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What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  139 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A Fantasy Lover's Food Guide

Equal parts writer’s guide, comedy, and historical cookbook, fantasy author Krista D. Ball takes readers on a journey into the depths of epic fantasy’s obsession with rabbit stew and teaches them how to catch the blasted creatures, how to move armies across enemy territories without anyone starving to death, and what a medieval pantry should loo
ebook, 198 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Tyche Books Ltd. (first published October 31st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 716)
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Christine Frost
This book saved my bacon. Seriously. I write historical fiction, and my second novel was set in the late medieval era. Since I love to cook, I do a lot of research on the history of cooking, so I had several of the books listed in the bibliography. However, Krista Ball did such a fantastic job of describing a range of issues about food on fantasy and historical fiction that I saw some aspects of this topic in an entirely new light. Just before my novel was published, I made several important cha ...more
K.M. Weiland
When I start in on a relatively dry historical subject like food, I don't generally expect to get much more out of the reading experience than the facts. I definitely don't expect to be entertained (or, if I am entertained, I don't expect the facts to be overflowing). So this book is a jolly fun surprise. It never claims to be anything approaching a definitive guide, but it's absolutely overflowing with interesting tidbits and common pitfalls to avoid. I enjoyed every bit of it and came away wit ...more
Shari Larsen
This book was written as a writer's guide for those that write fantasy or historical fiction, but it's also an interesting read for foodies, and people like myself, who enjoy historical fiction. It covers the general history of food, with an overview of the politics a logistics of food (such as feeding an army), food preservation, and what types of foods would be available in various time periods and climates.

The prose is easy to read, well-researched, and also humorous. There are even a few rec
Katherine Coble
This is meant to be a guide for Fantasy writers that improves the versimillitude of their stories by describing food acquisition, composition and storage throughout history. Since I am an unapologetic foodie and an unashamed history buff the History of Food has always been one of my quirky passions. The History of Food is very much the history of humanity as well and I adore reading about it, pondering it and discussing it. My favourite Epic Fantasy novels–The Song Of Ice And Fire series by Geor ...more
What can I say? I love this book. I wish there was a six star rating for it. Informative, fascinating, funny, what more can one ask from a history guide? But it's not just that. It's also a writer's guide, and as a fantasy writer, I can't tell you how much this book is helping me create a realistic backdrop for my epic fantasy and my steampunk stories. From how to pickle eggs, to what one could find in a medieval market, what a rich man's table looked like and what a poor man would do to feed hi ...more
Very helpful

I am so amazed I haven't read this earlier. While I was reading I felt as if I learned something new on each page and could almost feel myself growing smarter. I had started more than one conversation in the past week with," Did you know..." let's just say most of my family has learned to leave the room when I start that way or when I interrupt a conversation with, "Actually, I just read..."
As an aspiring writer I've come across multiple instances where I've contracted writers block
I really enjoyed reading this book - it was not what I had expected!

This is not a story - it is a reference work for authors. In places it could even claim to be a serious academic work - except that such works are generally very dry, and this has humour!

First: The purpose of the book. The author describes it as 'A writers Guide'. I suspect that the author has become annoyed (maybe very annoyed) on more than one occasion, by simple errors made by historical fantasy authors. She even quotes an ex
Josh VanBrakle
If you write fantasy or historical fiction, listen up. You need to read this book. Period. Krista Ball has gathered in one easy-to-read work detailed information about a variety of medieval foods and topics related to them. Whether you want to hold a feast, keep your hero fed while he runs from the corrupt town guards, or stop your troops from deserting while you march them through enemy territory, Ball has the information you need.

My one tiny complaint is that her book largely focuses on Europe
This book has been highly eye opening and informative. It lets you know the logistics to feeding a marching army in the Middle Ages, how likely it would be that a person fleeing with little preparation would have an easy time finding food on the run and have time to prepare it, how difficult it would be to find a lamb for sell in the winter... really just things you kinda skim over in reading historical fiction as well as fantasy novel until someone like Ms. Ball takes the time to point them out ...more
One of the most difficult things for me when writing it figuring out what my characters should be eating, drinking, and carrying with them. I am constantly scrambling to track down which berries, fruits, vegetables, etc., are available in a particular season. This book is the solution I wish I had found when I first began incorporating specific details about meals and traveling into my stories. Whether writing a medieval-esque sweeping fantasy or a Victorian mystery, Ball provides enough hints, ...more
Melissa Hayden
Like sitting and talking with a friend on Foods and Drinks in different times and the affects on people and needs.

Amazing to bring thoughts to mind for story ideas and culture around what I've created. I would suggest this for anyone wanting to learn a bit about foods in historical times and writers of fantasy.

