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The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

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3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  1,401 ratings  ·  237 reviews
Hegel and Manfried Grossbart may not consider themselves bad men - but death still stalks them through the dark woods of medieval Europe.

The year is 1364, and the brothers Grossbart have embarked on a naïve quest for fortune. Descended from a long line of graverobbers, they are determined to follow their family's footsteps to the fabled crypts of Gyptland. To get there, t
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Paperback, 453 pages
Published November 16th 2009 by Orbit (first published October 27th 2009)
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Community Reviews

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Melki
Jan 20, 2015 Melki rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melki by: Lea
Shelves: adventure, disturbing
In this, one of the Grimmest of fairy tales, two brothers who are ugly on both sides of their skin, embark on an astonishingly violent journey of epic proportions. Our bearded antiheroes have a rip-roaring time running from the law and mixing it up with assorted demons. They garner some powerful enemies along the way, including a vengeful victim, a witch who curses them - "...your undoing will become legend", and the creepiest twins ever birthed. The conversations between the superstitious broth ...more
Jonfaith
Imagine Supernatural being recast in the 14th Century. Still there? Okay, instead of the brothers being buff and pondering their sexuality over slowly nursed beer, imagine the siblings as being bearded grave-robbers who also fight the paranormal. Was that a pitch or what? There were aspects of this book I found interesting, the long folksy conversations about theology were not bad. The problem was everything else.

I bought this novel last week in Indianapolis. There is something palpably hanting
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Sarah
It should be made very clear that if you are offended by anything, at all, ever, you should probably give The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart a wide berth (and avoid eye contact) as you pass it in a dimly lit bookstore aisle. That said, under the detailed cover is a dark and darkly humorous story with a high body count and complete lack of tact. Amusing? Immensely. Imaginative? Absolutely so. Fun for the whole family? Not on your life. This book will appeal to a fringe group of readers: those ...more
Jason
First Impressions:
My initial response to the first 30 pages or so of this book was to NOT LIKE IT AT ALL.
I began to think I was reading a medieval version of 'Natural Born Killers', a film that I loathed more than I feel motivated to elaborate upon.
This was an extremely disappointing realization, as I was looking forward to reading this book with enormous anticipation.
It all came about when I saw a copy of it in Barnes & Noble a few months back and was very intrigued by the jacket design,
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Mark Wiliamson
This book is an absolute corker.

It follows the misguided and bloody exploits of the Brothers Grossbart as they make their way across medieval Europe to Egypt in search of their grandfathers legacy.

The brothers are guided by an utterly warped theology that venerates the Virgin Mary and sees amongst other things Jesus as some sort of indignity forced upon her. The finer points of this theology (does rape take away virginity for example) often bring the brothers to blows but make for some very fun
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Chris
Ugh. "The Monotonous Road" isn't just a chapter heading, but could be a blurb for the book.

I give up. Now it's becoming buried in religion. It was boring before it became a religious study.
Jason
4.5 Stars and maybe 5 stars if you take into consideration that Bullington deserves kudos for not holding anything back. This a very dark, violent, and often funny fairytale. I was hooked right from the beginning and found it difficult to put down through the first two thirds of the book. As the story progresses towards its' end, the last third, things kind of spiral out of control. The story suffers some pacing problem here and I felt that it might have been a tad drawn out. I loved how sheer l ...more
Leif
Well, saying I "liked it" should be qualified. The discerning reader will note that there is a small asterisked warning on the back of the book, near the bottom. I quote: *Contains strong language and scenes of graphic violence*

Yes. Yes it does. Parents, lock up your children.

Children, hide under your beds.

The Grossbarts are coming.

But really, drama aside, Bullington does a great job of uniting setting with discourse, which is to say, he makes a point to reintroduce the body into the narrative.
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Mihai
Perhaps conceived as a medieval version of "Natural Born Killers", this novel--just like the movie--starts strong, peaks after its first 10 chapters, and then fizzles.

