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Greg Stafford had a lot of tools in his mythic designs, some of which we kind of overlook.

Nowhere have I seen a list of recommended books beyond the standard product list for inspirational Gloranthan books or art that can help folks along. I'm certain that there is something out there, but I can't remember it specifically, and given my hobby as a historian I pay attention to bibliographies.

Having said that, let me offer a couple or three books that might just be useful or helpful.

The first two are historical novels that I have found to be well researched and well thought out. While neither have magical elements, both show the magic of belief [beliefs in fate or luck, for example] and both show politics extremely well.

The first is 'Lion of Ireland' by Moran Llewellyn. This describes the life of Brian Boru and his role in repelling the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. While this is historically rather late for Gloranthan material, the book does a great job in portraying a clan based culture under a great deal of pressure from outside forces along with the political infighting endemic in Irish politics in an early medieval context.

The second is 'First Man In Rome' by Margaret McCullough. This book is a thick tome that is almost an education on Republican Rome in and of itself. Even the glossary in the back [which takes up almost a third of the book] is of use. I use this as inspiration for the infighting and bloodthirsty nature of Lunar society and Dara Happan culture.

 

1. Lion of Ireland

Llewellyn, Morgan

1980, Houghton-Mifflin

2. First Man in Rome

McCullough, Maureen

1990, William Morrow

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You have:
. Appendix E: Bibliography in HeroQuest Glorantha.
. Appendix N: Bibliography in RuneQuest 2 (Classic)
Most are included in Jeff's Gloranthan Readings:
https://www.glorantha.com/readings/

In fiction, I would also suggest, among others:
. Gene Wolfe - Book of the New Sun series
. Gene Wolfe - Soldier of ... series
. Harry Turtledove - Gerin the Fox series
. Jessica Salmonson - Tomoe Gozen series
. Robert Holdstock - Mythago Wood series

In non fiction:
. Diane Wolkstein - Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer
. Unknown - The Mabinogion

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10 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Huge shout out to JAS. Friend Of Greg.

One fiction title that doesn't come up much is Richard Adams' Shardik. Apparently made a big impression.

Man, I loved the Tomoe Gozen series. I'd also add Delany's Tales of Neveryon. 

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Well, I'm glad to see that I was wrong about there not being inspirational literature out there.

In more sci-fi selections, let me add a couple that might have been overlooked by many of you...

Equally as old and arguably as deep as Glorantha is Prof. MAR Barker's Tekumel. This milieu is wonderful for one very key reason: There are almost no touchstones to Western mythologies in it. No Celts or Saxons or Vikings. No Thors or Fionn McChools. No Charlemagnes, no Barbarossas, no Caesars or Versingetorixii. Tekumel's history revolves around the idea that Western civilization burned itself out before Mankind reached the stars, that some kind of major celestial disaster happened, and that 10000 years later, on a metals poor world, the cultural descendants of Amazonia and the Ganges are into their fourth or fifth civilization.

This setting is useful for seeing how slavery fits into an old and sophisticated civilization, how nobles [and those who want to become nobles] strive for honor and glory, and difficulties and price that high status can bring someone.

It makes for some fascinating reading. Here are the two most commonly available novels:

1. Man of Gold

Barker, MAR

1984, DAW

1. Flamesong

Barker, MAR

1985, DAW

 

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54 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Folk of the Air. Peter S Beagle
Set in 20th century San Francisco. Its heros are members of something quite similar to the SCA, the characters could easily be found here posting on BRP central. Great read!

His other book is one you might have heard of; The Last Unicorn!

You know, I read 'Folk' twice, once while I was in the SCA and once after I had quit.

Both times I found it to be somewhat off-putting for my tastes. I chalk it up to the writer's style and leave it at that. But then, I'm also the guy who didn't like SM Stirling's Change novels... the idea that reenactors would survive better than other people after some kind of apocalypse is ridiculous on its face if you know anything at all about us. We'd all be just as buggered up anyone else after the Tylenol and coffee ran out :)

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41 minutes ago, svensson said:

Both times I found it to be somewhat off-putting for my tastes. I chalk it up to the writer's style and leave it at that. But then, I'm also the guy who didn't like SM Stirling's Change novels...:)

Totally okay, many hated the Last Unicorn and some thought it one of the greatest fantasies written;

Your Real World Will Vary

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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47 minutes ago, svensson said:

the idea that reenactors would survive better than other people after some kind of apocalypse is ridiculous on its face if you know anything at all about us. We'd all be just as buggered up anyone else after the Tylenol and coffee ran out

I would hate to have people's opinion of The People of the Air coloured by this description. It has little to do with the book except how reenactors would be buggered after the sh#t went down.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
clarity
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13 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

I can see that, it seemed to be quite shamanistic,

There's a fanzine review he did around the era when WBRM was germinating that demonstrates his admittedly conflicted engagement with its totemic symbolism. Somebody remind me if I don't track it down when the world slows a little.

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I found Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising sequence to be particularly inspiring.  The Lost Land section of the final volume Silver on the Tree is a particularly good quest example, but the Dark is Rising and Greenwitch are also rich in ideas for a village under siege and ritual practices.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere has some good scenes for Underworld related quests; Stardust is a whole quest; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane has a great example of things that can come back from a quest to the other side.

 

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

I eventually read it, but his first novel really made a barrier to his others.

Shardik was a very intense book, but a lot that can be drawn upon there.  It's sequel Maia, if I recall correctly, also had a lot of relevant imagery.

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7 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere has some good scenes for Underworld related quests; Stardust is a whole quest; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane has a great example of things that can come back from a quest to the other side.

