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Reference and Research for Dark Eras 2

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  • Second Chances
    started a topic Reference and Research for Dark Eras 2

    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.

  • wyrdhamster
    Found today great site - - that makes nicely readable in plain language articles on almost all historical topics. It's co-run with Oxford University.

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  • Second Chances
    To all of no one's surprise, I've been reading more. Here's what I've found this time around.

    1001 Nights

    Dreaming in Christianity and Islamedited by Kelly Bulkeley, Kate Adams, and Patricia Davis: Interesting read. The authors are focused on finding common ground between Christianity and Islam through dreams, which seems like a godsend for an era that involves Beast. Includes an essay on Jinn doppelgangers that exist in dreams. Good stuff.

    The Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy: The most modern translation of the oldest text of the Arabian Nights that we have. Very easy and enjoyable to read. Haddawy makes a concerted effort to avoid the biases of earlier translations. Haddawy is an Iraqi born in Baghdad and thus a native Arabic speaker, which is an advantage that the European translators decidedly don’t have.

    Sinbad and Other Stories from the Arabian Nights translated by Husain Haddawy: Also Haddaway. Still accessible and easy to read. This test includes later additions to the Arabian Nights like Sinbad, Ala ad-Din, and Ali Baba that don’t appear until after Europeans started adding to the Arabian Nights.

    The Arabian Nights: A Companion by Robert Irwin: A very good read on the history and themes of the Arabian Nights. Even reading the first two chapters gave me a lot of insight into how the collection of stories has evolved over time. I think I get now why the era was originally listed as lasting to the modern day. The fact Irwin communicates this so clearly is pretty cool.

    Necropolis of Hawara

    The Political Situation in Egypt in the Second Intermediate Period by Kim Ryholt: This book seems to pretty much be the definitive text on the Second Intermediate Period during which the bulk of the Necropolis of Hawara era takes place. Most of this book is available on Google Books free to read and the chart on pg 6 is a very useful visual for untangling the complicated geopolitical relationship of the SIP dynasties, most of which were concurrent.

    The Hyksos: A New Investigationby John Van Seters: Ironically, this book is now half a century old, so its title doesn’t exactly apply anymore, but this was one of the first studies of Hyksos dynasties to argue that they may have been present in Egypt prior to taking power rather than being external invaders.

    Amenhotep III: Egypt’s Radiant Pharaoh by Arielle Kozloff: At the other end of the temporal spectrum, we have Amenhotep III, father of Akhenaten. This book is really engaging and interesting, but it is useful for another reason. Amenhotep III was actually born in Crocodilopolis and likely was raised in Hawara’s shadow. As a result, this book goes into detail about the culture of the royal family in the oasis, making it a trove of useful information for this era.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 02-28-2018, 07:18 PM.

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  • Second Chances
    While I should probably be working on other things right now, I stumbled upon two more interesting looking resources that I just had to share. I haven't read either of them yet, but they look worthwhile from the quick skim I did.

    Male-Male Desire in Pharaonic Egypt by Alex Clayden: I'm not part of the LGBTQ community, but I have always found its history to be interesting. It is really nice to find historians who don't erase people who don't fit into a heteronormative worldview because some people are willing to go to ridiculous lengths to pretend that homosexuality, bisexuality, and people who are non-gender binary never existed before modern times. Also, this paper teaches you the hieroglyphics and words to say "how beautiful are thy buttocks!" in Middle/New Kingdom Egyptian, which I think is equal parts awesome and hilarious in an academic work.

    The Arabic Ghoul and its Western Transformation by Ahmed al-Rawi: Given that 1001 Nights is going to be a Vampire era, I would say this is pretty much required reading, especially since it addresses the role of Ghuls in the One Thousand and One Arabian Nights directly.

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  • Second Chances
    Now that the expansion eras have been revealed, I have more resources to add!

    Multiple Eras

    General History of Africa: Once upon a time, UNESCO decided that the world was generally illiterate about Africa History. To combat that, they published a multi-part history series from Prehistory to 1984 (when it was published). This will be useful for Mali and Hawara.

    Empire of Mali

    Empires of Medieval West Africa
    by David Conrad: A good review of the history and cultures of West Africa. There will likely be more detailed histories, but this is an excellent introduction.

    Scandinavian Witch Trials

    Beyond the Witch Trials edited by Owen Davis and Willem de Blecourt: Open access books are awesome, not the least because this book is free and legal! Anyhow, this collection covers witchcraft all over Europe, but there are a couple of papers that focus specifically on Finland and Sweden. They do an excellent job of explaining how witchcraft manifested in these regions, and how it was different than other locations Europe.

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  • Second Chances
    I found something for Golden Age of Sci-Fi!

    The History of Science Fiction by Adam Roberts: Looks pretty interesting. Its a general overview of all of science-fiction's history, but it does focus one of its chapters specifically on the golden age, so it will probably be pretty useful.

    The Time Machines: The Story of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines from the Beginning to 1950 by Mike Ashley: I'm linking to Google Books because this appears to be out of print on Amazon. Anyhow, there is some seriously useful and deep analysis here, if you can get your hands on a copy of it. EDIT: It appears you can still buy this direct from Liverpool University Press in ebook, paperback, or hardbound format.

    I've also dug up some useful books for the backer created era, but I'm waiting for the reveal before I post them.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 10-07-2017, 02:04 PM.

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  • Second Chances
    Dear Magic Eight Ball - Will I ever run out of potential avenues of historical research?

    Signs point to no.


    Silk Roads or Steppe Roads? The Silk Roads in World Historyby David Christian: A history and analysis of cultural and economic exchange in Afro-Eurasia and how they expanded over time. Very useful.

