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

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : Even Better Than The First

Hungerof

Almost a year ago today I posted my review for The Shadow of the Gods.  It was gushing.  TSofGs was an absolutely fantastic start to series, I gave it an unabashed 5* for the absolute joy in reading that it inspired in me.  So, how did The Hunger of the Gods stack up?  It was even better.  I don’t know how that’s possible but there you go – does that mean I rated the first book too highly?  Not at all it simply means that I’m going to have to start adding extra little stars to this series.  Be aware that this review may contain spoilers for book 1 so bear that in mind before reading.

To avoid this review turning into a dissertation I’m going to give only a brief overview of the plot here.  We continue immediately where book 1 left off with the release of a dragon God.  I mean, seriously, people, who would ever have thought that was a good idea?  But, here we are, Lik-Rifa is released and has a vision of a new age wrought in blood.  Meanwhile, Orka remains steadfast in the hunt for her son and has some fearsome company in her quest.  The Bloodsworn have their very own mission with one of their own, Varg, having his own side quest and then we have Elvar and the Battle-grim, determined to win fame and glory and make daring rescues of their own.

I mean, on the face of it, when you spell it all out in that way, it seems like there’s a lot going on here but in actual fact it doesn’t feel overly complicated or busy when you’re reading.  If anything it’s quite the opposite, it just all comes together so very well.  I enjoyed all the switches in storylines and can genuinely say that this is such an exciting read because of that.  There’s a lot of action, battles, politics and squirm-inducing critters but at the same time Gwynne takes the time to weave in the history and lore of the place and develop the characters really successfully as the story moves forward.  The motivations are all so believable and there’s an epic sense of scope, particularly when you look at the Gods.  In fact, let’s just take a moment to look at this aspect of the story.  Clearly, this won’t be the first time that seasoned fantasy readers will have encountered Gods on this scale with all the sibling rivalry involved but what I love here is that all the Gods have their own natures linked to particular animals and over time, through interactions with humans, some of these traits have been passed on – such descendants being known as the Tainted.  I love this aspect of the story and the way it changes the nature of the battles involved.

Gwynne is an author who excels at action scenes and all them are breathtakingly described.  I had my heart in my throat every time shields locked wondering whether any favourites would fall under the axe, and I’m not going to lie, this is an author who isn’t shy of killing off some of his people so don’t become complacent in that respect because anything can happen.  But, it’s not all action.  There’s wonderful moments of camaraderie and banter, or cunning snippets of other scenes playing out and weaving the story together.  The pacing is just so well planned and I loved the way that as the story progresses you have these shorter chapters that really pack a punch.  I mean in one respect, as the tension rose I found myself thinking ‘nooooooo’ when we jumped pov just as something tantalising was revealed, everything became so intense and yet at the same time I have to acknowledge it drove my reading on into the early hours with the age old ‘just one more chapter’.

I don’t know what more I can say, I feel like I’m waxing lyrical about this and I’m in danger of going overboard with the praise but I can’t help myself.  I’m having such a good time with this series that I don’t want anyone to miss out.  A fantastic storyline, amazing characters, pacing perfection, sublime writing, some downright icky characters – all I can say right now is the thing with the tongues!  Why, just why was there a need to go there?  If you love fantasy and you’re not reading this series then I implore you, do yourself a favour and get on board.  I have so much emotion right now – I’m watching Gwynne and thinking it’s going to be a long wait for the next book.

That is all.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 5* (I would actually give it 5.5 if I could!)

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

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#WyrdAndWonder – “Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

Posted On 2 May 2022

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I’m a little late (or absent minded) with my introductory post for this year’s Wyrd & Wonder but better late than never I always say.  Join me down the rabbit hole if you will.

Wyrd & Wonder is a month long celebration of all things fantasy be it in book, film or any other format you enjoy.  I won’t reinvent the wheel here because, besides anything else, this post includes everything you need to know and does so in a far more eloquent manner than I could achieve.  In a nutshell this is probably the most easy going and yet exciting event of the year.  Lots of people coming together to discuss all things fantasy – what more could you possibly want?  All you need to do is…

 ‘Speak Friend and Enter’

I’m a little behind with some of my reads at the moment (life having other plans occasionally) and so I’m hoping to cram lots of lovely fantasy books in this month if I can.

