Re thoughts on medicine in fantasy vs. history

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Sun Nov 21 15:00:02 EST 2004

--- Ven <vendersleighc at> wrote:

> Jadwiga appealed
> <ok, so I'm scheduled to be one of the presenters
> of a talk on 'Medicine
> in history and fantasy' at DarkoverCon.
> Pushing aside my own ideas for a moment, I
> figured I'd ask people for 
> their thoughts on the subject. Yeah, I know it's
> a wide topic. But there 
> it is. From Lucy's diamond cordial in Narnia to
> the stock figure of the 
> 'local herb witch' in fantasy... The medievaloid
> fantasy seems to be 
> predicated on old feminist medical history with
> mental powers added in, 
> generally. But can you think of good examples of
> 'people think it's like 
> history but it's fantasy?' (and then much more that
was interestung...)

A couple of examples from historical (rather than
fantasy) fiction. Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael seems
to be one of those with an encyclopedic knowledge of
herblore, and never a misdiagnosis. At the other
extreme is the hero of John James's "17 of the Leyden"
which is set in the 17th century. He is a doctor and
very much into the latest medical techniques of the
day. (a book well worth reading if you ever see it). I
seem to recall some fantasy book with much
blood-letting, where it went on to such a level as to
affect a character's judgement - possibly a Katherine
Kurtz Deryni book. That is possibly the only fantasy
book I can think of in which medicine does more harm
than good (except were that is the intention) -
something that happens often enough still.

Jon (who's wife, an MZB fan has an item of clothing
called Marion because it is a Dark Over Coat)

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