Monday, 13 February 2012

The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

This is unquestionably the most disgusting, violent and profane book I have ever read but that is counterbalanced by its ridiculous nature. It is difficult to be offended in any meaningful way by something so fundamentally silly.
Manfried and Hegel Grossbart are two peasant brothers journeying through the landscapes of medieval Europe seeking their fortune in the treasure filled tombs of Egypt. On their travels they encounter witches, demons, monsters, bandits and mercenaries all of which are intent on killing them but none of whom are as evil or disgusting as the brothers themselves.

Jesse Bullington got straight down to business having the Grossbarts murder an entire family (including four children) in cold blood within the first few pages and from then on it is a novel of extreme violence and gore. The Grossbarts spend the rest of the book threatening, assaulting, robbing, mutilating, murdering and generally ruining the lives of anyone unfortunate enough to cross their paths. They utter the foulest profanities and blasphemies I have ever read on paper and cause mayhem wherever they go. Barely a page goes by when a character wasn’t cursing or leaking vomit, blood or excrement. In general the story is poorly put together with ridiculous, unconvincing dialogue and two dimensional cardboard characters I cared little or nothing about.

Because the brothers are so monumentally evil and stupid I found it impossible to feel any pity or kind feelings towards them, I couldn’t wait for them to get their just deserts which never seemed to come. I feel Bullington was trying too hard to shock and offend rather than focusing on developing the characters or story in any significant way.

It’s not all bad; because the book doesn’t take itself too seriously it is easy to read and I found myself making a significant dent in it quite early on. Their first encounter with a monster in the forest was quite impressive. Some of the fights are pretty exciting and dramatic but sadly all of this is overshadowed by the book’s faults, of which there are many. One thing Bullington has definitely achieved is to have created two of the most despicable figures to come out of recent fiction. Oh yes and the front cover is pretty cool.

Towards the end the book completely lost its thread and became quite difficult to follow with too many new (and arguably quite pointless) characters introduced near the end of the book when it would have been best left as it was before.

Not a book I would re-read
Final verdict 2/5

By Chris

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