    1001 Nights

    Avicenna and the Canon of Medicine: A Millenial Tribute by Richard Dean Smith: A quick biographical sketch of arguably the greatest philosopher, scientist, and medical practitioner of the Islamic Golden Age.

    Cyclical Time & Ismaili Gnosis by Henry Corbin: A series of lectures on how Ismaili Shi'ism views both time and knowledge. Even though I only have the barest understanding of how it works and have only skimmed this book, it is widely referenced, and Corbin is one of the leading early academics on Ismaili studies. Would be very useful if, say, someone with an expansion tier were to add Mage to this era...

    Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong: This is actually too broad of an overview for my personal tastes, but that's because I've very familiar with the subject matter and enjoy focusing in on details of how different states work and how culture evolves. This is a good read and an excellent starting place for anyone unfamiliar with the history of Islam.

    Postal Systems in the Pre-Modern Islamic World by Adam J Silverstein: Hear me out. Communications are massively important in this time period and while it is unlikely that the Dark Era proper will go into detail as to how those communications systems work, the way that they impact the transmissions of stories across the Islamic world could be very important. This is a solid read and is much more interesting than it may appear at first glance. It's also the crux of one of my published papers, although that was on the Ilkhanate and is just barely outside of the scope of this timeframe.

    Voices of Islam edited by Vincent J Cornell: A 5-part collection of essays that give an in-depth perspective on the various aspects of Islam and how the implications of the faith play out in everyday life. Highly Recommended.

    Last edited by Second Chances; 08-12-2017, 03:54 PM.

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  • grimjaws
    Originally posted by Uxas View Post
    Too bad it falls outside of the timeline for the Sundered World setting.

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  • Uxas
    We need a Dark Era about this:

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  • Second Chances
    And to no one's surprise, I have more to add.

    1001 Nights

    The Early Hanafiyya and Kufa by Christopher Melchert: One of my pet peeves as a teacher with a background in Islamic History is when people talk about a monolithic "Sharia." Islamic law is diverse and complex, with various different Sunni and Shi'ite schools emerging in the Islamic Golden Age. This journal gives an overview of the formation of the Hanifi school of law, dwelling on its relations to the city of Kufa (definitely a place to be included in the era). This is primarily in contrast to the emergence of the Maliki school from Medina. More research into the legal schools of the Golden Age would be highly advised, it was a major aspect of this time period and has lots of fodder for both Vampires and Beasts.

    Ismailis in Azerbaijan by Seyyed Masoud Shahmoradi, et al: Azerbaijan is criminally underused in fiction, so it would be awesome to see it feature in this era. This specific article traces the history of the Ismailis in the region all the way to the time of the Ilkhanids. It is also written by a trio of Iranian scholars from Isfahan University, so it adds some diversity to your sources.

    Qing China

    From Alliance to Tutelage: A Historical Analysis of Manchu-Mongol Relations before the Qing Conquest by Nicola di Cosmo: Mongols make everything better unless you have to fight them. This paper examines the relations between the people who would be the Qing and the Mongols. While technically it falls before the era actually begins, it does make for a useful bit of backstory and it examines what would eventually become the Qing frontier.

    Visual Representations of the Body in Chinese Medical and Daoist Texts from the Song to the Qing Periods by Catherine Despeux: There should be some neat ideas in here to mine for the way that the Arisen contextualize Sekhem and their Descents in a Chinese setting. Daoist Hunter would also be awesome.

    Zhan Kai and Five "Novels of Women's Liberation" of the Late Qing by Ellen Widmer: Gender studies are always useful and this may give some insight into how perceptions of women were changing by the late Qing period. I'm not sure how Zhan Kai fits in with the greater cultural picture of the Qing, since I know very little about Chinese history, so cross-referencing this one with other sources to get a broader picture is probably a good idea.

    Light of the Sun

    The Science of Shakespeare by Dan Falk: An interesting look at the state of popular science at the end of the 1500s and the beginning of the 1600s. It specifically looks at Shakespeare's work, considering how he related to the Scientific Revolution, as well as why he as able to include so many scientific references within his plays.

    Golden Age of Science Fiction

    Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion by Janet Reitman: Scientology on proper is a bit late on the scene to be included in the Golden Age of Sci-Fi, but its founder L. Ron Hubbard is right in the thick of the Science Fiction boom at John Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction magazine, despite not having the same scientific credentials as Campbell's other writers. He was also fascinated by the occult and introduced other writers to it. Reitman's treatment gives some good insight into LRH's life, the way he looked at the world, and how he and his peers carried themselves. This is an excellent place to start for a fair treatment of Hubbard and Scientology on the whole. Reitman is honest and had access to both members and ex-members of the Church of Scientology, yet she neither is a part of the church nor has an axe to grind. The account is not exactly flattering... but it also is making an effort to just present the facts of history rather than tar and feather the Church.
    Last edited by Second Chances; 08-06-2017, 01:13 PM.

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  • Starglyte
    Golden Age of Piracy
    The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down

    One of my more favorite pirate books, it details what was going on in the Bahamas during the Golden Age.

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  • Arcanist
    Second Chances glad that you're liking the book! Hopefully people enjoy the other things on the list too.

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  • Second Chances
    I actually just startered reading Halsall's book based of the recommendation Arcanist . He is delightlyfuly sarcastic and smarmy in Chapter 1. I love it.

    In other news, the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Stuides Journal is Open Access and you can read all of their issues back to 1958. There's a lot of neat articles I've read already and while I haven't stumbled on anything useful for DE2 yet, I'm sure there will be something there.

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  • Second Chances
    The Directory of Open Access Journals may also be useful.

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  • Arcanist
    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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