Literature in the Flanaess: Petit Histories
Date: Wed, March 16, 2005
Topic: The Library
Literature in the Flanaess: Petit Histories continues the Greyhawk Bibliographica series, examining the counterparts to the General Histories. Petit histories, as compared to general histories, take for their subject more narrow topics, and discussions of peoples and events. It should come as no surprise that a petit history may provide more detail about its specific subject matter than a general history that also addresses the same topics. Petit histories, while lacking the sweep or scope of general histories, provide more depth and specific detail. Eight individual books are described.
Literature in the Flanaess: Petit Histories
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Petit histories, as compared to general histories, take for their subject more narrow topics, and discussions of peoples and events. It should come as no surprise that a petit history might provide more detail about its specific subject matter than a general history that also addresses the same topics. Petit histories, while lacking the sweep or scope of general histories, provide more depth and specific detail. That petit histories may come to conclusions that disagree with those of a general history is usually the result of this depth of inquiry, or lack of greater scope. This does not mean, however, that petit histories are more often accurate than general histories. Writers of petit histories have their prejudices, politics and agendas as much as any other writer.
The eight petit histories, individually described below, are generally, although not universally, considered among the best of their kind. Avoiding overlap was a consideration in compiling this list. Certainly, there are any number of petit histories available on these and myriad other topics. The petit history is likely the most common form of writing in the Flanaess.
Crosse Ways of Ulek
by Andreas Wythe (4 Volumes)
1st Edition - 470 CY
Note - The author, a particularly long-lived half-elven wizard, is said to yet live in retirement in Celene.
The greatest of the petit histories, Crosse Ways of Ulek stands as the definitive history of the Ulek States. It also stands in stark contrast to the Chronicles of Keoland. The two works are best read together to gain the fullest understanding of the history of the Sheldomar Valley. Conflicts between the two works recounting of historic events and trends continues to spur scholarly debate. Both texts are required reading at the Royal University of Niole Dra. Not surprisingly, human and demi-human scholars take sharply different views of each volume’s relative merit.
To the more casual reader, Crosse Ways of Ulek remains remarkably accessible, for it combines historic narrative with something of the style of a travelogue, cataloging specific sites of importance. Would be treasure hunters have long fancied Crosse Ways of Ulek as an invaluable guide to the geography of the past within the Ulek States. Enough have followed references or clues in the volumes to wealth that this reputation for adventure and excitement continues to follow the volumes and contributes greatly to their general popularity outside purely academic circles.
Olvenkind in Celene
by Galieriel Half-elven (1 Volume)
1st Named Edition - 210 CY
Note - Earlier editions are said to exist within Celene with substantially enlarged texts. The author, a native of Celene, is said to have tutored Andreas Wythe, author of Crosse Ways of Ulek.
What little is generally known of the elves of Celene is attributable to this work. Originally bearing the title, The Courts of Elvenkind, that work was rewritten as Olvenkind in Celene and published in Waybury. The reason for the rewriting and publication outside Celene is unknown but speculation focuses on the author acting on behalf of the elves of Celene or contrary to their wishes. Both possibilities raise more questions than they would answer.
The text shows clear signs of the rewrite. While technically a history, the book traces events through a commentary on manners, protocol, court pageantry and celebrations. From this odd manner of presentation, it is imagined that the original text was a sort of guidebook on elven etiquette in Celene. Any successful attempts to obtain a copy of the original have either failed or the copies reside within private collections. While reading the text as a pure history is at times frustrating, the reader learns not a little about elves and how they see events as reflecting individual behavior as much as human notions of politics and military affairs.
Giantish Incursions Into the Flanaess
by “Lord Kelvin Halmari” (1 Volume)
1st Gran March Edition - 590 CY
Note - Giantish Incursions Into the Flanaess is a persistently recursive tract. It has appeared at various times throughout the Flanaess, each of which constitutes a separate edition. In each appearance, the text is updated, but the core text remains much the same. Editions are noted by place of publication and date.
Giantish Incursions Into the Flanaess is a polemic screed against giant-kind that seeks to warn of the dangers giants pose to the peoples and states of the Flanaess. Its language and claims are the wildest sorts of imaginings and conspiracy theories. It has variously seen publication in the Yeomanry, Geoff, Keoland, Sterich, Perrenland, Veluna, Nyrond, the prior North Province, Ratik and the Pale. Despite its lurid history, it remains the seminal work on the various sub-races of giants, their habits and how they might be best defeated. Each new publication updates the chronology of campaigns against the giants.
Credited to “Lord Kelvin Halmari,” who wrote Chronicles of Keoland, this authorship is highly doubtful. Halmari was human and could not possibly have lived to write the many versions of this text. It is certainly possible that Halmari could have had a hand in the creation of the original, which appeared in the Yeomanry, or the subsequent Keoland Edition, but this is not at all certain. The leading theory is that the Scarlet Brotherhood is behind the recursive editions of Giantish Incursions Into the Flanaess for the language of the text would inflame passions against all non-humans, not merely giants.
The Goblin Wars
by Belarus (3 Volumes)
1st Edition - 90 CY
Note - Belarus was a noted military commander from Old Ferrond.
A seminal treatise, The Goblin Wars is a triumph of historic scholarship and military history. In three volumes, the history of early Oeridian fights against the goblins of the Western Flanaess is recounted in vivid and exacting detail. If this were not enough, the author digresses to provide illuminating insights into goblin culture and military tactics. Indeed, the author is remarkably respectful of the goblins as foemen of the migrating Oeridians who first entered the Flanaess. The Goblin Wars is required reading at the military academies at Chendl and Rel Mord.