An insider look to foods and drinks in fantasy worlds to help make the story feel more authentic to the time. The types of food available can also help draw a darker or
Merc Rustad
This is an absolutely charming reference book and food guide! It covers everything from the general history of food, an overview of the politics and logistics of food (and feeding an army), food preservation, what types of food would be available in various time periods and climates, AND actual recipes for making some of these historic dishes yourself.

The prose is easy to read, accessible, and funny. (Also well-researched, and complete with end notes and citations.) There are plenty of wonderful
...What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank is a humours book and not a very heavy read but it touches upon the very basics of our survival. As such it points out a lot of very important matters to us if you are prepared to read between the lines. You could read it as a writing guide or a humorous reflection on the Fantasy genre. It is both of these things, but I thought there was even more to it if you project what this book has to teach on our current food situation. Looking at it in this light, What ...more
Christopher Hoare
What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank

Part wilderness survival guide, part ramble through history, part essential list of how to feed characters on quests and part good fun. While fantasy authors will find the information invaluable, and readers of fantasy will have a better idea of the difficulties the characters face, even the casual reader will enjoy the wit.

Many fantasy novels have the characters having food almost drop into their arms...and always an inn to shelter in when the weather turns nasty
Lee Dunning
Very entertaining, energetic read. Ms. Ball is quite passionate about her chosen subject, even going to the lengths of trying to recreate some of the items she writes about (with varying degrees of success - some of which have quite humorous "calamities" associated with them). A lot of material is presented. A LOT. This is not a book you read and then put away never to look at again. If you want to get it right when working on your story, you're going to have to pull this book out and use it as ...more
A light hearted look at historic cuisine, aimed at authors of fantasy and historical fiction. It's a quick read, funny, and informative. It also has a good bibliography. There are a few recipes, but less than you'd expect from the title.
Roan Davidson
This overview of the problems and logistics of finding, raising, growing and transporting food throughout history makes for an entertaining and informative read. It can't cover everything a writer might need to know about a given place and time period, but it's the perfect place to start.
Jenny Schwartz
I need to write a longer review - but so busy and tired and it's Friday. So a quick note: If you're thinking of reading this book, do! It's well researched, amusingly written and draws on practical experience.
Daniel Swensen
Fun, informative, packed with lots of detail. A highly valuable resource for any fantasy writer, and a really fun read besides. Literally my only complaint is that every time the author mentions potatoes or carbohydrates, she must point out that they are "much reviled" by contemporary diet and fashion magazines. I didn't buy the book to find out what diet and fashion magazines think of potatoes. Other than that, fantastic read and well worth your time.
Sabrina Flynn
A great reference book for any fantasy writer, or even if you just love fantasy books. An entertaining and informative read.
Really enjoyed this, especially the inclusion of historical recipes. Many fascinating tidbits that are of interest to genre readers as well as those who write.
Really enjoyed the first few chapters, but then it started to get quite repetitive and a bit like rambling. It became harder to read as the same points were repeated over and over again. Editing seemed non-existent, including repetitions of entire sentences and paragraphs. Overall, the information was quite interesting and useful. I could also tell it was very well researched by the author. I am looking forward to reading Hustlers, Harlots, and Heroes, I hope that it is better edited.
This bok was really intended to be a background reference for fantasy and historical fiction authors (and possibly RPG Gamers) on the historical realities of food production and consumption, something glossed over quite a bit in most fantasy, at least. I found it thoroughly enjoyable, and potentially useful to me as a fantasy author.
Amy Laurens
Ms Ball has outdone herself with this fantastically entertaining history of food, designed for writers and readers of fantasy alike. Filled with useful tidbits, real-life recipes, and amusing personal anecdotes, this book is one I will read and reread - definitely one to have handy for a quick consultation when writing.
Stuart Whitmore
My main review is on Amazon, but in brief, I will say that this was a fun and informative read. I shared many tidbits with my family, and I'll be able to use the information (and overall food-awareness) I've gained from it to improve my works-in-progress.
This had a bunch of editing issues: improper spelling, repeated phrases, repeated information, etc. It didn't feel as in-depth as I'd hoped it would be, but as a collection of information and questioning prompts for writers, it succeeds in its purpose.
review to come

the author gifted me with the epub and PDF versions; I had the PDF converted for my kindle. I have pre-ordered the signed, print version.

Merged review:

review to come
E.M. Sutherlin
Good info

I love reading about writing, and since I'm working on a fictional story in this genre, it's been super helpful!
Sean Sandulak
A little rough around the edges, but an interesting read for writers and readers of historical and fantasy fiction.
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