Flight of the Godkin Griffin: Being the Adventures
of Angharad Godkin of the Sunblood Cliffs
Many of you are familiar with LiveJournal, a sort of online diary
that you can share with friends or strangers. Take that concept, and
apply it to someone who happens to live in another world. That's basically
what a fictional LiveJournal is, a frequently-updated periodical which
chronicles the daily life of its main character(s) in small installments.
I've decided to start reviewing them, because some of these gems outclass
the cartons of books I'm getting from Big Name Publishers.
My favorite is Flight of the Godkin Griffin. Begin with the
setting, which functions almost as a character in its own right, for
the story involves a kingdom trying to subdue a province where the land
has a mind of its own. In the wider Godkindred Kingdom, anthropomorphic
races crossbreed as often as possible; this leads to intelligence, beauty,
and (they believe) eventually divinity. Breeding within the same species
leads towards beastiality -- or so common wisdom says. The people of
Shraeven Province prefer to breed true, and it puts them at odds with
the rest of the kingdom. The rumors of Shraeven's magic may be just
that, rumors, or something more.
Enter Angharad, a griffin like you've never seen before; her ancestors
include crane, phoenix, ringtail cat, and (shh! she doesn't talk about
this one much) coatl. Having led her troops to victory many times, Angharad
was ready to retire from the army, but her kingdom wasn't done with
her. Now she finds herself packed off to Shraeven with orders to maintain
the uneasy peace there, and most importantly, turn up the heat on the
melting pot enough to make this province a normal part of the Godkindred
Kingdom. Angharad isn't sure that's ethical, or even possible, but she
aims to find an honorable solution.
With Angharad comes a unit of soldiers under her command, some of
whom work well together, others falling prey to their own prejudices.
But this Mistress Commander has a knack for finding good personnel --
like the inexperienced but loyal Captain Donal; the ferocious Captain
Silfia, who leads the cavalry and doesn't mind including the kind of
beastial "mongrel" soldiers that unnerve everyone else; the studly yet
amazingly competent Magwen, Angharad's new steward; and Ragna, a mysterious
local guide. Together they get into, and mostly out of, all sorts of
trouble ... and as of this writing, they haven't even arrived
in the capital where Angharad is supposed to take over as governor.
New installments to this story arrive two to five times weekly.
The really fascinating thing about Flight of the Godkin Griffin
is that the audience drives the action. Each installment ends
with one or more polls, in which you get to vote on what happens next.
Anyone can read the story, but only paying patrons can vote. Readers
get the voting privilege by making a donation to the author. How much
is a terrific story worth to you -- a dollar, five dollars, more? $1
and up lets you vote; as a patron, you get to help write the story,
encouraging the author and characters to spend more time on your favorite
This is a serial, a work-in-progress. "Part 1: The Will of the Godson"
is archived on the Godkin Website. "Part 2: The Phoenix Flies Over the
Mount" is unfolding on LiveJournal right now. The story is sufficiently
well-written that you could jump into the middle of it, but I
recommend that you go back and start at the beginning. The continuity
of character development gives this tale much of its charm, and is best
appreciated in order.
Fair warning: fictional LiveJournals are as all-absorbing as the nonfiction
ones. The best of these ... well, you know the kind of book you can't
put down? Imagine it arriving a few pages at a time, each morning, while
you have to keep your hands off it so you can work. Flight of the
Godkin Griffin is sufficiently addictive that each weekend brings
pangs of withdrawal. Most highly recommended.
Review by Elizabeth Barrette.