartily recommend it and its sequels. (For that matter, one of the sequels -- 'The Hallowed Hunt' -- has some interesting ideas for Bjornaer Mysteries in it. :smiley: )

I was looking around for something new to read, so I picked up a copy of "Colours in the Steel".
A tenth of the way through it, I put the book down and went and picked up copies of the rest the rest of the Fencer trilogy, and the Scavenger trilogy as well. You were right. She's good. :smiley:

Yeah I know right? Such a random find for me and then I was swept away that she has been writing for so long and I missed it. :laughing:
The way she does magic is subtle and the conspiracies and purpose behind characters are jaw droppingly pretty, hahaha

The Company and The Folding Knife are great stand alone novels!