 

Absolutely anything by Gaiman, especially Sandman's first 8 or so issues! Though Gaiman usually does not write anything that would resemble sword and sandal fantasy (See his Sandman/Orpheus arc that makes a liar of me) most of his books could easily exist in the realms of Hero Quests.

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25 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Absolutely anything by Gaiman, especially Sandman's first 8 or so issues!

The quests through Hell and the dream world in Sandman are great sources to mine for ideas (and wonderful imagery of demons!).

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One book I found quite instructive is The Way of Wyrd by Brian Bates, telling the story of a monk's introduction into the quite shamanic ways of a pagan magician.

 

For a historical fantasy, I enjoyed Poul Anderson's King of Ys series - four books on a fictional Phoenician city in Late Roman Aremorica (actually using Martin of Tours as one of the protagonists), about a Mithraic Roman prefect in the service of Magnus Maximus, based on the Bretonic myths about the drowned city. I found it influencing my views of the Holy Country.

 

2 hours ago, David Scott said:
6 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Richard Adams' Shardik

I eventually read it, but his first novel really made a barrier to his others.

Greg wrote a huge endorsement for the mythic aspects of Watership Down.

The fact that the protagonists aren't human makes this quite good preparatory reading for anyone wishing to play non-human species. The social moles of the Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood are another example of "furry" spirit quests, biologically implausible, but possibly quite Hsunchen.

1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Shardik was a very intense book, but a lot that can be drawn upon there.  It's sequel Maia, if I recall correctly, also had a lot of relevant imagery.

Chronologically, Maia is a prequel to the events in Shardik.

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For non-fiction sources I would heartily recommend some anthropological classics (don't overly worry about some of the outdated terminology or theory, the empiricism is still sound):

 

- Turnbull, "Forest People", about the Mbuti Pygmies in Belgian Congo. The ethnographer lived with them, and provides an rich look into a band-based hunter-gatherer culture entering into a specific niche in relation to a more dominant agricultural neighbor, including the ways the Mbuti rationalize their own way of life as superior. It reads very much like a treatise on a Hsunchen people who live next to Orlanthi or Doraddi or something.

- Malinowski, "The Argonauts of the Western Pacific". This is the granddaddy of long-term deliberate fieldwork, the coiner of the phrase "participant observation" and whole slew of other things. It's a monograph on the Melanesian Trobriander people living on islands off Papua New Guinea during WW1. As a matrilineal and patriarchal horticulture society, they have a good deal in common with the Doraddi, and possibly some Pelorian cultures. East Islanders possibly also, with their complex system of reciprocal gift-giving which increases the prestige of a gift the farther it has traveled, prompting ambitious men to travel as far as possible to gain distant friends. Also a lot about yams. So much yams. Yams is basically to these people what cows are to the Orlanthi.

- Barth, "Ecological Relations among Ethnic Groups in the Swat Valley, North Pakistan" (off the top of my head). The Pathans, more commonly known as the Pashtuns are cattle herders and agriculturalists with tightly-knit clans and a tendency to wager long-lasting feuds, while entering into patron-client relations with member of other ethnic groups in the area that exploit other ecological niches (such as the transhumance mountain herder people who I've forgotten the name of). Basically, these guys aren't too far off from Orlanthi, if not in material culture, then in a general outlook. Worth a read, not too long.
https://www.uio.no/studier/emner/sv/sai/SOSANT1600/v12/Barth_Ecologic_relationships.pdf

I've got more, but obviously a lot of this is significantly drier and less adventurous (with some exceptions) than fantasy or historical fiction. They provide some insights for Game Masters and hobbyists though, I wager.

 

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I recommend Tekumel too, and Tomoe Gozen. 

I have found myself returning to Philip Jose Farmer's somewhat obscure pair Hadon of Ancient Opar and Flight to Opar. Straightforward adventure books, but the primitive Khokarsan empire at the dawn of man is exceedingly well drawn and will provide some inspiration. It was originally intended to be a longer series, and there have been a couple of follow-ons written later by others (I was less fond of those). I thought those two books worked well enough alone. 

For Heroquesting with a British flavour, I'd recommend a look at Robert Holdstock's Mythago Wood. It spawned a longer series of books, but at the time I thought the first one was the best. 

 

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13 hours ago, Bill the barbarian said:

I would hate to have people's opinion of The People of the Air coloured by this description. It has little to do with the book except how reenactors would be buggered after the sh#t went down.

Hey, it's just my opinion, Bill. Your mileage will no doubt vary. And I said it might have been a matter of writing style. Beagle is just an author that doesn't appeal to me very much.

I'm very picky about what I recommend because I'm a little embarrassed about some of the crap I read as a kid that I thought was just the cat's ass back then. Just two examples; 'Mack Bolan' and 'Gor' novels, ok? 😣 Let's just say I've become more discerning since... But you have to read a fair amount of stuff you don't like in order to decide what you do like and why your opinion is the way it is.

I'd still recommend avoiding Mack Bolan and Gor though... hehe

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6 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've got more, but obviously a lot of this is significantly drier and less adventurous (with some exceptions) than fantasy or historical fiction. They provide some insights for Game Masters and hobbyists though, I wager.

 

We may need to split this topic into Fact and Fiction categories. I can't imagine a Gloranthan campaign that couldn't gain something from David McCaulay's Pyramid, as just one example. Or Nick Hunter's Daily Life in Ancient Sumer.

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+1 for Poul & Karen Anderson's King of Ys series.

French readers can also look at Bellovese celt king story : Rois du Monde  by Jean-Philippe Jaworski (5 tomes for now).

In march, we also got in France the translation of Donald Quest comic, but I guess it should be on the bottom of your reading list!

DonalQuest.jpg

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