One of the aspects of working on Treasure Hunter Adventures is that doing research for adventures and supplements helps me learn more about the world in which I live. Listed below are some of the books that I read to provide background for my recent projects.
Title: Dungeon, Fire and Sword
Author: John J. Robinson
Publisher and Date: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1991
This is a comprehensive history for the Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, which starts with the First Crusade, which leads into the foundation of the Templars, and then follows their story all the way through to when they were disbanded, arrested, charged with all manner of heinous crimes, and—for many members—tortured and executed. Along the way, it takes side trips into the history of Islam as well as the Mongols. It is history that reads as well as, and perhaps better than, well-plotted fiction, and is vital to the scenario that I have written for Con of the North 2021. This book does not sugar-coat the events that it describes, but acknowledges the self-righteousness, brutality and greed that motivated many of the story's key participants.
Title: A Popular History of the Catholic Church
Author: Philip Hughes
Publisher and Date: Image Books, 1954
True to its name, this book provided a pretty concise overview of nearly two millennia in the history of the Catholic Church. It focuses more on the important ideas (Great Schism and Reformation) than on dramatic events (such as the Crusades and the Age of Discovery), but is still useful for a frame of reference.
Title: The Old North Trail
Author: Walter McClintock
Publisher and Date: Bison Books, 1999
In this book the author recounts his time spent among the Blackfoot people in Montana starting in 1886, a time when their lifestyles were changing but they still maintained many of their old traditions and beliefs. Originally part of a U.S. Forest Service expedition, he was eventually adopted by the a Blackfoot chief named Mad Wolf. It is a fascinating story, touched of course with sadness because the reader knows that the coming of white settlers is bringing such upheaval.
Title: Ancient Egyptian Myths & Legends
Author: Lewis Spence
Publisher and Date: Dover Publications, 1990
This book provides a good introduction to Egyptian mythology. It is definitely a product of its time, and uses the word race frequently, as reflects being written in the early 1900s. One nice thing is that it has plenty of pictures—something that was helpful as I was working on the scenario Unfinished Business, which involves the collection belonging to the late Mr. Douglass Murray and the mystery of the “American adventurer.” This book has the added benefit of being in the public domain, and so is available for free online, with color illustrations.
Title: Gods and Myths of Northern Europe
Author: H.R. Ellis Davidson
Publisher and Date: Penguin Books, 1984
This is a slim paperback volume that fits nicely in one's pocket; it is also packed with information about Norse mythology. The details move beyond the familiar stories of Thor, Odin and Loki, digging into the older tales of Thunar and Wodan. There are insights into ritual practices, too—just the kinds of things that one might want to add into Treasure Hunter Adventures that take place in northern Europe.
Title: Ludwig II of Bavaria: The Man and the Mystery
Author: Katerina von Burg
Publisher and Date: Windsor Publications, 1989
I picked up this book about fifteen years ago during a visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein, as a souvenir if nothing more. After reading the story of the late king, however, I knew that I wanted to write an adventure involving the many paintings of legendary tales on display in his castle. The book does a good job of telling the king's story, including his complicated relationship with Richard Wagner, and makes a strong case that he was betrayed by people in government around him and then murdered. In this way it reads almost like a whodunit, in addition to providing a glimpse into an interesting part of German history.
The Royal Castle of Neuschwanstein
Author: Julius Desing, with photography by Klaus and Wilhelm Kienberger
Publisher and Date: Foto Studio Verlag Kienberger GmbH, 1998
This book is another souvenir from visiting the castle; it presents the history of its construction, and then gives an overview of artistic highlights. Those pictures include many of the paintings that present stories from legends, including two—Tannhäuser and St. George—that are featured in the scenario The Mad King's Secret. It was, of course, invaluable in writing that adventure.
Title: The Vikings
Author: Else Roesdahl
Publisher and Date: Penguin Books, 1992
As one might expect, this book is a comprehensive overview of the Vikings, including how they lived, where and when they ruled, much of what they did, and how the Christianization of Europe brought this period to a close. There are maps and pictures, too, which help make for a thorough and detailed yet very readable text.
Title: The Vinland Sagas: The Norse Discovery of America
Author: Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson
Publisher and Date: Penguin Books, 1976
Although it is only a small and slim volume, this book provides two substantial and curious stories of Viking explorations in North America, involving Erik the Red, Leif Eriksson, and others. There is a lengthy introduction, but a reader can even skip that and then go back to it after reading the sagas themselves.
Title: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
Author: Robert Kurson
Publisher and Date: Random House, 2015
This book tells the very interesting story of two real-life treasure hunters, John Chatterton and John Mattera, and their search for the lost pirate ship the Golden Fleece. It provides a detailed look at the process involved in searching for and recovering a wreck from the sea floor. The story does take side trips into the history and activities of pirates in the Caribbean area, which might seem like a distraction for a reader who is already familiar with that topic, but even so one is eager to continue with the primary narrative.
Title: Thieves of Baghdad
Author: Matthew Bogdanos, with William Patrick
Publisher and Date: Bloomsbury, 2006
This book tells the story of Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, USMC. He had retired from military service, and was working as a prosecutor in New York City; that put him close to Ground Zero when the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists on 9/11. As such he was recalled to active duty, serving first in Afghanistan before heading to Iraq to help investigate looting at the national museum in Baghdad. The bulk of the tale focuses on those efforts, and it is a very interesting story indeed.