Grimdark Helped Me Survive Four Days in a Japanese Hospital

Getting hospitalized sucks. Getting hospitalized in a foreign country can be ever worse. Not that I was treated badly by any means, but I couldn’t communicate very well and it left me feeling pretty isolated except when my wife was around. I had some kind of intestinal infection last week and it gave me a high fever, vomiting, etc. etc.

With a lack of internet due to my self-imposed decision to be a pseudo-Luddite and not have a smartphone, plus the inability to charge anything, I had a few options to keep myself entertained for the four days of my stay.  I turned to grimdark. Grimdark wouldn’t let me down.

So what occupied my time?

1. The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

Court of Broken Knives

To be honest, I don’t read nearly as many print books as I used to, but Anna sent me The Court of Broken Knives a while back and I had been reading it at bedside when I had the chance. Being in the hospital limited my time with electronics, so having this book was a lifesaver in more ways than one. The story is grimdark at its finest and even throws in some interesting philosophy that kept me turning the pages. Marith is a captivating main character and the supporting cast are equally interesting in their own ways. I particularly liked the random nature of religion and how absolute things were. I’m definitely looking forward to finishing this one and it now has a permanent spot in my heart.

2. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence

Red Sister Audiobook

Audiobooks are almost exclusively how I “read” these days and Red Sister is one of the most remarkable ones I’ve come across. The narration is superb and the story itself is definitely high on my list of current favs. Mark Lawrence got a lot of buzz for Red Sister when it initially came out and I could totally see why. I always enjoy how he slowly unravels his the setting and learning more and more about Nona through backstory has kept me hooked. Another one that I’m going to be listening to more and more in the coming days. In fact, it’s up for discussion on the Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers group right now!

3. Salt and Sanctuary


If you want Dark Souls in your pocket and side-scrolling with the same punishing difficulty and dark, strange world, Salt and Sanctuary will be up your alley. I spent loads of time in hospital dying over and over again which probably didn’t help my healing process. The bosses in this game have the same level of “oh shit” that Dark Souls does, but in a kind of cute way, if that makes sense. I’m actually still playing this game now and I think it’ll continue to have a lot of replay value for me going forward.

4. Aeon’s End

Aeons End

A card game that is actually quite heavy with all the cards in the box, Aeon’s End can be played solitaire, one of the reasons that I wanted it at the hospital with me. It’s a deck-builder, but one that requires a lot of planning to pull off a victory. It’s also one of my current favorite games in my collection. Me and my wife play it a lot and even when we lose it’s still fun. I played this about 4 times in the hospital, once with my wife in the day room, and it kept my spirits up. It has demons, mages, and twisted ass monsters. It also seemed to have a “wow” factor for the nurses. When they saw me playing it they’d say “Sugoi!” (“Wow!”)

5. Splatter Elf writing


Some may know from my shilling now and again, but Splatter Elf is my main world that I write in at the moment. It’s kind of a satire of grimdark in a way with over-the-top violence, crazy monsters, and some of the mundane nature of real life thrown in for extra realism. I’ve almost exclusively shifted my Splatter Elf writing to The Grim Tidings Patreon now (for 5 dollar Patrons!), so I got to spend some time working on stories while in the hospital. I wouldn’t recommend that to be a reason to catch up on writing, but it certainly helped to have very little to do. It wasn’t until the last day I discovered I could turn the TV on. Sure, it would have been Japanese TV, but I did notice myself watching a documentary about sembei that I totally didn’t understand. Before then, I did get some decent writing in.

Overall, grimdark honestly kept me sane in the hospital. If not for my wife and grimdark, I probably would have gotten really down in the dumps. However, I pulled through and I have to place a significant amount of my mental health staying positive on grimdark. Yeah, ironic isn’t it?


2 comments on “Grimdark Helped Me Survive Four Days in a Japanese Hospital

  1. RagnekaiDad says:

    Hope you are back to fighting fitness now! Fantasy, grimdark and otherwise, helps keep me sane in Japan…and I’m talking about daily life here, not hospital. The language and imagery give me a solid connection back to Britain, and gives me the strength to just smile politely and say thank you when someone gasps and compliments my chop-stick skills! Take care of yourself. Regards, Peter


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