All the Grimnoir Quotes

My next upcoming series is called the Grimnoir Chronicles. The first book in the series is called Hard Magic. It is an alternative history/epic fantasy that takes place in 1932 in a world where magical powers began to appear in the 1850s. Each of the chapters starts with a fake historical quote designed to flesh out the differences between the TGC world and ours. That enabled me to concentrate on the important things, like using a Thompson on a demon or big magic fights agains the Imperial Japanese.  Because that is just how I roll.  Toni enjoyed Hard Magic, so it will be coming out from Baen. Hard Magic will probably be released in 2011.

I’ve posted a few of these here before as I was originally writing the book, but I don’t think I ever put them all into one place. So here are the chapter opening quotes from Hard Magic.  Hopefully they’ll give you a bit of a glimpse into the TGC universe.


One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die. The appearance of esoteric and etheral abiliites, magical fires and feats of strength, in recent decades are the purest demonstration of natural selection. Surely, in time, that general law will require the extinction of traditional man.

Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Man and Selection of Human Magical Abilities, 1879


We now have over a thousand confirmed cases of individuals with these so-called magical abilities on the continent alone. The faculty has descended into a terrible uproar over the proper nomenclature for such specimens. All manner of Latin phrases have been bandied about. Professor Gerard even suggested Grimnoir, a combination of the old French Grimoire, or book of spells, with Noir, for Black, in the sense of the mysterious, for at this juncture the origin of said Powers remains unknown. He was laughed down. Personally, I’ve taken to calling them wizards, for the very idea of there being actual magic beyond the bounds of science causes my esteemed colleagues to sputter and choke.

Dr. L. Fulci, Professor of Natural Science, University of Bern, Personal Journal 1852


The learned gentlemen from the university have asked me if I relied on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity or if I used the simpler rules of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation on the evening in question when I accidentally took Sheriff Johnson’s life . Shit. I don’t know. I just got angry and squished the fucker. But I’ve gotten better at running things and I promise not to do it no more.

Jake Sullivan, Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary 1928


As soon as the idea was introduced that all men were equal before God, that world was bound to collapse. Behold the failed America, a culture steeped in rot, their magics used publicly in the streets, without control, even allowed to the despicable Jew.

Adolph Hitler, Final Munich speech before his arrest and execution by firing squad,1929


I do not know why almighty God saw fit to give to man, within this very decade, magics of the elements and a quickening of the mind, Powers beyond reason and comprehension, and spells of energy and the spirit, when we were already so poised to destroy ourselves on our own. We enter tumultuous times. Left to our own devices I believe that I could stay this nation’s course, to hold this Union firm, but now I fear. Only five years have passed since the magicians began to appear seemingly at random from our people and I know not where this path will lead.

Oh why, Lord, did you see fit to give that accursed Stonewall Jackson the strength of ten?   

Abraham Lincoln, Document discovered in the Smithsonian Archives, date unknown


Gentlemen, we have now reached the last point. If anyone of you doesn’t mean business let him say so now. An hour from now will be too late to back out. Once in, you’ve got to see it through. You’ve got to perform without flinching whatever duty is assigned you, regardless of the difficulty or the danger attending it. If it is steering the clouds and calling down lightning, if it is hurling fire or steel, if it is breaking the German’s will, or dragging their Battle Zeppelins from the sky, if it is the closest kind of fighting — be anxious for it. You must know your Power, how to shoot, and how to stay alive. No matter what comes you mustn’t squeal. Think it over — all of you. If any man wishes to withdraw he will be gladly excused, for others are ready to take his place.

General Theodore Roosevelt, from speech given to 1st Volunteer Brigade (Active) before second battle of the Somme 1918


MAGIC LEADS TO TERROR – City Firemen were unable to contain the FIRE that ripped through a Mar Pacifica estate on Sunday evening until there were only charred remains of the home, belonging to famous big game hunter L.S. Talon. A TERRIBLE DISCOVERY was made once the DEADLY flames were extinguished. So far, SEVEN human bodies have been recovered from the scene. Local residents say that there was a great commotion and much GUNFIRE before the conflagration spread.  RUMOR is that Mr. Talon was a supporter of MAGIC and was himself an ACTIVE. He has been missing since Sunday and is believed to be amongst the DEAD. 

Article, San Francisco Examiner, 1929.


