Having commented a couple of time about movies and TV shows and such that inspire or at least flavour the Ars imagination, I wanted to do the same for the written word.
Now I know that this being Ars we are going to have books written centuries ago in the original dialect of the times, those are awesome, but I was hoping for something on par with movies and such. So anyone have favorite books that help them along in Ars?
Currently I have enjoyed Karen Maitland's Owl Killers and Company of Liars. Both seem to scream companion story, with tinges of faerie, infernal, and magic.
I also have enjoyed K.J. Parker even though all of her writings take place in fictional worlds, still the two trilogies I have read of hers, the Engineer Trilogy and the Fencer Trilogy, are perfect in nearly every way imaginable. I thoroughly enjoy them. OH and the Engineer trilogy addresses the current topic of flour explosions. They use it in the second book to wage a surprise attack!
While I wanted to end with Bernard Cornwell's Saxon chronicles, or possible talk about how amazing Abercrombie's First Law world is, but alas I wanted to end my trilogy of fabulous writers of Ars reference materials to mention Guy Gavriel Kay. While he writes a entirely fictional world, it is not that easy to encompass to call it fiction. He uses our real past and our real world and then changes everything about them. This is not the best review, but it is hard to explain how you can read a story that has fictional religions, fictional cultures, and fictional races, and yet you completely recognize their real world analogs of the middle ages.
Elizabeth Moon´s Paksenarrion series(all of them i mean). These ones have a great atmosphere and lots of ideas that can be used with ease.
Katharine Kerr´s Deverry series. Among other things, once used the world in the series to provide an extra island/continent in the middle of the ocean.
Discworld books(yes seriously). Not something you can use right away, but some things dont need much fixing to fit in.
L.E. Modesitt´s Spellsong Cycle series(and to a much lesser degree the Recluce series as their magic(and overall) style just doesnt work well with AM). "Spellsinger" was one of the first HR extra Virtues i made. Still cool.
Janny Wurt´s Daughter of the Empire series(ties in with some of R Feist books). Great ideas for a little of everything.
Frans G Bengtsson "Röde Orm"(Red Serpent or something like that) old classic viking romp&stomp, not so historically accurate probably but close enough and provides a horde of stories and personalitites.
Lotta Olivecrona´s Vren series, used vrens as a magical creature, that was neat. Postapocalyptic fantasy. Not sure if it´s out in English or anything though.
Tamora Pierce, just about any of her fantasy series(Circle of magic, Immortals etc) can be looked at for ideas.
As for Olivecrona, a friend of mine in Minnesota has her books, all three I think, and she laughs at me for not trying to read them. Although last I checked there is a PDF file out there somewhere that someone made that has a translation of the second book, for some reason. I myself tried google translate and it crashes and burns.
The rest of your suggestions have now be written down and sent to my books store, except Elizabeth Moon. I tried twice to read the one book I own, Oath of Fealty, but got distracted by other books. It felt cumbersome for some reason to get into. But after looking her up after you suggested it, I think I will give THAT book a try again, after I finish Eco's The Island of the Day Before. Island is proving to be so difficult for my small mind that I shall return to Moon with total relief.
I´m just now reading the latest book in the Paladins legacy, "Echoes of Betrayal", just got it yesterday.
Oath of Fealty is the last book in the original Paksenarrion trilogy so it may be a bit too hard to jump in on it like that, major risk of not knowing what the heck is going on.
Google translate for books, that is pretty much instafail unfortunately. Just a few weeks ago i tried using it to translate the lyrics for a tune, and... lol... i had to replace at least 1/4 of the words and then do quite a bit of grammatical changes to make it even halfdecent.
But nice to hear the series has been caught on elsewhere.
Oh yes. And latest book, "Snuff" will be third book that i read once i´m done with current one(started with A Rising Thunder yesterday).
Just a pity Pratchett´s done with the Tiffany Aching books, liked those.
I think I mentioned this one a while back. The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington has a great scene with a witch in the woods, and another with a plague demon devastating a town and monastery. Set around 1300, it provides some nice period atmosphere as well.
I quite like Anathem by Neal Stephenson. It goes into quite a lot of detail about a weird group of scholars who are locked away from their mainstream society and spend their time on the intellectual arts. Essentially monastics dedicated to science and philosophy rather than religion. Reminded me greatly of a particularly huge covenant.
We've had threads like this before, and someone with better search-fu than me could help us all by finding them.
I'll add Gore Vidal's "A Search for the King" to the list. It retells the mistral Blondel's search for Richard the Lion-Heart after he is captured by Austrian nights on his way home from the Holy Land. There is a spectacular battle with a dragon, an encounter with a lady vampire, werewolves, and miles of descriptive prose that a storyguide could use for regiones and magic auras.
There is also Mr. Bullington's The Enterprise of Death, which concerns a Muslim necromancer and her rag-tag band of friends searching Europe for a necromancer's manual. It is on par with his earlier book.
Of course Stephen Lawhead did a very unique and wonderful take on the Robin Hood story, the King Raven trilogy is absolutely wonderful!
The only other book I would suggest, since I HATED Lawheads Pendragon and Dragon King books (ugh so... ugh filled with the Christian god and ugh I cannot write anymore the memory is painful)
...BUT the Byzantium book is a thing of insight. It was terrific and ties so well with the Ars period and gives a great Loch Leagan, Novgorod, Theban, Levant, and Cradle and Crescent adventure. If you want an adventure in Ars to be as spanning as to involve nearly every Tribunal, you would not go wrong reading this book for ideas on how events can twist and transpire.
I loved Byzantium, even though I have read many books since that are better written with grander ideas, this one launched my reading of historical fiction.
Elizabeth moon is very good as long as you chose the right series:
Deeds of Paksenarrion series (Sheepfarmer's Daughter, Divided Allegiance, OAth of Gold) needs to be read first as without reading that, the others don't flow well as stand alone or pickup. It is good about mercenary company structures, wars and such and the magic tends to be fairly low key in the first couple books. It also shows some elements of court.
Tamora pierce's tortall books are very good. Two of the series (Alanna and Protector of the small) really are good for page/squire/knight training as well as some of the politics that kings can use to keep control of their kingdom (such as royal progress). The Beka cooper series is very good for a medeival city justice system and while there is magic, it is minimal and limited (until the last book).
Many of the Robin hood books are good. I like Outlaws of Sherwood myself
I liked ther Masters of Rome series by Collen McCullough. The politics of the city always read like a Tribunal to me, with the upstarts, the factions and the voting blocks that can be swayed et al, and the exConsuls acting like Praecos and Quaesitors, sitting there.