The Ancient Art of Listicles

Annoying for some, clickbait for others, listicles are everywhere. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, ChatGPT defines them as follows: A listicle is a type of article or blog post that is presented in the form of a list, with each item on the list...

A Fantasy Tip from History: Book Shrines

In a recent post, I described the many ways Medieval scribes and readers would transport their treasured books. There was one kind of book in particular that demanded its own post. Enter the Irish cumdach or ‘book shrine’. As Erik Kwakkel of Leiden University...

A Fantasy Tip from History: Travelling Books

My Kindle has a couple of thousand books in it. Yes, thousand. Its size? smaller than most of my books and small enough to fit my jacket’s inside pocket. Nowadays, we barely spare a thought for the amazing fact that we can carry with us more books than an entire...

A Fantasy Tip from History: A Pox On You!

Two days ago, thieves broke into a chapel in my local parish. They left with a chalice, two candlesticks, and a Bible. When I heard about it, I wondered if the Bible’s publishers still followed the Medieval tradition of protecting books with curses. Which makes...

Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds

If you are in London until November 27th, you have a great opportunity to visit “Sunken Cities: Egypt’s Lost Worlds” at the British Museum. The exhibition contains treasures excavated from the Mediterranean and, as the Economist points out, explains how the ancient...

Cylon of Athens: The Real-life Teo Altman

One of my favorite Pearseus characters is Teo Altman; the power-hungry despot who lies and kills his way to the top. As most of my characters, he is based on a real-life person from ancient Greek history. Cylon of Athens is associated with the first reliably dated...

A Fantasy Tip from History: Medieval Graffiti

In Kingston, a small village in rural Cambridgeshire, a stolid tenant farmer is wiping moist eyes. His three children had survived the 1507 outbreak of the ‘sweats;’ a sickness that could see you hale and hearty at lunchtime, and dead before supper. But by...

A Fantasy Tip from Russian History

Six-year-old Onfim stifled a yawn. His teacher was droning on and on about Old Russian alphabet, but Onfim had had enough scrawling letters onto his birchbark notebook. His mind wandered to the really exciting things that Novgorod in 1220 AD had to offer: brave...