Why did I join the 1st Volunteers? That’s a tough one. My older brother, Matt, he just liked to fight, and  figured Germans would serve good as any. My other brother, Jimmy, he was simple. He went wherever we went. Me… I was the one that liked to ponder on stuff. Roosevelt did like he did before with the Rough Riders. My daddy was a Rough Rider in Cuba. President Wilson didn’t want him to go, but General Roosevelt wanted to prove that Actives were good for the country. Got himself killed in the process. Never did like his politics, too Progressive for me, but I’d follow that man into battle anytime. Lousy politician, great leader… Sorry. The question… Why’d I go? I guess I felt a duty to show that Actives could be the useful… that we could be the good guys… I was a fool.

Jake Sullivan, Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary 1928




My cavalry unit was camped eighty-two kilometers south of the Podkamennaya basin that morning. Despite driving the Green Cossack army back for nearly three months, the Nipponese troops had withdrawn earlier in the week. Their retreat was unexpected, but a welcome chance for us to regroup, tend to our wounds, and fatten our fighting bears on the local reindeer herds. We discovered the reason for the Imperials’ retreat around breakfast. A blue light appeared in the northern sky, rising from the horizon as a pillar, until it disappeared into the clouds. Scouts estimated the disturbance was near the position of our main infantry encampments. Kapitan Kurgan had a pocket watch. He said the disturbance started at exactly 7:00. Flocks of birds and large numbers of forest animals retreated past our camp in the direction opposite the light. At 7:05 the light had grown so bright that it was as if there was a second sun. Then the noise came, like the sound of artillery. The earth shook. All of us were knocked to the ground. The sky split in two and the light turned to fire. The fire grew until the entire north was fire and it came toward us. The hot wind came after the thunder, snapping down all the trees of the forest and flinging our tents. The temperature increased until it was unbearable. Our clothing caught fire and our bears went mad from the pain, turning on their Controllers and rending them. I was thrown approximately two hundred meters into the river. The water boiled. That is all that I recall.   

Leytenant D. Vasiliev’s animated corpse. Testimony to the Tsar’s Investigative Council on the Tunguska Event. 1908


It was nearly eleven o’clock – an immensely late hour for those latitudes – but the whole town was still gathered in the Gatlinburg courthouse yard, listening to the disputes of theologians. The Scopes trial had brought them in from all directions. There was a friar wearing a sandwich sign announcing that he was the Bible champion of the world. There was a Seventh Day Adventist arguing that Clarence Darrow was the beast with seven heads and ten horns described in Revelation XIII, and that the end of the world was at hand. A charlatan magician was escorted from the premises for pulling a rabbit from a hat, while nearby a fundamentalist of the Merlin-Baptists pontificated on the epistles of St. Paul while shooting lightning from his eyes and none dared interrupt that sermon.  There was the eloquent Dr. T.T. Martin, of Blue Mountain, Mississippi, who had come to town with a truck-load of torches (the wooden, not the human kind) and hymn books to put Darwin in his place. There was a singing brother bellowing apocalyptic hymns. There was William Jennings Bryan, followed everywhere by a gaping crowd. It was better than the circus.

H.L. Mencken, Editorial in the Baltimore Mercurium about the Tennessee Magic-Monkey Trial. 1926


People ask me how I do it. It is hard to explain. There is just this thing inside, like a battery. It charges up on its own, and I can turn it on when I really need it. The battery runs down fast, too fast, and it takes time to charge back up, but when it is on… I can feel the individual pistons thumping, the air over the wings, I can see the propeller turning… everything. It is like time slows down. Well, mister, let’s just say that when I’m on, I own that sky.

Lt. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, Interview after breaking the world airspeed record in a Curtiss R4C Parasite 1927


Man found that he was faced with the acceptance of “magical” forces, that is to say such forces as cannot be comprehended by the sciences, and yet having undoubted, even extremely strong, effects. The false idea of some comprehensive, unexplainable “ power” was thus born in the collective unconscious … Now that the realm of magic had opened for man, our greatest neuroses have been laid bare, so we explain them away with imaginary things.

Sigmund Freud, Letter composed just prior to his death by cocaine overdose, 1925


 I am by heritage a Jew, by citizenship a Swiss, by magical gift a Cog, and by makeup a human being, and only a human being, without any special attachment to any state or national entity whatsoever.

Albert Einstein, Letter to Alfred Knesser, 1919


You can go a long way with a smile. You can go a lot farther with a smile and a gun. A smile, a gun, and a Brute get you the key to the city.

Al “Scarface” Capone, Interview 1930


 …And on this momentous day, let us remember the brave sacrifice of Junior Assistant 3rd Engineer Harold Ernest Crozier of Southampton, who was lost after an ice collision on our maiden voyage. His natural magical gifts, combined with his great moral fortitude, enabled him to control the incoming waters before there was any other loss of life. He was a credit to the Active race. We shall now have a moment of silence for Engineer Crozier.