I have no problems with suspending my belief, seeing as this is, after all, a fantasy book. Throw witches, demons, horrors, etc. at me all you want. I expect it in this types of novels. I have a time hard believing though that someone could be simultaneously illiterate and erudite (i.e. the Bros. Grossbart). Therefore, by the last
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Lisa
This one has the dubious distinction of being one of only two books I haven't been able to bring myself to finish. I'm giving up a quarter of the way through, too grossed out to continue any further. I think it may have been the old witch's 'womb-juice' that broke the camel's back.
Adam
The Brothers Grossbart is a creation that resembles the fruit of the effort of collaboration between Tarantino, Brothers Grimm, Hieronymus Bosch, Cormac McCarthy Evil Dead era Sam Raimi, Angela Carter, Edward Gorey and Barbara Tuchman. Fairy Tale, gritty medieval tale, splatterpunk, creepy horror (there are some very scary moments), gross out humor, and real life disasters (Black Death, Jewish Pogroms, and the pillage of Alexandria), carnivalesque bizarreness coalesce in a book quite unlike much ...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

I was rather excited about The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart coming out on audio. It’s excellently written and the audiobook is excellently performed by Christopher Lane who was given ample opportunities to show off his skills.

But the only parts of The Sad Tale I liked were those in which no action occurred — when the brothers were sitting around arguing with each other about philosophical topics such as Christianity (e.g., is it cannibalism to take c
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Reed
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart was a revelation to me, an honest to goodness different take on the historical fantasy novel. It's a tale filled with morality, yet the two protagonists are completely amoral. It's filled to the rim with the darkness of medieval Europe--plague, poverty, dark creatures of the woods, religious intolerance, and the bleak cruelty of life in that time.

Through this wonderfully depicted world stumble the Grossbart brothers, Hegel and Manfried. Foul, crude, violent
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Justin
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart follows the twin brothers Hegel and Manfried Grossbart. They live in a world full of demons and disease. The woods are full of spirits, and dark magic lurks in the shadowy places where men dare not go. Fortunately for the brothers, they are just as bad as or worse than any of the lot which lurks about the darkness of this world. They murder, steal, and generally wreak havoc wherever they go. Their sad tale is a tale of treachery, violence, stupidity, and a ...more
Christina
Apr 06, 2010 Christina added it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Christina by: Android's Dream
In the first chapter of this dark fairy tale, the Grossbart brothers kill a man's family in retaliation for the man beating them with a shovel when they were younger. (He beat them with the shovel because they stole from his garden, and that was considered perfectly valid discipline in the Middle Ages.)

Then, in the second chapter, when the townspeople are pursuing the brothers so they can punish him for the murder, the brothers kill several dogs in very vicious horrible ways.

I didn't read any fu
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Lea
Let me be as clear as possible -- THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!!

It is crude, violent, vulgar, and completely revolting in many (many, many) parts. There is murder (including the murder of children) from virtually the first page, animal abuse, blasphemy, and really disgusting sexual acts. These are not good guys.

But, somehow, the author makes you care about what happens to them.

Whether that's a good thing or a bad thing . . . I'm not sure, but as awful as the Grossbarts are, I really wanted them
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Kat
I admire Jesse Bullington's success in writing a compelling and readable book centred around a pair of utterly unpleasant and irredeemable villain-protagonists. There's no moral message and no goodness to balance the grotesque. I can't think of anyone I really sympathised with or cared about in this book. And yet I really didn't need to to be persuaded to keep reading. The historical world-building and dark humour, the adult-fairytale and use of language were great.
The book does fail to keep up
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Roxane
Some books you just can't resist even though you know most literary critics would call their quality into question. Others, you can't help but admire the originality and what it brings to a specific genre, even though you can't quite bring yourself to claim that you like it. Such was my experience reading The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart.

It's got the humor and cynicism of a Pratchett novel, mixed with the grotesque of a medieval quest for the Holy Grail. It's insane and yet, manages to ma
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Thomas McBryde
If Grimm Brothers had a bad opium trip out would have come The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart. This book holds nothing back and is certainly not for the faint of heart or those easily offended. However with that said, what the reader does have to look forward to is the strange and violent adventure of two veteran grave robbers as they travel across lands and ocean to find their fabled Gyptland, a place of bountiful tombs filled with untold treasures...or at least that's what their grandfathe ...more
colleen the fabulous fabulaphile
While I will leave this book on my Nook with the possibility that I might return to it - I really, really doubt I will, so I'm marking it quits.

It's not the gore or violence or profanity or overweening hypocrisy (which I'm thinking might be a sort of satire) or anything in particular aside from that fact that I'm bored.

So very, very bored...

