Title: What Kings Ate And Wizards Drank
Author: Krista D. Ball
Format: Electronic (Kindle)
This books reminds me of my first boyfriend.
When I first met this book I was entranced by its appearance. As it described itself I was captivated. Everything I ever wanted and dreamed of was in the pages of this handsome tome. I read the sample and praised it to all and sundry. What a fun book! What a terrific book! I love this book and once you get to know it you’ll love it too.
As anyone who ever had a first boyfriend knows, you can see where this is going.
We spent time together enjoying one another’s company. “I love you, Book! Tell me more!” Then the book started to get boorish. And the little quirks of Book started to get on my nerves. First it was minor, but then by the end it became all I could do to not dump Book loudly in public. We stayed together to the end because, just like that first boyfriend, there were compensations. I had a book to read. It was a good looking book and some of the things we did together were fun. In the end, though, I am glad I didn’t commit to Book long term.
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 George R.R. Martin hooked me in no small part with their well-researched and accurate detailing of foodstuffs in the medieval period.
This book is not meant to be exhaustive, and I didn’t expect it to be overly detailed. I was prepared for it to be a survey course (heh) so it isn’t the lack of scope that I find bothersome.
The problem is that this book seems to have had absolutely no editing whatsoever. Now, I don’t mean that it’s full of typos. I don’t think I saw a single typographical error. Grammar…now that’s a different story. The word “less” appears when it should be the word “fewer” (i.e. ‘less seed potatoes’) and some other quirks popped up here and there. But the real problem was the structure. Theoretically there are different chapters that presume to address different aspects of historical food. But the author has a few pet ideas which she repeats to the point of making me want to stab myself in the eye.
-Lambs aren’t served at Yule / Christmas
-Berries become ripe at different times
-Cheese is made from rennet, which is made from calves’ stomachs
These are just three of the ideas which get repeated at least five times each, in many cases almost out of context. The statements would be made, and as a reader of nonfiction I’d expect her to continue with the thesis she had just advanced. But she more often than not meanders to yet another reference of her work in homeless shelters or her fantastic berry garden. It reminded me the way my first boyfriend could turn every conversation back to baseball.
I don’t regret buying this book. I don’t regret reading this book. I’ll still recommend it to others because it is fun and not too time consuming. But just like that first boyfriend, while I have fond memories of our good times together I’m still glad I’m not committed to this book for the long term.