Word Wednesday.



1: Capitalized: a deity erroneously ascribed to Islam by medieval European Christians and represented in early English drama as a violent character.

2: an overbearing or nagging woman: shrew.

[Origin: Middle English Termagaunt, Tervagaunt, Old French Tervagan the imaginary deity: c.1500, “violent, overbearing person” (especially of women), from Teruagant, Teruagaunt (c.1200), name of fictitious Muslim deity appearing in medieval morality plays, from Old French Tervagant, a proper name in “Chanson de Roland” (c.1100), of uncertain origin.

Termagant, adjective: overbearing, shrewish. (C 1598)

“The Englishman hardly knew whether to put him down as a man haunted by a fixed delusion, or as one oppressed by a guilty conscience, or as an unbearably henpecked husband. The probabilities, when reckoned up, certainly pointed to the last idea; but, still, the impression conveyed was that of a more formidable persecutor even than a termagant wife.” – Canon Alberic’s Scrap-Book, M.R. James.


If you like well researched historical fiction, engaging characters, and well plotted and often challenging mysteries, Oliver Pötzsch has you covered with his The Hangman’s Daughter series. So far, the books, in order are: #1: The Hangman’s Daughter, #2: The Dark Monk, #3: The Beggar King, #4: The Poisoned Pilgrim, #5: The Werewolf of Bamberg, #6: The Play of Death. (I stacked them wrong, sorry.) The 7th book will be out early in ‘018.

The main characters are members of the executioner dynasty of the Kuisl family of Bavaria. The author is a descendant of the Kuisl family, and is a meticulous researcher. The books are set in the mid to late 1660s. They are altogether engaging and interesting, with a host of recurring characters, many of the likable; many of them detestable, all of whom you get to know quite well. Most of these characters are various inhabitants of Schongau. The character of Johann Lechner brings Havelock Vetinari to mind, just a bit, albeit with a more Medieval sensibility, which is not always a good thing.

There are, obviously, distressing events in the books, but for the most part, they are kept on the somewhat low key side.  The one exception to this is the prologue in The Hangman’s Daughter, which is both horrifying and very grisly. Mercifully, it’s short. These books are in no way any sort of paean to torture or the like. Altogether, they are grand books, recommended.