The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart: Best book I never finished

fantasy book review Jesse Bullington The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbartfantasy book reviews Jesse Bullington The Sad Tale of the Brothers GrossbartThe Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is probably one of the best written books I never finished.

It’s a historical fantasy taking place during the dark ages. Two brothers whose chosen profession is grave-robbing do not limit their criminal activities to just stealing from the dead. Their own demented morals justify any undertaking for even the slightest gain, and rationalize their most despicable acts. Revenge-seeking enemies, demons, and witches, hound their journey to the lands of the Moors where they hope to raid the tombs of ancient kings. To sum it up; the Grossbarts could be the evil cousins of the Brothers Grimm.

Jesse Bullington has crafted a unique story. I didn’t note any of the mistakes that most new authors make and his sarcastic wit is hilarious — the Grossbarts have two pages of dialog defining the origin and use of the most dirty of all cuss-words, the “F-bomb.”

Mr. Bullington also has a lot of guts. Brothers Grossbart is definitely not for the faint of heart. Even I, who consider myself a connoisseur of dark fantasy, had a difficult time getting past the graphic murder of an entire family (including young children) that occurs early in the book.

Even though The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart proved to just not be my “mug of ale,” it probably is one of the best written books I never finished. I might have been able to admire the Grossbarts for their tenacity and cleverness if I could have gotten past their cold-blooded homicidal natures. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t care less about the Grossbarts or anyone else in the story. At about page 283, when it became too much of a struggle to keep reading, I stopped.

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart — (2009) Publisher: Hegel and Manfried Grossbart may notconsider themselves bad men — but death still stalks them through the dark woods of medieval Europe. The year is 1364, and the brothers Grossbart have embarked on a naïve quest for fortune. Descended from a long line of graverobbers, they are determined to follow their family’s footsteps to the fabled crypts of Gyptland. To get there, they will have to brave dangerous and unknown lands and keep company with all manner of desperate travelers — merchants, priests, and scoundrels alike. For theirs is a world both familiar and distant; a world of living saints and livelier demons, of monsters and madmen. The Brothers Grossbart are about to discover that all legends have their truths, and worse fates than death await those who would take the red road of villainy.

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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  1. I did read the whole book but I didn’t love it like so many other have. The writing was done well, but I just couldn’t get into the story of the brothers.

    Kind of glad to hear there are others who didn’t care as much for it either.


  2. We do seem to have the same feeling about this book, Melissa. I do have to give Mr. Burlington credit due, he is a clever writer, but the story just wasn’t for me.

    I generally like dark fantasy or really cool bad-guys (which the Grossbarts are far from cool), but this story just didn’t have anything, personally, held my interest.

  3. I also read this for a while and haven’t finished it, won’t bother. BUT the cover art is AweSome!

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