And there's nothing to root for or reason to continue trudging forward except for the possibility of a (view spoiler)
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Blind_guardian
The Brothers Grossbart is a truly horrible book. Not because it's poorly written, but because the title characters are truly horrible, disgusting people. The narrator doesn't try to gloss over how terrible the Brothers Grossbart are; ugly, ignorant and evil through and through. They maintain an odd piety towards the Virgin Mary, despite having nothing but disgust for her 'weak' son and his followers. They ride through the story on a bloody horse, leaving a mountain of corpses in their wake. Stil ...more
Encryptic
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cari
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is gory, violent, and filled with more than enough profanity to give my grandmothers simultaneous heart attacks. The very first page is a snippet of conversation analyzing the word “fuck” and it only gets better from there—or worse, depending on your prospective. Irreverent, offensive, and downright disgusting in parts, this book certainly isn’t for everyone.

I, on the other hand, loved it. Any book that has a warning on the cover--contains strong language a
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Kristian Olesen
The first point to be made about "The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart" is that, contrary to what a lot of reviews on this site are saying, it wasn't a hugely offensive book. Yes, there is gore and there are sweary bits, but it's pretty tame compared to what I think Jesse Bullington is probbaly capable of. I got the sense that he was holding back.

I wouldn't recommend this book to my Grandma, but that's more because it isn't the greatest book every written than because I think she'd have to go
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Melissa Hayden
I have to start off with saying I do love the cover of this book. I thought it was cool being two pictures in one here.

The writing was a little hard for me to get ahold of at the beginning of the book, but not long into the book I adjusted well. There are different point of views given in the book, but they are not separated out in the reading. In reading along I would come to a paragraph which in the first sentence changed views quickly, but the nice thing was in that first sentence of change i
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Hazel
I stumbled across this whilst looking for something light in the library. I liked the cover art, which simulates a medieval woodcut and I think it may be the best realised part of the book. I was very encouraged by the preface, which promised literary and historical allusions of the medieval period. I was reminded of the Brothers Grimm (BG!), and I imagine their folktales dated from this period.

Unfortunately the body of the book hasn't lived up to this promise. It feels like an unrelieved, unrel
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Kaila
Apr 28, 2013 Kaila marked it as abandoned
You know, what's really amazing is how I made it through the gratuitous violence, the blasphemous conversations that were obviously trying to be funny (I'm atheist and even *I* was offended), the continued idiocy of these two brothers - but it was the disgusting sex where an old lady's vagina is described as sweetly chevre smelling that did me in.

Thoroughly disgusting. Do not read. Unless you like that kind of thing. In which case, you should still probably be somewhere by yourself because your
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 TheGriffinReads
If MONTY PYTHON'S THE SEARCH FOR THE HOLY GRAIL exemplifies authentic demeanors and behaviors of Arthurian Europe (which I say it does), then ...GROSSBART does the same for the specifically 1300's.

The despicable protagonists get their comeuppance after a black humor trail of adventures.

Not for the soft stomach or tender ear; frequent mists of blood and gouts of pus, and free use of f---, c---, and others elevates the possibility of controversy; other than that, this novel seems almost young adu
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Kateri
12 disk set, I only listened to half - the first 5 and the last because I Had to see how they would end up after all of that. Might have been better as a physical book rather than an audio book, because I could then skim through the repetitive gore.
It didn't offend me; it just got tedious. Okay, here's another life threatening situation, I know they'll impossibly beat the evil demon, witch, etc - and the scene would go on and on and on - I guess it takes a lot of words to describe gore.
I have t
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Chris
This is unquestionably the most disgusting, violent and profane book I have ever read but that is counterbalanced by its ridiculous nature. It is difficult to be offended in any meaningful way by something so fundamentally silly.

Manfried and Hegel Grossbart are two peasant brothers journeying through the landscapes of medieval Europe seeking their fortune in the treasure filled tombs of Egypt. On their travels they encounter witches, demons, monsters, bandits and mercenaries all of which are int
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2917750
Author. Dream Weaver. Visionary. Plus Actor. So long as you're cool with discovering just how dull I really am, I welcome adds here, on FB, LJ etc.

My novels The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart and The Enterprise of Death are available in a variety of languages. I have it on admittedly shaky authority that they are charming. My third novel, The Folly of the World, will be released in December of
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More about Jesse Bullington...
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“Manfried imagined the stars to be jewels shining in the depths of a long-sealed crypt and, drifting off, he almost glimpsed himself prying open the lid of night and stuffing his pockets with the glittering gems.” 2 likes
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