I’m super interested in reading and running this game sometime, but my knowledge of 1648 France is next to nothing. Does anyone have any suggestions on where someone like me might want to start? I’d love all your favorite fiction and/or nonfiction recommendations. Thank you!
Have you read Dumas?
Three Musketeers, the Red Sphinx, 20 Years After and Queen Margot are all excellent.
Reverte-Perez’s Alatriste novels are also excellent.
Cervantes’ Don Quixote was written a few years before our period.
Rafael Sabatini’s work is also not to be missed, though most of them don’t center France.
Captain Blood: Irish physician Dr. Peter Blood is arrested for treating rebels, sold into slavery in Barbados, escapes and becomes a pirate and terror of the Spaniards in the Caribbean. Starts in 1685, so 40 years after Miseries.
The Sea Hawk: Cornish gentleman Sir Oliver Tressilian is betrayed by family and sold as a galley slave on a Spanish galleon. He’s rescued by Barbary corsairs and offers to fight for the Muslims. He becomes Sakr-el-Bahr, the Hawk of the Sea. Takes place between 1588 and 1593, So roughly 50 years before Miseries.
The Tavern Knight: A revenge tale not unlike Dumas’ Count of Monte Cristo. Crispin Galliard seeks revenge on two men who wronged him. Not Sabatini’s greatest work, but set during the English Civil Wars, so contemporary with Miseries.
Bardelys the Magnificent. Marcel Saint-Pol, Marquis de Bardelys, lays a wager with the Comte de Chatellerault that he will woo and win Mademoiselle de Lavedan to wife within three months. A comedy of errors ensues. Set during the reign of Louis XIII, so just a few years prior to Miseries.
For a look at the east, I can’t recommend Harold Lamb’s Cossack Chronicles highly enough. These stories were clearly a hugh inspiration on Robert E. Howard of Conan fame. The Cossack Chronicles are set late in the 16th century, so a bit earlier than Miseries.
They follow the aging Khlit the Cossack, who ventures out on the Steppe alone after his comrades in the Zaporizhian Sich try to force him to retire as a monk in an Eastern Orthodox monastery. His adventures take him across the steppe to China, down to Africa, back to Ukraine and lots of other places in between. Pure adventure story fun.
Speaking of Cossacks, the first volume of the Polish national epic, With Fire and Sword, by Henryk Sienkiewicz, follows young Polish officer Lt. Jan Skrzetuski through the Cossack-Polish Civil War of 1647-1650.