Ancient Library

Now that you have learned much of Cyan, go forth into the world and seek ye books and films and comics about knights and samurai. But prepared with these recommendations.

Books: The majority of RPGs, from Dungeons & Dragons in 1974 that spoke of "fantastic medieval wargames", owe a great deal to J.R.R. Tolkien. Even if you've seen the films, the text of Lord of the Rings offers many more details and elements you'll recognize as having migrated to RPGs. For earlier medieval fantasy, check out William Morris's The Wood Beyond the World. (Available online.) If you're going for knights, King Arthur's Court offers the finest. Malory is the definitive primary source with Le Mort d'Arthur (See volumes one and two). Also excellent are the modern retellings The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and the Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart, beginning with The Crystal Caves.

Going east, the best samurai historical fiction includes Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi, John Allyn's Forty-Seven Ronin Story, and Ryunosuke Akutagawa's Rashomon and Other Stories. Also be sure to consult Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai, the definitive treatise on samurai written in 1716.

Movies: It's best to view films that have stood the test of time. Pass over Arthur and The Last Samurai for 1986's Excalibur and 1954's The Seven Samurai. Further Akira Kurosawa titles of interest are Rashomon and Yojimbo. Some worthwhile medieval films (with a dash of fantasy and adventure) are Becket, The Lion in Winter, The Magic Sword, The Princess Bride, and of course Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Comics: Samurai are a popular topic for manga writers; Rurouni Kenshin and Samurai Deeper Kyo top the heap. Stateside, Frank Miller takes them on in Ronin. Knights are less popular, since brawny folks like Conan the Barbarian and Red Sonja dominate in the Western medieval fantasy comics. Many webcomics are send-ups of RPG tropes, but the hilarous Rat Queens has carried this trend over to print, and given it a women-led twist that Terra and Celes, at least, would appreiate.