Captain Edward J. Smith of the RMS Titanic, on its 5th anniversary cruise, 1917


As an eminent pioneer in the realm of high frequency currents, I congratulate you on the great success of your life’s work, but I am of the sad belief that your Peace Ray may have been inappropriately named.

Albert Einstein, Letter to Nikola Tesla for Tesla’s 75th Birthday 1931


It seemed like a good idea at the time.

William M. Jardine, United States Secretary of Agriculture, after the MWAB (Magical Weather Alteration Board) backfired and resulted in record droughts across the Midwest, 1927


Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of magic, as the blackest.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1930


 It was during my wandering time that I first met an American. The black ships of Commodore Perry had recently arrived in Nippon. These foreign barbarians did not ask the shogun for permission to open trade; they demanded it from the decks of their warships while ringed in cannons under a cloud of coal smoke that blotted out the sky. There was an assumption of this absolute right. The strongest does not ask, cajole, or beg. It is the duty of the strongest to command and the weakest to obey. I had long made my way by selling my sword, and whatever lord I served inevitably became the strongest, so I was well acquainted with this concept at the individual level. Yet, it was the Americans that opened my eyes to the greater possibilities. As the strong lord must rule over the weak peasant, so must the strong nation rule the entire world. I owe them a great deal as I have tried to apply this lesson ever since.

Baron Okubo Tokugawa, Chairman of the Imperial Council, My Story, 1922


Gott im Himmel. Lassen Sie uns bitte sterben.

Translated: God in Heaven, please let us die. Graffiti seen in Dead City 1925


The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation. The negro during Reconstruction was threatening enough, but negroes with powerful magic were an inconceivable threat. At last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the south to protect the Southern country, to keep the magical negroes in check. Active Magicals, because of their chaotic nature, must be kept under constant scrutiny, especially those of untrustworthy races.

Woodrow Wilson History of the American People, 1910


Billy Clanton and Frank McLowry commenced to draw their pistols at the same time Tom McLowry jumped behind a horse. I had my pistol in my overcoat pocket where I had put it. When I saw Billy and Frank draw their pistols I drew my pistol. I knew that the McLowry brothers had the reputation of having wizard’s magic and I aimed at Frank McLowrv. The two first shots which were fired were fired by Billy Clanton and myself he shot at me, and I shot at Frank McLowry. I do not know which shot was first; we fired almost together. Morgan then shot Billy Clanton. The fight then became general. After several shots were fired Ike Clanton ran up and grabbed my arm. I could see no weapon in his hand and thought at the time he had none, and so I said to him, “The fight has now commenced. Go to fighting or get away.” At the same time I pushed him off with my left hand. He started and ran down the side of the building and disappeared between the lodging house and the photograph gallery. My next shot struck Frank McLowry in the belly. He staggered off on the sidewalk but was still able to pick up a horse to throw at us. Virgil was struck by the flying horse before Holliday, who had the shotgun, fired at and killed Frank McLowry. Tom McLowry was unarmed, it made no difference, for his kind does not need a pistol to kill, and I shot him in the head.

 Testimony of Wyatt Earp, Tombstone Epitaph 1881


We’ve been warned about magic since the days of Adam. Wizards from Canaan and Babylon were always there to lead man astray. Why should now be any different? What if what we’re seeing in these times is a quickening of mankind, tempting us to stray one last time before the last days? This is nothing new. The serpent has just got himself a fancy new suit. Join with me, brethren, and demand that Washington round up these heathen wizards once and for all!

D.W. Griffith At the first screening of his blockbuster film The Death of a Nation, 1918


The Imperials have a war cry. Tennoheika Banzai. It means something about the emperor ruling for ten thousand years. The emperor is a puppet, but the soldiers meant it when they bellowed it at the tops of their lungs. Their Actives would often charge numerically superior, entrenched positions, with complete disregard for their own lives, confident in the rightness of their cause. Banzai!  

Captain John J. Pershing Army Observation Report on the taking of Vladivostok 1905


I must tell you, Kermit, of these three particularly remarkable Heavies amongst the volunteers. They come from brave stock, as their father had been with me during the advance on Kettle Hill. Though all three are exceedingly similar physical specimens, these Sullivan brothers could not be of more disparate temperaments. One is a simpleton, with the gentle soul of a child, yet a more diligent soldier you could not ask for. One is a killer of men, a force of calculated belligerence, I fear he is only obedient to his officers because a discharge would jeopardize his opportunity to murder more Huns. The last is a thoughtful young man, the quietest of the three. He shows great promise as a leader. Never before, in all my years of campaigning, have I come across such stalwart troops. I tell you, son, the three are a terror to behold in battle, and if I had a thousand more Sullivans, this war would already be won. 

