Years ago I read a shared universe trilogy a world in which a great empire had discovered gunpowder just as they were falling to a barbarian invasion.

The first novel took place just as the empire fell to barbarian invaders, and focused on a group of researchers who were just working out how to make cannon work, and who fled to the mountains just as it fell to form what became something like an hidden monastic order to preserve their knowledge.

The second novel occurred centuries later and concerns a disgraced member of the upper classes (descendants of the invading barbarians) who's disgraced, in part, because he's working as an apothecary, and treats the underclass (descendants of the rulers of the former empire), but who still has a grudging place because he is the only apothecary in the city who can cure certain venereal diseases. He ends up fleeing, for some reason, and is helped by the "scientists" from the underground order.

The third novel occurs centuries later yet, as the monastery up in the mountains is dealing with a completely new bunch of barbarian invaders.

One interesting aspect is the magic in the universe, which seemed to be based on a psychic power to make people have accidents. Magicians could, by concentrating on someone, will them to have good luck or to have bad luck.

Would have been late 80's, I think. Three books, three authors. Only the three books in the series.

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    Can you remember anything regarding the shared universe aspect? Were these books all that was set in that universe? did each book have multiple authors (like most of the Wild Cards books), or was there just one author per book? – RDFozz Oct 24 '18 at 20:43
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    It looks like books along those lines may be labelled "flintlock fantasy" or "gunpowder fantasy" - have you searched those terms? I tried, and came up with tis list from goodreads, and this one, and this one from another website. However, at a glance, most things that seem to be part of series seem to have the same writers for each book in the series, so I'm not sure it'll be any help. – RDFozz Oct 24 '18 at 21:56

Thanks to RDFozz for giving me some ideas on where to search.

What I was looking for was Baen's "The Sword of Knowledge" trilogy.

  • "A Dirge for Sabis" by C.J. Cherryh and Leslie Fish
  • "Wizard Spawn" by C.J. Cherryh and Nancy Asire
  • "Reap the Whilrwind" by C.J. Cherryh and and Mercedes Lackey

All three were published in paperback in 1989, then republished in a combined trade-paperback omnibus in 1995 and in hardcover in 2005.

Baen seems to have the first 12 chapters available online, but I've not been able to find an ebook anywhere. The link to the "Electronic version by WebWrights" is dead.


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