TL;DR version: if you need a solid, well designed, decorated and illustrated traditional-fantasy world to build your campaigns, write novels or to hack and tailor to your needs, BUY THIS BOOK. (No one single rule has been harmed during book writing, so you can use it with your favorite fantasy game with no effort)
Long version: it's a while that I thinker with the idea of building my own world to accommodate a great campaign of Fantasy Dice. While "Crimson Exodus" depicts a great world, full of interesting things to do, I don't like each and every aspect of the setting: too gloomy and magic is far too disconnected from the world, there is a lot of details about its mechanic but it's not clear "how it works" and from where it comes.
Enters Keranak Kingdoms. I bought this book as a source for my own work, since it had very good ratings and reviews, with the idea of using it as a mere blueprint on "how to depict a world in broad lines". But after having read it I'm really in doubt. I'd like to have two days a day so that I can run two games, one on Kernanak, the other on my homebrewed setting.
As for the content, I think this bulleted list can give you an idea if this is good for you:
- Every setting has a "bottom line": what's peculiar here? Here you are: "The kingdom, comprising all the known world, was founded by the gods and given to a single, gifted bloodline. The lask king died with no heir. The kingdom is still there, governed by the aging queen, but soon it will need a new king... or eventually fall apart." As dull as it seems, this creates a great scenario for mature adventures: will you take part in defending the kingdom? Will you reclaim your province and advocate secession? Will you try to be king? Exciting :)
- This is a well designed but very "standard" fantasy settings: it has human, dwarves, elfs and halflings (which really behaves like hobbits). When it comes to races, Tolkien is lurking pretty everywhere, from races characterization to idividual names, BUT this is not a mere clone. Starting from classic taste they evolved with good ideas and great characters, so the result is something "familiar but new". "New" don't get in the way here, you won't find anything "strange". Just a deeper characterization compared to other pretty silly settings (next bullet).
- Cultures are very well-designed: not just races but also location and local history contribute to form a culture. So we'll got stout dwarves, as always, but not all are "blindly" grumpy or fierce, it depends from where they grew, in which culture, etc. Elves in particular are interesting as both PCs and NPCs, divided in separated clans which developed pretty different cultures and histories.
- There is room for all, but it's not a kitchen sink. Mountains and oceans are the evergreen solution when it comes to create separation between what's "home" and what's "exotic", but the setting always have to adopt a geographical/cultural point of views to pinpoint "home" concept. Here home is the Keranak province, the heart of the kingdom. Far away provinces or territories used to be part of the kingdom, but retained their aura of mystery and unfamiliarity to common people. This creates a world full of different cultures and places but not messy like FR or similar.
- All is readable by your players: this handbook depicts all that a knowledgable keranakian commoner can know about the world. No more info is given. GM can decide what's real, what's legend, how things work, etc. It's hard to find something so detailed and so tailorable at the same time.
- Little but dense boxes are scattered around and labeled "Dungeon master advices". You could also let your players read them: they offer some ideas worth developing for GMs but more in form of questions: "what happened in this region? Why X and Y are fighting? Maybe thay know something valuable is hidden there and there?"
Actually I'd argue that making your players read that boxes will help you disseminating your campaign with red-harrings :D
Summing all up, the product is worth all the money it costs, and more.
Five stars :)