Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Doing research on the Frontier on a 10 bucks budget

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Of the 200-and-odd books I read over four years while working on Hope & Glory, India – A History, by John Keay was the first stop. I had tried approaching the textbook for my brother’s course on History and Civilization of India and the Far East, but found it too massive, and written in a language unknown to the living. Keay’s book was fun, well documented, and it was in a language I understood.
I had to start somewhere, and I started from there, and later I also read (and enjoyed) Keay’s book about the East India Company.

So now that I am doing a bit of in-depth background research for my work on the Frontier RPG, I decided to splurge on research books all of 10 euro: the price of a night out for a pizza at Casablanca’s, what passes for a night on the town here in our house.
And half of my budget went for John Keay’s China, a History – that is a lot heftier than its Indian counterpart, but hopefully just as fun.
Once again, my brother’s university books about Chinese history are there on the shelf, but what the heck, for starters I want something as user-friendly as possible.

I will also throw into the research pot another of Keay’s books that’s here on my shelf, his old but wonderful When Men and Mountains Meet: The Explorers of the Western Himalayas, 1820–75, because it’s certainly on topic.

The other half of my budget went for Abraham Eraly’s The Mughal Throne, that I had missed in my previous book haul when researching Hope & Glory.
Amazon Italy has a few copies of the Italian translation, by a very high-end “serious” publisher, discounted to half price because they are a little worse for wear.
This way, I got my copy for six bucks, including delivery, and the volume is perfectly fine (the white cover is a little dirty, but really, that’s not an issue for a reading copy).

Thus armed, I’ll spend the next four weeks reading and taking notes. So far I’ve played fast and loose with my Stories of the Frontier, but now it’s time to start doing things properly.
And as I often repeat, I like doing research.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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