Friday 12 December 2014

Gaming Inspiration: Godless World Trilogy

I really liked the underrated "Monarchies of God" series by Stephen Kearney. Not only are they a good read, the world of conquistadors-crusades-and-werewolves is very inspiring for gaming (and in fact got me collecting 70YW/ECW minis).

Another series which flies under the radar is Brian Ruckley's Godless World series. 

The first book, Winterbirth starts with a heroic, outnumbered rearguard sacrificing themselves to allow their women and children to escape.  They are religious refugees - followers of the "Black Road" - but will return hundreds of years later to be the antagonists of the story.

The story is set in a rather grim, realistic dark age world.  The "Thanes" rule the "Bloods" or clans who have a Saxon-ish flavour.  The Krynnin are basically cut-and-paste American Indians/elves/forest folk.  I'm thinking Perry/Warlord American Indians to face off against my Gripping Beast Saxon plastics.

I initially found the names of the different clans of Haigs/Bloods annoyingly confusing as many sound similar, and there are quite a few of them.  The overarching plot is not too complex, however - basically, the "Black Road" refugees from the prologue return to get revenge, aided by a mentally-unstable half-elf/Indian mystic. The "good guys" hold the fortresses and technically outnumber them but spend a lot of time squabbling and plotting against each other, and thus mostly get their butts kicked by the numerically inferior but elite Black Road warriors and their "not-Indian" Kyrnnin allies. 

Magic is rare. Only half-breed na'kyrim can practice magic, and it tends towards the "realistic" such as sensing and communicating with other magic users and sensing lies or - in the more extreme cases - compelling others.  No fireballs or dragons here.

The main issue I had with the books was the main character/hero was rather bland and I was indifferent to his fate - I actually found myself more interested in the bad-guy "invaders" - there was quite a few "shades of grey" and they had more interesting characters and motivations.  

I've been impressed with Warlord Games - they may be attempting to become the GW-style Evil Empire of historicals, and their kiddy-style Bolt Action rules make me go "bleargh"- but their pricing and postage is good (free if over $100 worth which is great if you're an Aussie like me), and they source a wide range of plastics.  I've bought a lot off them lately.

Recommend:  Yes, with some caveats.  It's a well-written, solid series.  However, the names can be a bit confusing at first, and main character's storyline can drag a bit. You'll probably enjoy it if you like fantasy leaved with realism - in fact it has more in common with historical fiction than much traditional fantasy. Quite a hefty series - 3 x 500-page books (Winterbirth, Bloodheir, Fall of Thanes)- so not so much for casual readers.  The relatively small-scale nature of the battles and the Saxons vs Indians means it would make for interesting gaming, with very accessible miniatures. 


  1. Sounds right up my alley - to Amazon I go! Thanks for the tip!

    1. Do bear in mind this one is "slower" than my other recommendations. It's underrated, but not exceptional. I'd probably rate it a "3" but for its Indians vs Saxons gaming potential.