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Glorantha Book Club


Crel

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A novel I read recently, which other Glorantha fans may enjoy: The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu. It's a secondary world fantasy set in the archipelago of Dara, inspired by tales from the Han Dynasty of China, with additional elements from Polynesia/Oceania. The story is a sprawling epic focused on a warrior and a trickster.

It's fairly low-magic, especially compared to Glorantha. The term "silkpunk" has been used; wuxia warriors, grand airships, and Imperial bureaucracies make it a good fit. I think the book's focus on the importance of stories, and how the gods subtly (or sometimes not-so-subtly) shape the world of Dara, will make Glorantha fans feel right at home.

I've recently started the sequel, The Wall of Storms. An early myth in the book, about how the years got their totem animals, is what inspired me to share the series.

Oh, and there's straight-up a heroquest at one point. I won't say more, for fear of spoilers.

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3 hours ago, Crel said:

A novel I read recently, which other Glorantha fans may enjoy: The Grace of Kings, by Ken Liu

I've read the first, and enjoyed it.  Haven't gotten around to the second yet, but the first had a lot of cool ideas.

 

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12 hours ago, jajagappa said:

I've read the first, and enjoyed it.  Haven't gotten around to the second yet, but the first had a lot of cool ideas.

 

So far, I'm enjoying it. Liu's continued use of summarization to focus on the broad strokes of years, rather than moment-by-moment details, drives a quick pace. 

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A movie night annex: 

Himiko (1971)

Freak Orlando (1981)

Fehérlófia/Son of the White Mare (1981)

Three separate movies with three separate takes on how mythology interacts with the modern, all absolutely fascinating visually. The last is the most conventional narratively, and features monsters that are amorphous amalgamations of military hardware, or rolling cityscapes with faces forming in the lights on skyscrapers. 

Insights into/correspondences with Gloranthan cultures:

Himiko: Urban Solar

Freak Orlando: Lunar

Fehérlófia: Horse Solar

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Found a couple of freebies for Himiko and Fehérlófia, but could not find a full movie for Freak Orlando. These two are odd,  but they are travel to the “other world”  so should be. Thanks Eff, I will be watching these in the next couple of days!

 

himiko movie 1974
A freestyle, imagined telling of the life of shaman queen Himiko, who falls in love with her half-brother, making her powers weaken thus putting her position to risk.

 

Fehérlófia/Son of the White Mare (1981)

One of the great psychedelic masterpieces of world animation, SON OF THE WHITE MARE is a swirling, color-mad maelstrom of mythic monsters and Scythian heroes, part-Nibelungenlied, part-Yellow Submarine, lit by jagged bolts of lightning and drenched in rivers of blue, red, gold and green. A massive cosmic oak stands at the gates of the Underworld, holding seventy-seven dragons in its roots; to combat these monsters, a dazzling white mare goddess gives birth to three heroes - Treeshaker and his brothers - who embark on an epic journey to save the universe. Directed by Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics (famed for his 1974 Oscar-nominated short Sisyphus), Son of the White Mare has been restored in 4K using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements by Arbelos in collaboration with the Hungarian National Film Institute

- Film Archive.

https://archive.org/details/son-of-the-white-mare-feherlofia-1981-hungarian-film-english-sub-k-vzkl-4-b-9slvf

 

 

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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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I've finished the sequel, The Wall of Storms, and it's also good. If you like the first, I think you'll like the second too.

For Glorantha fans in particular, it continues to play with some cool stuff in the setting's mythology. I don't want to spoil too much (although it's not really a major plot element), but basically exploring the relationship between the gods and their worshipers, and how each impacts and perceives one another. There's some potential God Learner takeaways.

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Nonfiction this time, which to be fair is most of what I read nowadays. If sharing my reading list seems interesting, I'll continue doing it - if not, I probably won't bother.

I recently finished re-reading Walter Burkert's Greek Religion. To my understanding, this is one of the "core texts" for the study of Classical religion. When I was in college I mostly studied language and philosophy - I didn't get to Classical culture and history until I began reading on my own - but I think Burkert was the text assigned for the Greek Religion course.

Why the Greeks? Isn't Glorantha "Bronze Age?" Well, nominally. Beyond my personal fascination with the Classical period, I feel Greek Religion is relevant for Glorantha nerds because the most important element of Gloranthan religion remains present: the omnipresence of the divine. Further, I find studying the Greeks helpful because we just know so much more about them. More texts survived, than from the "proper" Bronze Age religions of the Near East.

For me, the most useful takeaway of this re-read was the notion of "civic religion" in the Classical period. Burkert does a good job emphasizing how varied the typical Greek's worship was. It's a polytheistic nuance which I think is often skipped over in Glorantha, because our roleplaying characters generally have fierce dedication to one or two deities. Refusing to worship the city's gods - refusing to be a lay member, basically - wasn't just a religious matter. It was a political matter, too.

Currently, I've been working on the city-cult of my Esrolia project, and I found thinking about "civic religion" this way helpful. Creating a distinction between "city gods" and "foreign gods," and then exploring how they interact. I like using Greek elements in Esrolia because I see them both as feeling like sophisticated urban cultures, with the city at the heart of life. Of course, this parallel also works for the ancient cities along the Tigris and Euphrates, with their tutelary city-gods, and constant squabbling amongst one another for dominance.

I'm not sure I can recommend Burkert to the average Glorantha fan. I find the plethora of details in his book inspiring, because it excites my mind's generation of Glorantha details. How are sacrifices made, and why? What do city festivals look like? How does traditional ritual and current myth/belief intersect? And so on. But, if you're not somewhat familiar with Classical literature already, I think this book would be more confusing than helpful. Burkert makes pretty regular reference to the historians, the philosophers, and the playwrights, without necessarily using supporting summary. The book's accessible for the history enthusiast, but I bet it'd be a frustrating read if you're not familiar with the works of Herodotus or Plato.

TLDR: Greek Religion is useful for My Glorantha, because it provides accessible details of actual ancient religious practices which often aren't available for older civilizations.

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And let's not forget some 'inspirational classics'...

- Soldier of the Mists, Gene Wolfe

- The Silmarillion, JRR Tolkien Jr. [Numenor = Jrustela]

- The Ten Thousand, MC Ford

- First Man In Rome, M. McCullough

- Stonehenge, B. Cornwall

- Pllars of the Earth, K. Follett

und so weiter...

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1 hour ago, Crel said:

TLDR: Greek Religion is useful for My Glorantha, because it provides accessible details of actual ancient religious practices which often aren't available for older civilizations.

I might look this one up for my pseudo Atlantis campaign for my nieces.

I have some good generalized gaming sources [Trojan War by AGE and GURPS Classical Greece] but something a bit more specific might not hurt in my portrayal of the Olympians. Hopefully something a little less dense than Edith Hamilton.

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39 minutes ago, svensson said:

Hopefully something a little less dense than Edith Hamilton.

It's been a while since I've skimmed my copy of Hamilton's Mythology, but I'd reckon Burkert's more dense, not less. It's a book of history, not mythology. There's loads of good stuff, but like I said above, I wouldn't call it "accessible." Maybe a good translation of Hesiod?

(And if someone has a verse translation you'd recommend, could you let me know? 😄)

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