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Flight of the Godkin Griffin: Being the Adventures of Angharad Godkin of the Sunblood Cliffs

by MCA Hogarth

(View this Fictional LiveJournal at: godkin.livejournal.com or for background information, view related site: www.stardancer.org/godkin.)

Five stars.

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 parts.

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.

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