A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry
I have a new blog crush. And if the phrase A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry makes you perk up, you just might find it interesting, too.
I can’t remember who I saw linking to this guy’s analysis of the Siege of Gondor, but it’s an entertaining read — all six parts of it. And in the course of reading it, I noted that he linked to various other posts he’s written, many of which sounded interesting. But the nail in the coffin of me walking away was realizing he had a link at the top titled Resources for World-Builders.
Bret Devereaux turns out to be a military historian specializing in the Roman Republic, but with interests ranging around the ancient Mediterranean and into medieval Europe, plus at least some awareness of other parts of the world like India and China. His seven-part takedown of Sparta is gloriously scathing, and has single-handedly ensured that if some unknown force ever tells me I have to choose where and when in history I’m going to be sent back to, Sparta’s going to be at the rock bottom of my list. Or the three essays tearing apart the claim that Game of Thrones is a “realistic” representation of medievalism — with bonus essays like “The Preposterous Logistics of the Loot Train Battle” (tl;dr: Dany could have saved herself the trouble of attacking, because Jaime’s entire force would have starved to death even after eating all the food they were supposedly transporting to King’s Landing). But what really sealed the deal for me was probably the Practical Polytheism series, which digs into how Mediterranean polytheism worked, and how it’s different from the kinds of assumptions we tend to make today.
It’s a new enough blog that if you don’t mind falling down a rabbit hole for a while, it’s not that difficult to read the entirety of the archives. (I know because I’ve, uh, done it.) As the Practical Polytheism essays and the two most recent posts on ancient writers show, the focus is not entirely on military matters — in part because, being an Actual Historian of these things, he’s well aware that you can’t properly discuss armies without paying attention to things like agriculture or religion. The two Lonely Cities essays crossed my screen just in time to influence the current New Worlds Patreon topic, and I’ll definitely be swinging back to some of his military writing when I get around to that subject myself. So I highly recommend the blog to anybody who’s interested in worldbuilding or military history . . . and I know there’s at least a few people around these parts who fit that label. 🙂