I'm looing for a series of books I read in the early 2000s in Germany (I think it was a translation from English, I remember 3 books with a yellowish color). It was a medieval/fantasy setting, contained lots of fighting and at least one siege.

In one of the books, the main protagonist prepares a bow out of the body of his friends/enemies child and gifts it to the father. He uses bones for the structure, sinews of the string, prepares the glue from the body too. The whole process was written fairly detailed but in a technical/detached matter.


1 Answer 1


This is the Fencer Trilogy by K.J. Parker.

It features significant siege themes and the second book (Belly of the Bow) apparently has a character making a bow out of their relative's bones.

Spoiler for squick.

All through the night before, he’d drawn down the sun-dried tendons and pounded them on an oak board with a hide mallet until the sinew began to disintegrate into its component fibres; these he’d slowly and painstakingly drawn off with a purpose-made ivory comb, sorting the coarse, translucent yellow fibres into bundles of roughly matching length and laying them out on the bench in order of size so that they’d be handy when he came to use them. Now all that remained by way of preparation was to clean the ribs and make up the glue.

The bone was slippery with its own grease, so he scoured each section with lye and boiling water, paying particular attention to the insides of the splices, and set them aside to cool down while he made the different sorts of glue that would be needed for what was to follow.

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  • Great speed. It`s what I was looking for and I only remembered thsi one scene. I will accept this answer in a few minutes.
    – Julian
    Jun 2, 2021 at 11:40
  • 4
    I hope he did not use the boiled bones for the bow... boiled bones splinter, as each dog-owner should know ;) Jun 2, 2021 at 12:48
  • @Allerleirauh Wouldn't that mean boiled bones are better for the arrow points? Splintered arrow heads would be hard to remove without issue...
    – WernerCD
    Jun 3, 2021 at 0:51
  • @WernerCD Unboiled bones are more flexible, the are able to "bend" (even if in a small matter), boiled bones splinter if pressure is provided on them. I am not sure, if the pressure of living material would be enough to let them splinter. Dogs teeth are... Maybe if the arrow needs to be grabbed with tongs... But it would be a problem, if the arrow would splinter under the pressure of drawing the bow... Jun 3, 2021 at 6:30
  • @Allerleirauh my point was that unboiled bones are flexible enough for bows... boiled bones are... um... shattery... enough to be good arrow end points. Shatters on impact and does more damage than small pointy thing - it becomes many small pointed things. not the shaft - which would be wood (or flexible unboiled bones?)... but the point. Like a hollowed point arrow head...
    – WernerCD
    Jun 3, 2021 at 6:34

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