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  • Reference and Research for Dark Eras 2

    So knowing lots of people here are history buffs and a good number of us have history degrees, I asked on the Kickstarter if it would be helpful for those of us with a background in the Eras selected compiled resources and books for the devs & writers to reference. Matt said that he liked that idea and the Dev Team had talked about wanting a solid historical backing already. Since I love compiling reading lists, here I am asking all of you: If you had to write a non-fiction reading list for Dark Eras 2, what would you include.

    Let's keep this in the realm of historical fact for now. If you have a fictional inspiration you want to talk about, I encourage you



    Islamic Golden Age

    A Concise History of the Arabs by John McHugo: A solid read, and unsurprisingly, there is a lot about the Abassids in this books.

    A History of Shi'i Islam by Farhad Daftary*: A thorough, but not overwhelming, history of the various branches and denominations of Shi'ites, many of whom were very active during the Golden Age. This is a very good read, and I would highly recommend it.

    Assassin Legends: Myths of the Isma'ilis by Farhad Daftry*: The legendary assassin nation has captured the minds of people worldwide, most recently in the Assassin's Creed series. Unfortunately, legendary is exactly the word for it. The promised lands of hashish and harems of women on top of mountains never existed, but a scholarly Shi'ite faith, largely steeped in Gnostic and Sufi philosophy, did. These people still exist today, they are the Ismailis. Daftry is the leading scholar in Ismaili history, and here he separates the myths and racist rhetoric that led to the creation of legends about the assassins from the actual lives of the Nizari Ismaili State (and yes, they did sometimes use assassination as a tactic, but they were far from the only ones). If you include the Nizari State in this Era (and I really hope you do for a lot of reasons) this is an absolute must read, since it will help you write a fair and respectful portrayal that is still awesome.

    Crossroads of War: A Historical Atlas of the Middle East by Ian Barnes: I find Atlases very useful for historical RPGs, and this one is gorgeous. It takes a look at all of Middle Eastern history, but obviously, there is a lot of attention given to Islamic civilisations at their height. This atlas also has a specific focus on military history, which pairs it with Ruthven's Atlas below (indeed, she also contributed to this book). Conflict often gives rise to plot hooks, so you may want to look here.

    Eagle's Nest: Ismaili Castles in Syria and Iran by Peter Willey*: An excellent read, containing an accessible short history of Ismailis, then a breakdown of the locations, geographies, and architectures of each of the Nizari State strongholds. It is a really interesting look into a very specific style of medieval castle and one of my favourite pickups in the last couple of years. Just don't buy it on Amazon. I got my copy for $30 Canadian at my partner's Jamatkhane.

    God's Rule: Government and Islam by Patricia Crone: If you plan on doing anything with the al-Amin covenant from Ancient Mysteries (and I really hope you do), this is a good overview of the philosophical and legal foundations of various Islamic states. It also has the added bonus of having some good information of the Kharijites, who are not nearly as well known as the Sunnis and Shi'ites of this time period. I'm just saying, VII Kharijites would be fucking rad and fucking terrifying at the same time.

    Historical Atlas of Islam by Malise Ruthven: I love this book so much. Maps are one of my jams, and the illustrations in this book are top notch, providing excellent visuals as to the way the Islamic world connected together. Great for inspiration, and probably a decent resource to recommend to players as well.

    Makers of the Muslim World Series by One World Publications: I've had multiple books in this series as textbooks. They are shorter reads certainly hit the highlights of Islamic Civilization.

    Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism by Julian Baldick: Sufi Mysticism kind of exploded during the Golden Age. This book covers the histories and doctrines of the various occult Islamic orders from Islam's inception to the modern day. Many Sufis were also heavily influenced by the Greek Philosophers, particularly the Neoplatonists, who also influence the philosophies of several of CofD's gamelines, so there is plenty of overlap to work with here.

    New Islamic Dynasties: A Chronological and Genealogical Manual (2014 edition) by C.E. Bosworth: Don't let the dull sounding name fool you. I'm actually reading this one right now for fun, it is super easy and light to get through. It covers a solid 186 Islamic states plus smaller city-states (particularly in Iberia and Anatolia) from the Successors of the Prophet all the way to the modern day. Each state gets a complete king list, as well as brief summary highlighting major developments and contributions of that nation. A great way to get a handle on who's who in time periods you aren't familiar with. Get it on Kindle, it is way cheaper and easier than trying to track down a physical copy.

