Book Review: What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista D. Ball

So, this one is a little unusual for me to review in that it is a non-fiction book. It also happens to be written by a friend of mine, so I’ll get that out of the way right up front.

wka-coverI picked this one up to read for my fantasy related non-fiction square for the r/fantasy book bingo challenge. What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank is primarily a writing resource and guide for fantasy and historical authors. It discusses what kinds of food were available in what regions and when (focusing mostly on medieval Europe), details what you might find in a typical medieval pantry, discusses food storage and transportation in a time before modern appliances, and even includes a few recipes. It provides a lot of great information, diving in just far enough into these subjects, and others, to whet our appetites while encouraging the reader to research further, all with Krista’s wry humor keeping things light and fun.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book is that I actually learned some new things. Yes, I often come across the term ‘pottage’ but…what the hell is pottage anyway? Also, I appreciated that it spoke to not only the different time periods but also the division of classes and how the poorer folk ate compared to a rich landowner or lord. Learning about all that went into one of the great feasts, how much work and how much food, is fairly staggering.

I also enjoyed reading about Krista’s attempts to recreate some of the meals that she had come across in her research and her thoughts on them, especially the ones that didn’t go so well (like spilling food all over her dog). Hilarious and informative.

If you like food, if you enjoy history, or if you’re thinking about writing a fantasy novel and looking to add some realism to your world-building, consider picking this one up.

I quite enjoyed this and rated it 4/5 stars on goodreads.

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