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Dec 20

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart

Category: Opinions

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington is hard to classify, but I’ll call it dark historical fantasy. The story takes place in medieval Europe and follows the ignominious lives of Hegal and Manfried Grossbart, twin brothers, grave robbers, murderous bastards. Hagel and Manfried begin the novel with one goal, journeying from their European homeland to “Gyptland.” Being grave robbers, they see Egypt as their very own promised land, an entire country of graves and tombs loaded with riches almost too numerous to even imagine. Their journey will have them cross paths with witches, monsters, demons, mad clergy, royalty, and they’ll murder lots, and lots of innocent people before they reach their end.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t like this book until I actually finished it. The Grossbarts are simply not likable characters, at all. They’re evil, they murder women, children, anyone who gets in their way, and they’re really successful at their evil. It’s not the evil that bothers me, it’s that the Grossbarts are not smart men, they’re lucky. It’s not that the Grossbarts are brilliant, it’s that everyone trying to thwart them just isn’t that bright. The Grossbarts aren’t Richard  III, or Iago, they’re just really paranoid with a kill first, ask questions never sort of attitude. When everyone else is screwing up, it’s hard to feel anything but angry at the evil being perpetrated. I so wanted one person to smarten up and take the Grossbarts’ heads. Intelligent evil is, at least for me, fun to read, and it’s completely satisfying when that evil is at long last destroyed. When Hegal and Manfried finally bit it (their demise is revealed early in the novel), I was all, “Finally! Thank you!” I was relieved more than satisfied. Still, as negative as that sounds, I really enjoyed this book when all was said and done. The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is epic in scope, by the end I definitely felt like I’d been on a journey. I’m not at all sorry I read it, it just wasn’t at all what expected.

1 comment

1 Comment so far

  1. sarah December 28th, 2010 8:31 pm

    i hope you’re well, mike. a stranger in virginia is thinking of you!