My revised reading challenge for 2017 is to focus on what a GM can take from the books I read. I lift out characters, events, creatures, plots or themes from each book. As a GM, you still need to read the book to gain the most benefit, but each review brings a few ideas for the GM.
My backlog of titles is shrinking rapidly. The latest book under the spotlight is The Moon of Gomrath, by Alan Garner. The Good Reads site describes the book like this:
The Moon of Gomrath is the name of the one night of the year when the Old Magic is at its most powerful. Had Colin and Susan known this, they would have never obeyed the strange compulsion that drove them to light a fire on the Beacon. But now it is too late–the horsemen called the Wild Hunt are awake and on the ride, and no one is safe.Colin is captured, Susan falls under the sway of the hideous Brollachan, and all along Alderley Edge the forces of evil rally for the conflict to come. For there will be a battle, the likes of which cannot be imagined by mortals. The outcome–and all the hopes of the world–will depend on three unlikely champions: Susan, Colin, and their ally, the wizard Cadellin.
As with my last review, this was another nostalgic book for me. The Moon of Gomrath is the sequel to the amazing Weirdstone of Brisengamen, the first proper fantasy book I remember reading. Before Moorcock, before Tolkien, there was Alan Garner and his book weaving Celtic legend and modern adventure.
Thus, I was very excited to track down a second-hand copy of The Moon of Gomrath in a National Trust bookshop. Even better, this edition matches my old copy of Weirdstone from the late 70s. On an initial reading, this was not as memorable as Weirdstone, but then it was competing with the value of nostalgia. Yet, this is still a great story with powerful characters. I look forward to reading it again and savouring the background a little more.
For the GM
Just like The Difference Engine, the greatest value of The Moon of Gomrath to a GM lies in the Appendix. Alan Garner includes a short bibliography and brief notes on the Celtic legends used in the book. These notes are especially useful for a modern fantasy game set in England. Given the strong Celtic foundation in D&D et al, then these notes have a wide appeal.
My highlight from these notes is The Herlathing, the English version of the Wild Hunt summoned as part of the story. This gives the GM a fresh approach to a standard Celtic fantasy trope. The hunters are summoned in turn from a series of burial mounds and described in detail in the text. I will definitely be adopting this version of the Wild Hunt into my setting.
- The previous GM Reads was The Grognard Files 2017 by The Armchair Adventurers.
- Find more reviews here