James Nicoll Reviews

Home > Reviews > Post

Destiny of Self

The Great Gods  (Time Wars, volume 1)

By Daniel Keys Moran 

27 Apr, 2023

Special Requests


Support me with a Patreon monthly subscription!

2023’s The Great Gods is the first book in Daniel Keys Moran’s The Time Wars series. It shares a setting with such works as Emerald Eyes, The Long Run, The Last Dancer, and The Big Boost.

Camber Tremodian is a bright young boy connected to one of best families on the planet Domain. Domain has political institutions that should encourage peace, order, and good government. But in practice, politics has become a high stakes game and Camber is marked for death.

Domain is inhabited by two types of humans, slow and fast. Slow humans are only as bright as the humans of our present day; fast humans are much brighter. Obviously they should rule. But how? Dictatorship by quasi-immortal new-model fast humans was deemed unacceptable for various reasons [1]. Instead, the ruler of the planet is selected by an AI, the Board; its judgement should have been infallible.

The ascension of Sander Wu to the Emerald Throne and the comparatively brief but memorable regime that followed suggests that the Board is broken, or perhaps subverted, or even hostile to humans. Someone should fix that!

During Wu’s rule, Camber’s parents left Domain for adventures elsewhere. They are at present not alive (death can be a temporary condition). Camber survived, and after being passed from guardian to guardian, was raised by his great-great-grandfather Kess.

Although Camber’s mentors try to keep him hidden, Camber’s parentage gives him a chance at the rulership. If rival families knew that he existed, they would have him killed. Additionally, a gene scan suggests that he has qualities that make him even more likely to be raised to the throne. Which would be even more reason to kill him.

Camber has narrowly survived several assassination attempts. Camber and his guardians need allies and put out feelers to the fabled House of November. A trip to the House is planned. It will be a very dangerous trip.


Having used computers, I was not surprised that an infallible AI went off the rails. I was even less surprised to discover that there is little evidence that the so-called fast humans are in any way superior to our sort of old-style slow humans, because it’s hard to imagine the thought processes of a superior being. The politics of Domain remind me of old-style dynastic politics, the sort of politics that proceeds by plotting, betrayal, assassinations, and other such fun stuff.

There isn’t a lot of plot in this book and what there is is pretty linear: Camber picked the wrong parents and their enemies want him dead. Being the hero of an ongoing space opera series, Camber is reasonably assured of surviving sundry assassination attempts. It helps that the title of the series isn’t a metaphor: god-level entities abound. They can and do intervene in the plot.

What this novel lacks in plot it has in detailed setting. Many decades ago, a youthful Daniel Keys Moran had ambitious plans for a lengthy and detailed series. Various events intervened. However, it’s pretty clear that Moran kept his notes (may have been adding to them over the years) and is now ready to take up where he left off.

The comparison that came to mind regarding Moran’s earlier books and this one is the difference between Runequest, 2nd Edition and Runequest: Roleplaying in Glorantha or rather the difference in their support materials. RQ2 sourcebooks tended to be compact: Cults of Prax is 120 pages. RQG sourcebooks can be intimidating: the Guide to Glorantha is a two-volume, 800-page tome and the upcoming Gods of Glorantha sourcebook series will be ten imposing volumes.

Similarly, Moran has a vast and detailed background he is determined to convey to the reader. The book itself is not long but it has an amazing quantity of infodumping given its brevity. Not my thing, but it may be yours.

The Great Gods is available here (Amazon US), here (Amazon Canada), and here (Amazon UK). I did not find The Great Gods at Barnes & Noble, poor doomed Book Depository, or at Chapters-Indigo.

1: The best immortal for the job didn’t want it.