Although of antiquity, The Goblin Wars continues to enjoy great popularity in those areas still facing active goblin tribes. While some have attempted to use the text as a treasure map of sorts, seeking ancient goblin redoubts, little success has crowned such efforts to date. It is interesting, however, that the author describes such holds as “having sophistication almost unknown today.” Archeological inquiry, if not treasure hunting, could well produce a surprising rethinking of goblins.
The Orc Wars
by Belarus (4 Volumes)
1st Edition - 105 CY
Note - Belarus’ career saw him a soldier across much of modern Furyondy, Nyrond and the former Great Kingdom.
Outdoing his work in The Goblin Wars, The Orc Wars is a historic and military epic of unparalleled accomplishment and Belarus’ crowning achievement. Recounting the struggle for the Eastern Flanaess by migrating Oeridians, The Orc Wars casts light on a little known or forgotten chapter in the history of the Flanaess. That orcs do not now trouble the Flanaess much is mute tribute to the ferocity of the Orc Wars of the earliest settlement times and humanities ultimate, crushing victory. Herein is a saga of great tragedy and triumph, of immense cruelty and heroism.
The Orc Wars is required reading at the military academies at Chendl and Rel Mord. It also enjoys a surprising popularity in digested versions as popular literature. In Sunndi, it has spawned a series of notable plays, gaining fame for their spectacular reenactments of some of the battles described in the text. Like The Goblin Wars, The Orc Wars have spawned various treasure hunting expeditions, which have similarly not demonstrated much success. The disappearance of a number of these delving expeditions, however, leaves open some question.
A History of the Dwarven Race
by Thoran Ironshield (2 Volumes)
1st Edition - 50 CY
Note - All editions of this book are extremely rare and valuable. Two volumes of the same edition are exceedingly rare.
Thoran Ironshield sought to be the literary ambassador for his race, explaining dwarves to humanity. That he failed is more a tribute to the greed of humanity than any failing of the author. Excited by descriptions of mines, gems and precious metals, dwarves were forever stereotyped and made to endure fevered human explorations of their underground realms. The worst of these were grand looting expeditions; the best were unprepared adventure seekers whom the dwarves were compelled to rescue or see destroyed or enslaved by any number of subterranean menaces. Despite its unfortunate history, the two volume work remains the most significant to record a consistent history of the dwarven race.
In his later years, Ironshield took to heavy drink. He did not want for those eager to buy him a bottle in the hopes he would point them in the direction of some fabulous lode or abandoned trove. For their trouble and his, the sodden dwarf would often relate that the diggers of the local sewers had uncovered strange ruins that corresponded to descriptions of a famous lost hold of the dwarves. For few pieces of coin, which Ironshield must have used to leave town, he would add enough details to set in motion the disruption of local sanitation, doubtless as much to his amusement as to the ire of the town fathers. By the time the befouled, would-be adventure seekers were hauled from the ground and identified the old dwarf, he would be long gone.
Dwarven Rock Scrolls in Translation
by Thoran Ironshield ( 1 Volume)
1st Edition - 56 CY
Note - Very few copies of this work were produced, all in folio. Copies not in folio are certainly forgeries or copies that must be considered suspect.
Before he took to drink, Thoran Ironshield demonstrated himself a more than competent scholar in producing this work. Intended as a companion to A History of the Dwarven Race, Dwarven Rock Scrolls in Translation reproduces primary source material on dwarven history and culture without significant commentary. The importance of this information cannot be underestimated in any consideration of dwarven history. Most of the primary source material recorded in translation is simply unavailable to scholars in any other way.
Copies of Dwarven Rock Scrolls in Translation are much sought after. Copies of the 1st Edition with companion editions of A History of the Dwarven Race are almost unheard of and would be fantastically valuable. The dwarven Prince of Ulek reportedly collects Ironshield editions, attempting to purchase them whenever they come onto the market. Why the prince would want multiple copies of the same book is unknown. Speculation is that he seeks to obliterate Ironshield’s work from memory or that some secret is hidden among the editions, which must be compared for the secret to be revealed.
There & Back Again: A Short History of Halflings
by Jerrad Trollkin (1 Volume)
1st Edition - 150 CY
Note - Crysander Trollkin continues a family tradition of continually revisiting and republishing the Short History. While the original by Jerrad is the finer work, later works by Crysander and others have strong adherents. The precise number of versions and editions is almost beyond reckoning.
Part history, part inside joke, the Short History is perhaps poor historical writing but a delightful read. To believe the text, halflings have been present at every major historic event in the Flanaess and have played small but critical roles that have helped determined the outcomes. What in another author’s hands would be farce becomes certainly entertaining and even plausible when written by Trollkin. If the events related did not occur, Trollkin makes you believe, and want to believe, that they did. However much a certain clack my dispute the matter, by any true measure, no real understanding of the Flanaess is possible without direct reference to the work of Trollkin.
This latter observation is so because, whatever else may be said, the details in Trollkin’s work are amazing and often telling. The Short History offers insights into the history of the Flanaess found nowhere else. This alone gives the work weight in even the most sobber-sided academic circles. Leaving aside the more audacious claims of the author, the Short History draws upon a substantial stratum of historic observation, record and fact. If halflings have not so influenced events in the Flanaess, they, or someone, was certainly there to record events, those of a general nature and those others have missed or made but slight reference to. Too often has the Short History been dismissed only to prove accurate when other scholars investigate in the area.