The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
by Jesse Bullington (2009)
Medieval graverobbing twins Hegel and Manfried Grossbart return to thier native village somewhere in the Holy Roman Empire and decide to deliver some payback to a farmer who whipped them as children. Luring him out into the rain and dark they proceed to rough him up. Then his wife comes at them with a woodax. One thing leads to another and the brothers end up massacring the farmers entire family (a daughter and a son, and two baby girls) and then taking to the mountains with the intention of heading south to "Gyptland" where they firmly believe thier grandfather went and made his fortune graverobbing. They are pursued into the mountains by a medieval posse which they sucessfully ambush and kill all of but one man (at this point, I thought to myself "this is the most violent book I've ever read!"). Of course, using bizarre-to-modern-morality vendetta-based justice, they firmly believe from the get go that it is THEM who have been wronged.
Encounters with the supernatural, the proper place of Mary in the Christian religion, pope-costumed brigands, hallicinations, the Venetian doge, the ethics of cannibalism, and the Alexandrian crusade all follow, the Grossbarts leaving an ever-widening swath of death and heresy in thier wake.
This is a marvellously researched book, swimming in nice pieces of authenticity. When I was reading this on vacation, several of my brothers-in-law mistook it for non-fiction based on perusing the cover, the opening chapter (a faux-academic intro), and my descriptions.