Book Review: The Hunger of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne

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Title: The Hunger of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #2)

Author: John Gwynne

Release date: April 12th, 2022

Firstly – my sincerest apologies to Mr. Gwynne, Orbit and Netgalley. I was approved for this book prior to publication and, while I was reading ‘The Shadow of the Gods’ which was Book 1 in this series. Much to my chagrin, life happened, and I was slowed down in my reading time and availability. Thus, here we are, a month and a week post release day and I’ve just finished reading it. So, I wanted to say sorry.

For those unfamiliar, I enjoy reading fantasy occasionally. More when something ticks certain boxes. One thing that has created a bit of a negative or hesitancy for me, is the fact that two of the fantasy series I love the most are still unfinished (looking squarely at you Martin and Rothfuss) and thus, when a series begins, I’ll often hold off to see if I want to devote that much time and energy to something that may never be complete. With this one, I couldn’t resist, and from recent social media postings, it looks like Gwynne has begun the process of working on Book 3.

This one picks up after the events of Book 1 and continues the stories of those characters we’ve grown to love or hate.

What I liked: Look, the reality is A LOT of stuff happens in these books. These are Sagas after all. We start at Point A and end at Point Z and a significant amount of events occur at each point along the way. This is sprawling, cinematic, engaging storytelling. But at its heart is the fear of what’s to come. In Book 2, three Gods have now been resurrected, returning to the world (which has greatly changed since their deaths) and wanting to go back to their perceived perch atop the pecking order.

But that is not to be and as power changes hands and clashes continue to occur, we see characters make moves to get to their end goal.

The character I think many seem to gravitate towards the most is Orka Skullsplitter, who is on her quest to find her son Breca and reunite with him. Every decision she makes and every ramification that happens is based solely on moving herself that much closer to tracking him down and it is painful and brutal to watch. But watch we do and we hold our breath the entire time.

One last thing I’ll mention, is that this one goes into a full-on, borderline Kaiju rumble in the final act. We get Gods battling, beasts braying and enough blood splattering to watch a city be decimated and characters get crushed and chomped throughout. Gwynne’s writing really shines in these moments, describing every millisecond of action with purpose and pristine prose.

The ending was great and sets us up for big things in Book 3. I’m excited to see what happens and how these storylines that came ever-so-close to merging at the ending of Book 2 culminate in the finale.

What I didn’t like: Even though I read Book 1 and 2 back-to-back, I still found a lot of the characters with similar names to be borderline confusing, especially as each chapter goes to a different characters. Skalk and Skuld etc etc, a lot of names starting with G! Part of it is definitely me as a reader not tracking it along mentally like I should, but when you read an epic like this, it can become a bit much! And fair point in return – it can’t change now! We’re heading into Book 3!

Why you should buy this: I said this in my review of Book 1, but this is brutal fantasy done right. We don’t have thousands of words dedicated to describing meals and food preparation and (I may be in the minority here) we don’t get endless story devoted to who is sleeping with who. I find with some fantasy novels this can often be the main driving narrative and it can become tiresome, and no this wasn’t a dig at Martin’s offering.

Gwynne has created some truly memorable characters here, some who’ll live long in my head when the final page is closed. The landscape is palpable, the stench of blood and waste carried from my Kindle into my nostrils and yet, I can’t wait to return to this world. Kudos to Gwynne, this series and this book are second to none.

5/5

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