    Zayed: Man Who Built A Nation by Graeme Wilson: This one may be a bit tougher to get, but it could be worthwhile. This is the biography of Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the man who built the United Arab Emirates. Normally I wouldn't include this book, but if you wanted to extend the era all the way to modern times, Abu Dhabi is an excellent place to do it. Of particular note is the coup where Zayed first took power from his brother Shakhbut. Both men were driven by a fear: for Shakhbut, the fear that developing oil would cause his people to lose their cultures and traditions, while Zayed feared that not developing the nacent nation's natural resources would lead to domination by other imperial powers. Both men were probably right. At the other end of his life, the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque is by far the most genuine location in all of Abu Dhabi (3 years of personal experience speaking here) and it easily captures the spirit of the 1001 Nights even standing in the heart of modern Abu Dhabi. Zayed designed it before his death, and it is here he is buried. This man is a fascinating visionary, and a worthy subject for an entire era on his own.

    * These are books that were produced with the help of the Aga Khan Foundation. Since they deal with Ismaili history, check if there is an Ismaili Jamatkhane local to your region. They will have a literature desk where you should be able to either buy these for a reasonable cost or order them in. I am absolutely certain that someone would be willing to help point you in the direction of more resources if you asked.



    Light of the Sun

    Galileo Went to Jail and Other Myths About Science and Religion edited by Ronald Numbers: A collection of essays about various aspects of Science and Religion. Galileo Galilei, Giordano Bruno, Rene Descartes, and Isaac Newton all loom large over the 1600s for various reasons, and each of them gets an essay dedicated to them in this book. There is also an essay that could be beneficial for 1001 Nights.

    Religion and Science: Historical and Contemporary Issues by Ian Barbour: An essential work for Early Modern Studies. Part 1 unpacks the History of Science and Religion, and in particular, Chapter 1 focuses on the 1600s. Parts 2-4 then examine the relationship between Science and Religion along with the syncretisms and tensions between them.

    Science and Religion, 1450-1900: Copernicus to Darwin by Richard Olson: Awesome, awesome book. This was a required reading for me in university when I studied the history of science and religion, and it has survived every move and purge since. It hits every century it covers in detail and I just can't recommend it enough.




    French Revolution

    Revolutions Podcast by Mike Duncan: Okay, yes, it's a podcast so it's not strictly speaking an academic work, but it is extremely thoroughly researched and in a highly digestible and understandable format. If nothing else, you probably want to list this as an inspiration in the French Revolution Chapter, as it is one of the best ways to bone up on your revolutionary history quickly.




    Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

    History of Rome Podcast by Mike Duncan: Hey look, it's the same guy! This was Duncan's breakout podcast and it. Is. Amazing. Given that Pompey the Great was fighting pirates and Mithridates in Anatolia during this time period, there will be some useful info here.

    Death Throes of the Republic by Dan Carlin: I don't know if Dan's touched RPGs ever in his life, but if he has, Dark Eras would be right up his alley. Hardcore History is the other exhaustively researched history podcast and Dan's series on Rome is Hardcore History at its finest. At $10, this is an absolute steal of a deal and definitely worth a listen.

    The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy by Adrienne Mayor: Pontus controls a number of the Ancient Wonders in this time period, at least until Rome comes calling. The life of Mithradates the Great is fascinating in its own right, and the war for control of Anatolia is a major highlight between 100 and 50 BCE.

    The Romans: From Village to Empire by M T Boatwright, D J Gargola, and R J A Talbert: This is another textbook I've held on to from my undergrad years. An excellent and comprehensive guide to the Roman world. Should be useful if you want to look at Rome's expanding influence over the lands in which the Ancient Wonders Reside. I've linked to the edition I own, but I believe there is another, more recent one out there.




    The Great War - Western Front

    Blueprint for Armageddon by Dan Carlin: More of Dan's awesome, awesome history podcast. Dan skips between the Western and Eastern fronts here, but with such a plethora of modern resources to work from, he really brings home the horror of the war, both for the people in the trenches and those out of them. He also has good coverage of the implications of the Great War beyond the trenches, like how countries managed to keep recruiting soldiers even when the public new how bad the battlefield actually was. It is morbid and fascinating all the way through. There's a bit over 27 hours of content across six episodes and it is all worth it. Dan also has reference lists of the books he used for research for individual episodes. Currently free on Dan's website and on iTunes.

