Literature in the Flanaess: General Histories
Date: Sun, March 13, 2005
Topic: The Library
Literature in the Flanaess: General Histories looks at three historical texts that survey the broad panorama of recorded events in the Flanaess. The three books described are standard reference texts, notable for their scope, if not always their detail or insight. Discussed are The Chronodex of Didrias, The Chronicles of Keoland by Halmari and The High History of the Aerdi by Iquander. Also discussed are the questions surrounding Halmari's possible affiliation with the Scarlet Brotherhood and the puzzle of the three Iquanders.
Literature in the Flanaess: General Histories
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
General histories take for their subject matter the history of regions or peoples with the aim of providing broad insights only available when more than a discreet inquiry is made. In the Flanaess, historical writing has been the most common type of literature undertaken by authors. Certainly, there is enough to write about and this, no doubt, helps to explain the popularity of the form.
Not all historical writing is good history, however. Supposedly historic texts too often relate but a single version of events, seeking to promote a particular view or agenda. In such cases, it is necessary to read between the lines to discern fact from opinion. Of course, opinion or bias is almost unavoidable in historic writing and even the best histories are not immune.
What follows are descriptions of the three leading historical tracts presently circulating in the Flanaess. It should not be a disappointment to find that not one of them is completely authoritative or reliable on all points but that each has its flaws. Those seeking additional general histories will find a multitude readily available, written by scholars, sages and cranks. The three presented here are generally, but not universally, accepted as the foremost of their kind.
The Chronodex by Didrias (47 Volumes)
1st Complete Edition - 551 CY
Note - Individual volumes may have earlier dates as volumes were published serially as they were completed.
No discussion of the histories of the Flanaess can be reasonably made without immediate reference to Didrias’ Chronodex. An exacting and exhaustive history of the entirety of the Flanaess in 47 immense volumes, the Chronodex was written between 460 and 551 CY and is current to that year. The historian Didrias suffered from a severe obsessive-compulsive personality that would not allow him, once he had begun, to do anything less than document the entirety of the panorama of the history of the Flanaess down to the seemingly smallest and most inconsequential detail. Incomplete when he died in 530 CY, the Chronodex was brought to a conclusion by Didrias' son, Didron, who also attempted to edit the massive work. Those efforts were only partly successful.
The Chronodex is an amazingly complete work in which it is nearly impossible to find any discrete matter with ease. There is no index. While the table of contents takes up the entirety of the first volume, this is of less than a practical benefit. Nonetheless, when the Chronodex speaks to a topic, it is authoritative. Indeed, discoveries within the rambling text of the Chronodex continue to reward scholars who take the time to come to know Didrias’ lifeswork. An essential, if impractical text, the Chronodex by Didrias is the greatest single history of the Flanaess ever attempted.
The Chronicles of Keoland by Lord Kelvin Halmari (7 Volumes)
1st Edition - 425 CY
Note - The 1st Edition was published in expurgated and unexpurgated editions. The unexpurgated 1st Edition is much rarer, having been banned at various times.
Completed during the height of Keosh power in 425 CY, the Chronicles of Keoland is a nationalist and jingoistic paean to the “new Suloise Imperium” in the guise of the Kingdom of Keoland. Despite the drawbacks of the author’s prejudices, the Chronicles of Keoland is the most comprehensive historic treatment of the lands of the Sheldomar Valley, for these were identified by the author as Keoland’s natural bounds. While possessed of an obvious agenda, Halmari was a superior scholar at the same time.
Of the author, too much may be said. A virulent Suel nationalist, Halmari was by all accounts a phlegmatic and miserly personality with few friends. He completed the Chronicles substantially without patronage as a purely personal endeavor. Rumors that Halmari was associated with the Scarlet Brotherhood, who helped fund the Chronicles as a piece of propaganda as much as scholarship, have long circulated but have never been proven and are likely reflective of reactions to the author’s sour disposition.
The High History of the Aerdi by “Iquander the Savant-Sage” (12 Volumes)
1st Complete Edition in 12 Volumes - 580 CY
Note - Editions in 4 volumes circulated as early as 310 CY, with a later 8 volume edition published in 455 CY.
A careful, if tedious, recounting of the history of the Great Kingdom and its various successor states to include Furyondy, Nyrond, the Urnst States and the Iron League nations, this is the standard historic text of the Flanaess to which most common reference is made if the subject of Keoland is not raised. Without error, the text is also unenlightened by any particular insights into the events recorded. What interest the High History has beyond the most mundane lays in the identity of its author.
History records at least three “Savant-Sages” known to have styled themselves “Iquander,” who may or may not have been, or are, the same person. These “Iquanders” are variously distinguished as Iquander of Nellix (a sage with a pronounced druidic bent who rarely ventured far from home), Iquander of Greyhawk (a cosmopolitan sage and wizard, given to high living) and Iquander the Elder (a darkly mysterious figure about whom almost nothing is known but who is referenced in various period sources as a sage of significant repute). Defying age and some say reason, Iquander of Greyhawk claims to be the source of all references to the “Savant-Sage,” and continues to work on additional volumes of the High History.
Author’s End Note:
The three texts described above are general references. That is their strength but also their weakness. Petit histories look more discretely at particular nations, times or historic topics but do so with usually more depth and insight. These will be discussed in the next entry of the Greyhawk Bibliographica series.