Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Review: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank

I picked up What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank: A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide by Krista D. Ball after seeing it mentioned on David Gaughran's inestimable writing blog, Let's Get Visible.  I respect David's opinion regarding anything to do with writing, and it seemed like a perfect research material for a fantasy writer, so I snapped it up.
I was not disappointed.  What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank is an invaluable research guide for any writer of fantasy or historical fiction, and also to Gamemasters of fantasy RPGs.  It is more than just history of food and list of foods that people ate.  What Kings Ate is a writer's guide, showing how and why things were done the way they were, and why people ate what they did, and when.  It describes how to incorporate these little tidbits of knowledge into a story without drowning a reader in detail, and how to do it intelligently.  More than that, it includes lots of "story hooks" that any gamemaster or fantasy writer should recognize.  These story hooks can serve to inspire a writer or gamemaster to create a plausible adventure scene in their story or game based on--you guessed it--food. 

What Kings Ate is told in a light-heated, humorous style that is never boring.  I'm not much of a cook (nor a farmer) myself, so when I've included food in my fantasy novels I've tried to be careful and somewhat generic--but this book provides what you need to know to get things right and add that flavorful bit of verisimilitude that can bring it to life.  This book is a must have for any fantasy writer, and I know that whenever I need to include anything food related in my stories, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank will be my first stop.

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