    The First World War: The Western Front 1914-16 and 1917-1918 by Peter Simkins: Each of these books is only about 90 pages long, but they are extremely thorough and effective for their page count. Excellent resources for a Storyteller or Player who is unfamiliar with the Great War. They also contain great maps of the various offensives throughout the war. I've had them on my bookshelf for about 15 years, and reading them again has been one of the happiest byproducts of this Kickstarter. Geoffary Jukes also wrote a book in the same line on the Eastern Front.

    The Great War by Indiana Neidell: Yup, just sent you to Youtube. There are tonnes of easily available research on WWI, but this is one of the coolest, and in depth, projects I've ever seen. Indy is recounting the course of the Great War, week-by-week, 100 years later. It is very well researched, very in depth, and yet very accessible. The blow by blow action of war is certainly the main event, but Indy also takes a couple of looks at the bigger picture each week, looking at famous (or infamous) figures during the war, tactics, technology, and social developments on the front & at home. The first episode also has a chunk on how the French Revolution changed warfare in a way that eventually led to the Great War. Comes very highly recommended.

    Intimate Voices from the First World War by Svetlana Palmer and Sarah Wallis: The First World War is notable for its plethora of primary resources, but often the focus gets put on the notable leaders of the Great War and the figures who would rise to power in the Second World War, like Churchhill and Hitler's memoirs of WWI. This book takes a different approach, using diaries and letters written by soldiers and civilians to give you a clear view of what the experience of the war was like for people living in the moment.

    Marching As To War by Pierre Breton: Breton is the master of Canadian History. This book examines the impact that the Boer War, the World Wars, and the Korean War had on Canada and our views of ourselves. I could read this man's work forever.

    Vimy by Pierre Breton: If there is one book you read on the Canadians in WWI, make it this one. The Battle for Vimy Ridge is nothing less than a national legend for us, the moment when Canada stopped being a colony and started becoming a nation. While this narrative has been overblown at times, there is truth to it as well. Vimy was a butcher ground that the French and the British both failed to push the Germans off of. Vimy was the first occasion that the Canadian Regiments fought together. Vimy was the first moment that the Canadians swept the Germans back out of their positions, doing in days what others failed to do in years. Vimy was the moment where the disparate peoples from across North American who enlisted to fight in European War became a tribe. Vimy was one of the moment's where Canada's multicultural Krew was forged in the heat of war. The themes of Werewolf and Geist run throughout this story. Breton's writing is excellent, as always, and here has used so many primary resources, journals, and memoirs, that he is effectively telling a first-hand account of what the battle was like, interspersed with occasional analysis. If you want to know what life in the trenches was like, Vimy is a must read.

    The World War I Document Archive: The largest database of primary resources for the Great War on the web. Pretty much a must-use.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 07-11-2017, 02:14 PM.


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  • #2
    Okay, I think I've got some of my major sources covered. I'll keep adding more once I'm back at my house and can browse through my shelves. I'm weak on Qing China and Age of Piracy though, so, by all means, contribute your own suggestions!


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    • #3
      Alright, that should be everything for now. There is one more book, but unless one of you is travelling to Abu Dhabi soon, it will probably be out of reach. If I come up with anything else, I'll add it in!


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      • #4
        For the Golden Age of Islam, I remember reading "When Baghdad ruled the Muslim World" by Hugh Kennedy for school about a decade ago. I reread it every now an then for kicks. His other book, "The Great Arab Conquests" was an interesting read as well, though it describes the time right before the Golden Age of Islam.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Starglyte View Post
          His other book, "The Great Arab Conquests" was an interesting read as well, though it describes the time right before the Golden Age of Islam.
          As far as I've seen, each Dark Era tries to contextualize the history it's describing, and I don't think you can do that for the Golden Age properly without meantioning the Rashidun, the Shiate Ali, and the Umayyads. I haven't read this one so I can't vouch for it, but if it gives a good overview of the history that ultimately led to the rise of the Abassids, it is worth a read.


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          • #6
            Just grabbing off the shelf in my library for now, will expand this list as I find more titles.

            Rise of the Last Imperials

            God's Chinese Son: The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom of Hong Xiuquan by Jonathan D. Spence: I could go on and on about the Taiping Rebellion. Its an understudied but incredibly important period, not only for understanding the decline and eventual collapse of the Qing, but also in terms of repercussions felt through Chinese history to the modern day and in terms of the changing world of the nineteenth century more broadly. If I go into any more detail I won't stop till I've gotten a couple pages.

            Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China by Jung Chang: Cixi was an incredibly divisive figure in life and has remained controversial long after her death. What cannot be denied is that for good and ill she had her hand on the rudder of the late Qing dynasty and her influence was widely felt in her long political career. Personally I find this book to be bit apologist at points, but I include it specifically because one doesn't really want for portrayals of Cixi as a historical villain and this does provide a counter-narrative.

            China: A New History by John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman: Solid survey textbook, and pages 163-234 cover the years 1600 to 1911 specifically.

            I'll admit most of my study of the Qing dynasty is back loaded on its decline from the Qianlong Emperor to the Double Ten Revolution, which really only covers a little over forty percent of it. I just happen to think that's the period when the Qing gets really... interesting...



            Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

            The Classical World: An Epic History From Homer to Hadrian by Robin Lane Fox: Another excellent survey that provides a solid foundation upon which to build an understanding not only of the Classical era but how Romans saw themselves in relation to that history.

            SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard: Still in survey territory but zeroing in much closer to the era we're talking about and delivered in very readable prose. Also contains some useful discussion about the evolving historiography of Ancient Rome.

            Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of An Ancient Civlization by Richard Miles: This one is actually a bit before the timeframe we're talking about, but the Punic Wars were still very much a part of the Roman cultural memory in that period. Understanding the rivalry and hegemonic conflict between Rome and Carthage in last centuries B.C.E. lays the field upon which the drama of this period unfolds.
            Last edited by Caitiff Primogen; 07-19-2017, 02:21 AM.

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            • #7
              Thank you for this thread, this will be a great reference! I'm especially looking forward to diving into that list of Islamic Golden Age resources.

              If anyone has anything else to recommend, please feel free!


              Meghan Fitzgerald | Onyx Path freelance writer & developer
              Changeling: The Lost developer
              Mage: The Awakening developer

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Meghan Fitzgerald View Post
                Thank you for this thread, this will be a great reference! I'm especially looking forward to diving into that list of Islamic Golden Age resources.

                If anyone has anything else to recommend, please feel free!
                I've got more! I just need to sit down and write them out.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Second Chances View Post
                  I've got more! I just need to sit down and write them out.
                  I found the Chinese ones really useful, if only as they offer a starting point. The place has such a rich history but it's so dauntingly massive, stretching well into BC times and over a huge area.

                  Some references for King Arthur's Brittania would be great. I've never been too interested in the Arthurian cycle and always thought it was more mythical than anything. No idea how much influence it had on the real area, if any.

                  I'm guessing for the developers books on the Golden Age of Piracy would help.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by nofather View Post

                    I found the Chinese ones really useful, if only as they offer a starting point. The place has such a rich history but it's so dauntingly massive, stretching well into BC times and over a huge area.

                    Some references for King Arthur's Brittania would be great. I've never been too interested in the Arthurian cycle and always thought it was more mythical than anything. No idea how much influence it had on the real area, if any.

                    I'm guessing for the developers books on the Golden Age of Piracy would help.
                    I won't stick them in here unless Brittania gets the next stretch goal, but I do have two excellent books on the historical Arthur, which I'll PM you. The Great Courses also has an excellent course on the Arthurian Canon.


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                    • #11
                      Alrighty then, here's another resource, and it's not the one I talked about above.

                      The Great Courses / Great Courses Plus

                      This one is a bit different. The Great Courses provides university level courses taught by experts in various fields. There are tons of useful resources in here, but a lot of them gets really pricey really quickly, so I would strongly suggest going for the Great Courses Plus, which is their Netflix-like subscription service. The subscription works out to be able $15 a month, if OPP can get one to share between freelancers, it is going to be a huge steal of a deal.

                      That said, there are probably useful courses that aren't GC+ but are on the regular website. In that case, keep in mind that these go on sale every other month. DO NOT BUY IF THEY ARE NOT ON SALE. Fielding multiple competitive 40k armies would be cheaper. You can also get them in audio instead of video, which reduces the cost significantly.

                      For those of us not freelancing, there are a metric buttload of useful courses for the original Dark Eras as well.

                      Here is a selection of courses that may be useful for Dark Eras 2. I have omitted all of the course on Rome, as there are too many to list, as well as most of the science-based courses, since they all cover scientific history that would be relevant to Light of the Sun. I will progressively add to this list when I have time.

                      Great Courses PlusGreat Courses


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                      • #12
                        Here we come with more books!

