Nov 21

A GM Reads: The Ice Schooner


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.


As the end of the year approaches and the building work rumbles onwards, my backlog of titles has grown again. The next book under the spotlight is The Ice Schooner, by Michael Moorcock. The Good Reads site describes the book like this:


Ice odyssey. The world lay frozen under a thousand feet of ice – and only in the Eight Cities of the Matto Grosso did men still live, hunting the wary ice whales for meat and oil, following the creed of the Ice Mother which foretold the end of all life in ultimate cold.


Read more about The Ice Schooner at Good Reads


This was another book I stumbled upon in the superb second-hand bookshop at Blickling Hall. I was excited to find a 1974 edition of a Michael Moorcock novel I had not previously encountered. The Ice Schooner is not really part of the standard Eternal Champion novels, making it even more interesting to a long-standing fan. This relatively short book cantered along at a good pace. The ending was a little disappointing, but I enjoyed the characters and the setting.


Moorcock’s Eternal Champion was an inspiration for my Eternal Heroes essay



For the GM

The biggest asset in this book for a GM is the icy setting. Moorcock provides rough details about the religion and culture of the Matto Grosso. Much of this reminded me of a fantasy take on Moby Dick, given the culture’s reliance upon hunting land whales. We also visit one of the Eight Cities, which huddles deep in a chasm. Here is a superb contrast to the more predictable “northern ice barbarians” of classic fantasy.


Also of note is the ice schooner of the title. This is a majestic sailing ship which races across the ice on skis. Many of the hazards found on the voyage to New York threaten this beautiful vessel. I have run a ship-based story arc, so I can see the appeal. Using an ice schooner would give your campaign a very distinct tone.



Happy Reading



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