Period Book

Has anyone else read "The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart" by Jesse Bullington? It's set in 1364 and is a darkly humorous account of the adventures of a pair of grave-robbing brothers as they travel from Germany, through Venice, and into Egypt. Several horribly gruesome scenes involving witches and demons have given me some ideas for my home saga. There is also some really well done backstory about one of the witches and how she and her manticore husband came to be, which I also plan on working in at some point. The edition I found has an extensive bibliography as well.

No, but I read Eifelheim from Michael Flynn which is set in 1348 in the Black Forest. The University-educated priest shows how alien their mindset was. Wikipedia has a good summary.

Yes, I've read it. I liked the first half very, very much. The second half (once they get to venice) not so much. I lifted the entire sequence of the witch and dumped it on my travelling party. They liked it very much. After killing the "manti-loup" they knew enough not to inform the witch, but were haughty enough not to worry about her finding out later. Their mistake I think :slight_smile:


Look up some works by Sylvian Hamilton.

The Bone-pedler, The Gleemaiden and The Pendragon Banner all take place around 1210-1225

IIRC, i have read an excerpt of it once long ago.

I've mentioned this before. Umbero Eco's Baudolino is spectacular. I've read it several times and will probably read it again at some point.

Matt Ryan

Pillars of the Earth, altho' it's purely mundane.

(And the Brother Cadfael series, if a bit light, still very entertaining in a "Inspector Poirot" style). :slight_smile:

Yeah, the Cadfael books (or the Derek Jacobi series) aren't heavy reading but still provide a lot that can be drawn on: the region itself, life in a monastery, life during an intermittent civil war, and some of the general problems faced by border regions (more the books than the series for this last one).

I don’t think the mysteries themselves would translate well – it’s hard to mix mundane mysteries with magic power and have anything worthwhile afterwards. I can see elements of Cadfael himself that would work well for a companion character, although I’d lean more towards supporting characters for inspiration: Rhodri ap Huw from St. Peter’s Fair, the Welsh wool merchant (and spy) who pretends he doesn’t know English so he can readily eavesdrop on others and report this information back to Prince Owain. Or Brother Tutilo from The Holy Thief, whose is used as a pawn in a fight over relics. Or Guimar de Massard from The Leper of Saint Giles, who is just plain awesome. . . . and now that I think of it a companion who belonged to the Order of Saint Lazarus would be awfully fun.

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh is probably the most Ars-flavoured book I've ever read (although I don't read much fantasy, so I'm not the best judge). It's a children's book (and none the worse for that) and is set in 1347. There is nothing in the novel that equates to the Dominion, but, other than that, it's extremely Ars-ish.

The Children of Alexandria series, by Mercedes Lackey, Dave Freer and Eric Flint also has a a nice Ars-ish feel although it is set in 1537 (Shadow of the Lion, this Rough Magic, A Mankind Witch, Much Fall of Blood). There is no Order of Hermes or equivalent (the closest thing would be the Servants of the Trinity, an order of priests/mages), but there is something like the Dominion, the Infernal, and magic/faerie beings (there is no clear distinction between the two), and there is magic (holy, infernal, and magic/faerie).

The first book is available for free at ... -lion.aspx

I second Baudolino. Must dig it out again...


How does it compare to Focault's Pendulum? In style et al, I mean.



I didn't make it through Foucault's Pendulum. I did read The Island of the Day Before, which I liked, but thought that it lost itself as it struggled to conclude. It's probably the subject matter, but Baudolino hit the nail on the head as far as reading material went for me.

Not much of an answer, sorry.

Another book I liked a lot was The Voyage of the Short Serpent. I would recommend this; it is a quick read.

Matt Ryan

Forgive the thread necromancy, but I thought that this might be of interest.

I am currently reading Krabat by Otfried Preussler. It is set in the sixteenth century, so it's quite a bit out of period, but it has a distinctly Ars-ish feel: there is even a proper Muto Animal Certamen. Its extremely folk-tale-like details could lend themselves very well to story hooks, minor side stories, or Faerie-based events. Worth a look.

I think I will help clearing the dirt away, this is a great thread IMO to have rise again

Eco's Baudolino is a delight. We are starting a Theban game and this is a grog I made for it: Gavagai :smiley:

Karen Maitland's books "Company of Liars" and "The Owl Killers" are both just too great to not have read. Granted they are set in the 14th century, but both compliment Ars quite well.


I enjoyed it; although the description of the end is something of an anticlimax (which might be down to the translator). I think that it will be especially useful for ideas for pacts and bargains (Faerie or Infernal).

Although it is out of period (set in 1700s...and modern period), the 1700s bits are quite inspiring in the book Hawksmoor The 1700s character is a sort of demon-worshipping architect/magician.

Gavagai? And the character seems to be about the problem of interpretation, and have a detached part... Very, very Eco.

(The name is a reference to an example used by Willard van Orman Quine to argue that it is all but impossible to interpret someone else's language as anything other than a whole. If someone says "gavagai" while pointing at a rabbit, does gavagai mean "rabbit"? Or "single temporal instantiation of a rabbit"? Or "bundle of undetached rabbit parts"?)

Thanks! :slight_smile:

I look forward to seeing our group interpret this grog if and when they play him.

In the same way Eco wrote himself into his story, I think as gamers we often write ourself into our characters, however this time I wrote a character into a character... ummm