                        Multiple Eras

                        From Zoroaster to 'Umr Khayyam: The first of a series of Anthologies on Persian Philosophy. This volume contains texts from both Zoroastrianism and written by Persian philosophers during the Islamic Golden Age. A useful resource for both Seven Wonders and 1001 Nights. Make sure you get this one from an Ismaili Jamatkhane. It can sell upwards of $400-$500 online. I got my copy for a measly $9. Nine bucks!

                        1001 Nights

                        Both of the following books will also be available at Ismaili Jamatkhanes.

                        Exploring an Islamic Empire by Paul Walker: A solid primer on the Fatimid Empire and how we know about them. The first half book is the historical narrative, the second half is an exploration of the sources we have for the Fatimids and what their contextual importance was at the time. The section on coins may be quite useful, especially if Changeling gets added like so many people seem to want. By its very nature, this book also touches on the Ayubbids and Salah al-Din, who ended the Fatimids from within to give rise to the Ayyubids.

                        Surviving the Mongols by Nadia Eboo Jamal: This is literally at the end of the Islamic Golden Age, as the Mongols sweep in and destroy the Nizari and Abbasid states alike. It focuses on the Ismaili perspective and the subsequent diaspora of Ismailis through central Asia, but it may be of interest in the context of 1001 Nights since it focuses on the Poet Nizari Quhistani.

                        Western Front

                        Trench Fighting 1914-1918 by Charles Messenger: This is a short read, but a solid one that is replete with maps, photos, and weapon schematics that could be useful. It is part of the very, very long Pan Ballantine Illustrated History of the First World War, which I am sure will yield more useful resources.

                        Golden Age of Piracy

                        Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy by Frank Sherry: An excellent and engaging look the Golden Age. Sherry is excellent at bringing history to life, and he goes in depth into the force that gave rise to 18th-century piracy as well as the charismatic personalities of the age. He also gives the due to the areas outside the Caribbean that contributed to the Golden Age. After reading it, I am very much hoping to see New York, Madagascar, and India covered in this era as well.


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                        • #13
                          As promised, here are some more. I believe Arcanist will be a veritable wellspring on sources for Arthurian Britannia as well.

                          Qing China

                          Profit and Protection: Emin Khwaja and the Qing Conquest of Central Asia 1759-1777 by Kwangmin Kim: China is so huge that it is easy to forget that along with its massive population comes massive diversity. This journal is worth a read if for no other reason than to remind you of that diversity. It considers the relationship between the Qing and the Chinese Muslims on the frontier during the late 18th century, and how they aided in the conquest of Xinjiang.

                          Arthurian Britannia

                          Arthur the Dragon King by Howard Reid: Fair warning, this one is highly speculative and there are some logical leaps that are suspect. In particular, Reid is rather fixated on the idea that Arthur must have fought like a medieval knight regardless of time period and must have had a code of chivalry. The vast majority of scholars (both historical and literary) would strongly disagree, saying that medieval writers of the Arthurian canon projected their culture back in time on a Roman Arthur. With that said, this is an informative and interesting read none the less, which could provide you with some plausible ways to integrate later Arthurian tropes into a Roman setting. Treat with skepticism due to the anachronisms, but it could be useful.

                          Revealing King Arthur by Christopher Gidlow: A solid archeological survey and attempt to track down the truth behind Arthur's legend that works hard to be both open minded and skeptical enough to think critically. Definitely a good place to look.


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                          • #14
                            Soooo... it turns out that the first volume of the Journal of Abbasid Studies is publicly accessible online. It may be helpful and next time I get to doing a resource dump I'll talk about the Melchert article in particular.


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                            • #15
                              Second ChancesYou know, I was actually going to post the Gidlow book for Arthurian Britain myself. Gidlow is good, and goes over the archaeology quite well, but his timelines are... iffy. Arthurian research is very difficult because most authors who bother to publish have a horse in the race. They have an Arthur candidate that they favour, and the book will go about shoehorning facts into fitting a narrative instead of chasing the evidence or giving a good overview. The other alternative is that they find the search for a "historical" Arthur futile and hilarious, mocking the efforts while presenting themselves as an authority on the subject.

                              My advice to the people writing the Arthurian section is read many differing opinions, read the primary source material, and come up with a conclusion for yourself.