General Theodore Roosevelt, personal correspondence posted before second battle of the Somme 1918


We have tried everything. Bullets bounce off. Bombs thrown under his carriage have turned it to splinters and killed the horses, but don’t so much as muss the Chairman’s hair.  He does not sleep so we can’t sneak up on him. He does not eat so we can’t poison him. We’ve tried fire, ice, lightning, death magic, crushing gravity, bone shards, blood curses, all without effect. Decapitation might work, if you could come up with a blade sharp enough, but the finest steel simply dulls against his skin.  Even if you were to wield this modern Excalibur the problem then would be that you can only touch Tokugawa if he lets you. He is all knowing, all seeing, moves faster than the wind, and can Travel in the blink of an eye. You don’t touch the Chairman. The Chairman touches you, and as far as we’ve observed, that only happens when he’s ripping the very soul from your body.

Frank Baum, knight of the Grimnoir, testimony to the elders’ council, 1911


I swear before my God and these witnesses that I will stay true to the right and good, that my magic will be used to protect, not to enslave, that all my strength and wisdom must always shield the innocent. I swear to fight for liberty though it cost my life. The Society will be my blood and its knights my brothers, and that I will always heed the wisdom of the elders’ council. I willingly pledge my magic, my knowledge, my resources, and my life to uphold these things.

Oath of the Grimnoir Society, original date unknown



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14 thoughts on “All the Grimnoir Quotes”

  1. I really like these. I think they’re great for making the story more believable. Also, unless I counted wrong, 29 quotes mean 29 chapters, right? So how does HM compare in length to MHI?

  2. There are actually 30 chapters, but one was kept out because of the massive spoiler contained therin. 🙂

    MHI was 196,000 words. HM is about 155,000. So it will be in the 500 page range.

  3. woo hoo! by the quotes this book sounds awesome!

    can’t wait to read it 🙂

    alt history often seems to be a good way to strike up interest in our history – if events fell out this & so as fiction with a particular set of consequences; then how did it happen here in non-fiction land?

  4. I figure now is a good time to ask a question I’ve been rolling around in my head. And I think you would be a good person to ask considering the research you must have been doing for HM.

    What kind of gun safety rules/customs/guidelines did people have in times past? I suppose they must have had more or less the same rules as today, give or take a few steps considering the extra steps in loading and fireing, but how did they codify them?

    “Rule the first. Suffer not that thy digits should enter the guard of thy firelock, save that ye be sure of thy mark and that which lay betwixt thy firearme and behind that target.”

    1. It has been documented that weapons safety rules were kept in writing as far back as King Aurther’s time. This is evidenced by Brother Maynord’s assistant reading from the “Book of Armaments”. And I quote,

      “And the Lord spake, saying, ‘First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. Once the number three, being the third number, be reached, then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it.’ “

  5. Great quotes . . . they really make the book sound awesome.

    By the way, it looks like the Sullivan parole hearing quote and the San Francisco Enquirer quote are both put in twice. Was that intentional?

  6. Cameron, no, that was a mistake. I’ll go fix it.

    A.G. it is interesting, but they were actually a lot looser on the safety rules, though it balanced out because the average exposure was much higher. There was a pretty general familiarity.

    The 4 rules as we knew them were used by many people, but they weren’t codified.

  7. Yep … the old timers did things with firearms that would make your hair stand on end.

    Familiarity does breed contempt, unfortunately.

  8. Larry I have to put in 2 ideas for ideas your books could use more of. Kilts and Gurkhas. Not necessarily together but still… 🙂

  9. I will say I was a bit hesitant about whether or not this would be any good.

    A couple Magic/fantasy books I read I just was put off by the flimsiness of the setting and background.

    I shoulda known better having read MHI.

    GC is on my to-buy list….Now go prod, poke, shoot Baen into releasing it…..

  10. Larry, this is fantastic stuff! Wow! I clicked the link to your blog today — as I often do — and immediately got sucked into this post. Great material, and makes me excited for the book. Well done!

  11. Okay guys, I don’t do this to brag, but The Grimnoir Chronicles is awesome on a cosmic scale. Metric assloads of coolness. It’s too bad that it’s going to take that long to hit the shelves, but it will be worth it.

    If you’ve ever wanted Saint John* to be characterized into a novel — and so accurately it’ll give you chills — then this is the book for you.

    This book makes you feel like you’re on vacation — in the thirties. And to top it all off, the guns and gun handling are correct. Can’t beat that.

    There are some cool things coming down the pike…


    *John Moses Browning, you heathens!

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