Book Review: Gloranthan Visions & The Complete Griselda

Gloranthanby Michael D. Pederson

 

Gloranthan Visions: Insights Into Glorantha
Phyllis Ann Karr, John Boyle, Oliver Dickinson, Greg Stafford
Issaries, Inc., 110 pp.

The Complete Griselda
Oliver Dickinson
Issaries, Inc., 223 pp.

Also in the mailbag this month are two fantasy adventures from Issaries, Inc. Both books—Gloranthan Visions: Insights Into Glorantha and The Complete Griselda—are short story collections set in the world of Glorantha, from the RuneQuest/Hero Wars game system. Having written gaming-based fiction myself, I can tell you that it is a challenge to capture the spontaneous energy that a role-playing game can generate (in my opinion, the best RPG inspired fiction is still CompleteGriseldathe Wild Cards series, edited by George R.R. Martin). As can be expected, the stories are very hit-or-miss. Gloranthan Visions is a mix of fantasy adventure and stories of Gloranthan mythology. Of the fiction, I found John Boyle’s “The Road of Kings” to be the stand-out story of the collection. Set in an out-of-the-way village during an age of political instability, Boyle creates simple yet believable characters that must deal with greater-than-normal problems—the classic recipe for a great hero. Unfortunately, this story is primarily establishing the hero for further adventures; adventures that aren’t in this collection. Also in this collection are Greg Stafford’s short myths. Written in a style reminiscent of Native American mythology but dealing with subjects that would be more at home in Norse mythology, Stafford has created a cultural foundation for the fictional realm of Glorantha that has a genuine feel of authenticity about it.

The stories in The Complete Griselda all focus on the life of Griselda, red-headed adventuress from the town of Pavis. Again, the stories here are fairly uneven. Written from the point-of-view of Olaf Dickin’s-son, storyteller and tavern regular, the Griselda stories range from simple humorous anecdotes to epic adventures. Dickinson has been writing these stories for twenty years now and the more recent ones show a much better sense of plotting and character than the earlier ones. If you’re a RuneQuest/Hero Wars gamer then these books are must-reads, otherwise, unless you’re a true hardcore fantasy reader, they probably aren’t your cup of tea.

 

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