Reviewed date: 2022 May 23
This is not a good book. It's set on an earth in a parallel universe, an earth where magic is a reality. The story is part epic myth, part Lovecraftian horror.
The alternate earth is Annwn, which is linked to our earth by means of magic gates. (Blah blah blah powerful alien entities controlling the gates so passage is extremely limited. The specifics are not important.) The people of Annwn live on one continent, and have a civilization at approximately the early 19th century. That is, they have industry, gunpowder, rifles, cannons, etc., but most warfare is still fought hand-to-hand by infantry and cavalry. Importantly, they do not have rapid-fire machine guns.
Cythraul and the Gogs
Elsewhere on Annwn live the Gogs. They're monsters. The Gogs worship an ancient god named Cythraul, who they are attempting to resurrect by offering sacrifices. (Human, mostly.) Fortunately the Gogs are on a continent separated from the humans by fifty miles of water and patrolled by a strong navy. Unfortunately, as our story opens a cold winter freezes the ocean and hordes of Gogs swarm across and attack human cities. The people are caught off guard; they were prepared to defend against Gog raids, but these Gogs have an army with cavalry and rifles and cannons.
Major F. Woodrow Churchward, from the United States, has found his way to Annwn and is trying to get someone interested in a Gattling gun. He only brought one to Annwn--luggage is limited when traveling between worlds--so he needs to get the army interested enough to begin manufacturing their own Gattling guns in Annwn. Churchward has had little luck until he runs into Dylan MacBride.
Dylan has spent time abroad in Gog country, and he's trying to raise the alarm and let people know that the Gogs have a modern (for Annwn) army and are about to invade. Dylan manages to almost get himself killed by assassins from the Basham company (which is secretly arming the Gogs) and is rescued by Churchward. They become friends, and Dylan sees that the Gattling gun is just what is needed to stop the Gogs.
Alice and Noel Bran ap Lynn
There is also the Lady Alice Bran ap Lynn, and her brother Noel Bran ap Lynn. Alice is teased as a potential love interest for Dylan, but it's not to be. Her brother Noel is in the military and he helps Dylan and Churchward get the Gattling gun into production.
Keridwen and Clarinda MacTague
It's too late, though. They've only produced three copies of the Gattling gun when the Gogs arrive in force, and it's not enough to turn the tide of the war. This is where magic comes in.
See, Dylan is told to go look up the prophetess of Keridwen. So he traipses down under the city and meets the prophetess, Clarinda MacTague. There's a vision or something, the upshot of which is that both Dylan and Clarinda must travel to Basham and get sacrificed to Cythraul. That's the only way to defeat the Gogs. Naturally both of them have no wish to give up their lives, so they delay as long as possible. Eventually, though, it's clear all is lost: the Gogs cannot be stopped and they will destroy all human life. So Dylan and Clarinda go.
They make the journey on an airship. Airships are not common but they do exist, so in that respect I guess Annwn is a little ahead of early 19th century earth. Go Annwn. Anyway, there's some stuff at the end, I can't remember exactly, but Dylan and Clarinda are captured and offered as sacrifices to Cythraul, but of course they escape at the last minute. And they defeat Cythraul, and in his final dying act Cythraul telepathically commands all the Gogs to return to him and die with him. OK then.
Oh, I think Kar Kaballa was the Gog general or something. He was a Gog bigshot. Not sure why the book is named after him though.
Churchward named his original Gattling gun Chauncey Depew.
I didn't like it.
This book just didn't do it for me.