                              Arthurian Britain

                              A Brief History of King Arthur by Mike Ashley: This is a newer addition of the book that got me started on the subject, and one of the best that goes into an overview of a lot of the different perspectives and theories on Arthur, if there was one, and who he was. Ashely tends to favour either the Southern Arthur (potentially synonymous with the very mysterious actual person Ambrosius Aurelianus) or the Northern Arthur (unknown person, possibly Arthwys ap Mar if he was anyone at all) but flip flops. All-in-all a good primer, and the bibliography will help you jump all the way down the rabbit hole if you want to chase it.

                              A Brief History of Druids by Peter Ellis: For better or worse, the Merlin legend is now inextricably tied with legends of the Druids, those mysterious and much maligned priests, scholars, judges, and leaders of the numerous Celtic peoples. By the time of the 5th Century the Druidic tradition Caesar wrote about is non-existent, but it survives in the Irish bardic tradition (which may have been the Welsh bardic tradition as well, but the book gets into that). Ellis goes out of his way to construct who the Druids were, and what they were like, and even draws connections to Vedic India. Reading it with the lens of Mage: The Awakening, it presents a good image of how the Darshanas look amongst Celtic people, and potentially a look at Merlin's branch of the Silver Ladder.

                              Vortigern Studies by Robert Vermaath: A solid website with a lot of scholarly articles, a decent bibliography, and good translations of all the primary historical documents which have been edited to include only the bits pertinent to the time period. Much like "A Brief History of King Arthur" it is an excellent jumping off point, if a little less in-depth and a little more disjointed than a book. Being a website with a lot of different articles, you also get views from many scholars instead of just one, which is also a plus.

                              Worlds of Arthur by Guy Halsall: This man is one of the top scholars on the Early Middle Ages. He is academically and archaeologically focused, which is good if you want to get to the root of the history, but he is not an easy read in the slightest. He's an academic who is used to writing for other academics, and the main resource here is the archaeological overview. His conclusions regarding history and the cultural/political climate will not be a surprise to someone who's done additional reading. Halsall's other books are worth a look for setting the stage and illustrating what comes after. He's an expert on the Migratory Period and especially military arcaheology.

                              The Roman Army by Chris McNab: Written by noted military history publisher Osprey, this book might come as a surprise for the Arthurian period, but the armies of the Romano-British were, fundamentally, underfunded and understaffed extensions of the Late Roman Army, so the back quarter of the book is vitally important. Osprey books are a quick, easy read with good illustrations and they like to include pictures or diagrams of archaeological finds to show they did their homework, which makes them a great art resource and a great bibliography book. They actually wrote a book on 5th Century Britain but it's highly speculative. Focusing on Late Roman or proper Anglo-Saxon materials is probably much more productive.

                              The Book of Taliesin by Unknown: I know of no easily accessible copy of this book, but translations of the poems are easily accessible online. This book and all its poems are ascribed to the legendary bard Taliesin, who according to legend was actually a pupil of Myrddin/Lailoken/Merlin before he died his triple death, and was supposedly the best bard in British history. Only twelve of the poems might actually date from the 6th Century, but those that do give a good sense of the "feel" of the time and the poetry.

                              Y Gododdin by Aneirin: A poem written at the twilight of the Arthurian Age, after the last of the great Kings of the North have fallen, the poet Aneirin was the only survivor of a battle in which the actual man behind Sir Owain of the Round Table, King Owain of Rheged, fell in a desperate final battle against the Angles of Deria to hold a fort called Catraeth. Anerian was possibly the brother of Gildas, a monk who legend says had a grudge against Arthur and who is our only contemporary British voice from the beginning of the 6th Century, writing a scathing sermon where he expresses his disgust that the kings of his day are so much lesser than the great man Ambrosius Aurelianus (Gildas is basically our only real source for what actually happened). Aneirin's poem is the very first literary mention of Arthur, actually, the very first mention of Arthur anywhere. His poem is full of beautiful, romantic fatalism that characterizes this time period, and really sets the mood for any work set in the Arthurian period. Perhaps the most notable part about this poem? It isn't meant to be an epic, it's a series of elegies. Three hundred some men (possibly up to 363) rode to Catraeth, and only three (plus to poet) lived. Almost every stanza praises an individual warrior, whom the listeners would have known, possibly personally, or the host as a whole. This fact alone gives "Y Gododdin" a dignified, morose intimacy.

                              And that's all the non-fiction pieces that I can really think of off the top of my head. I also have a list of folklore and historical fiction I think would be helpful, so if anyone wants to see any of that, I can absolutely post those lists too.
                              Last edited by Arcanist; 07-29-2017, 12:45 AM.


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