Borkin the Archer

This novel is a bit hard to classify. It isn't typical science fiction, since the most advanced technology is primitive gunpowder weapons, telescopes and sailing ships with fore-and-aft rigs. It isn't fantasy, since there's no trace of sorcery, dragons or anything else usually associated with fantasy. It isn't a historical novel, since not only the characters and events but the planet on which they take place are all imaginary. Neither does it fit into any other category.

However, I call it science fiction anyway. There is an explanation for how humans wound up on that planet, though this doesn't get mentioned until more than halfway through the book. The most appropriate description might be that on the title page:

A novel of renaissance-style warfare in a remote part of the multiverse.

Here's a blurb:

Borkin Krauk, a young longbowman on the planet Ernall, enlists as a mercenary to fight for religious freedom. Over a period of eleven years he fights in three wars. In time, he learns that it is less clear than he thought who are the good guys and who the bad ones.

A strange event catapults him into a position of great political influence. But how far does his power extend, and how can he use it to further conflicting ideals?

The book may be of special interest to wargamers, since it describes about a dozen battles on both land and sea. But it also gives the reader a glimpse of an era of discoveries and intellectual ferment. 9 appendices give additional information for readers who want to know more about Ernall.

The book has been published by BoD (Books on Demand) both in print and as an e-book. The total number of pages in the print version is 380. The actual narrative covers about 320 pages, and there are 4 maps and 37 pages of appendices.

In the BoD edition, one chapter is missing. This is not a fatal problem, since that chapter is not essential to the story. The only unfortunate consequence is that the continent of Eskasag may seem a bit of a deus ex machina when it is mentioned later. The chapter is provided here. It should follow chapter 121-08-20...21, the chapter in which Balekan and Kylyn Vorzaka appear for the first time.


As of November 2018, a new e-book version, with the above error corrected, is being prepared for Smashwords.

Since including maps in the Smashwords edition has proven problematic, the maps and the accompanying legend are available at the following link:

Maps of Ernall, pdf format

Tables for Borkin

Notes for those who wish to simulate the battles in Borkin the Archer

The first thing to do is to get a suitable board game for the purpose. For the land battles I recommend PRESTAGS (PRE-Seventeenth century TActical Game Series). This was originally published by SPI (Simulation Publications Inc.). That company is now defunct, and the copyright to PRESTAGS is held by Decision Games. I've contacted that company and asked them to reissue PRESTAGS. If you want to simulate the battles in Borkin, I suggest you too write them.

For the naval battles I suggest Wooden Ships and Iron Men, which I'll refer to as WSIM. That also seems to be out of print at present. The current copyright holder seems to be Hasbro. If you live in a country that is subdivided into states or provinces, please contact Hasbro and ask them to reissue WSIM. I am unable to do so, because signing up requires me to specify a state or province and once I've identified my home country as Finland, there's no way to do that.

WSIM has been criticized. Wikipedia says :"The complaints arise primarily because most battles end up with ships entangled and battles being resolved by boarding parties fighting until one ship's crew is eliminated. Such situations rarely occurred in history during this period." This criticism is valid for late 18th century and early 19th century naval battles on Earth, but for reasons described in Borkin (relatively ineffective gunfire) it makes sense that naval battles in Borkin's lifetime would usually end up with boarding.

Battle maps and Orders of Battle, for those who wish to simulate the battles, is being made available below when I have time. So far two battles have been covered.

Battle maps:



PRESTAGS scenario information for land battles