I’ve just finished reading an amazing book – a second in series and a series that I can’t say enough good things about.  Seriously, if you love fantasy, epic-Norse-inspired fantasy with amazing characters, Gods, battles and other strange critters you would go a long way before finding anything as absorbing.

I’m also well into the third book in a series that I’m loving by a favourite author.  I’m keeping all of this vague because I will be posting about both these books and series during the event so stay tuned.

On top of that I have a few other great reads lined up – here are a few of the covers to entice you in:

I’m going to leave it there for now.  Expect lots more posts during the month of May.  I’ll be using the #WyrdAndWonder Twitter Tag for my posts and also the lovely banner at the top of this post which has been created by chic2view.

IMAGE CREDITS: tree wolf image by chic2view on 123RF.com

Have fun storming the castle everyone. 😀

Friday Face Off : The Hood #wyrdandwonder

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.  This week’s theme:

 The Hood

May is the month of Wyrd and Wonder so for the FFO themes I’m choosing fantasy books.  This is my last FFO that links to the Wyrd and Wonder event – I cannot believe we’re almost into the month of June.  I’ll be writing a wrap up post shortly for what books I read this month.

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I was looking forward to this week.  I read quite a few fantasy books and hoods are quite often used on covers.  I could do a medley but I already did a medley last week so instead I’ve chosen a very recent read and in fact the winner of the most recent Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition.  The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson is a very good book that I heartily recommend, and, unusually (for self published books) it has three covers to choose from  all with hoods.  Feast your eyes on these:

My favourite this week:

TLW2

Do you have a favourite?

I’ve updated the list now to include themes for next year.  If you know of an event that’s coming up let me know and I’ll try and include covers that work for the event itself so that you can link up to the Friday Face Off and, as always, if you wish to submit an idea then leave me a comment – or if you’d like to host a week then simply let me know.  Also, I would just mention that it’s very possible that some of these might be repeats from previous FFOs although I have tried to invent more ‘open ended’ prompt that can be interpreted differently and also prompts that relate to emotions.  Finally, don’t struggle with any of these, this is meant to be a fun way of highlighting books.  If you can’t come up with a book you think fits for a particular week use a freebie – perhaps a recent read for example:

Next week – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

2021

June

4th – The nose boop – any animal, or human, with a close up shot.

11th – A cover that annoyed you and why

18th – Out of Perspective, or make you feel a bit dizzy

25th – Upside down, back to front or topsy turvy

July

2nd – A book with a landscape you’d like to visit

9th – A Wicked Grin

16th – Books with ‘book’ in the title

23rd – A Black Hole – could be in the universe or going deep into the ground

30th – Chaos – maybe too much going on in this one

August

6th – “They cluck their thick tongues, and shake their heads and suggest, os so very delicately!” – The Motel

13th – A favourite holiday read

20th – Dressed to kill (could be literally someone dressed to kill, or someone dressed up for a big night out

27th – Sunbathing or on the beach

September (RIP event)

3rd – 1920s feel, noir detective

10th – I’m Henry the Eighth I am – let’s look at Kings or other Emperors/rulers

17th – Books with ‘Murder’ in the title

24th – A favourite thriller

October

1st – A Halloween read

8th – Chills – anything at all that almost makes you too scared to pick up the book (your own pet hate)

15th – Your favourite book of magic

22nd – Books with ‘Queen’ in the title

29th – Must be gothic

November – Sci Fi Month

5th – Your earliest sci-fi read or the first sci-fi you reviewed

12th – A book with ‘star’ in the title

19th – Futuristic vista

26th – A Black Hole – in the universe or going deep into the ground

December

3rd – Windswept, the classic figure, stood majestically, with wind blowing out in a fetching way

10th – A fairytale retold

17th – Winter Solstice approaching – anything cold and seasonal

24th – All things fire – red hair, red covers, fire breathing dragons, simply fire?

31st – What’s your catnip – if it’s on a cover you have to pick it up

The Blacktongue Thief (Blacktongue #1) by Christopher Buehlman #wyrdandwonder

The Blacktongue Thief is one of the books I’ve read as part of the Wyrd and Wonder event (details here) and what a creative wonder this book was.

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My Five Word TL:DR review : Fast paced, inventive, fantasy shenanigans

blackImagine that somebody put all the fantasy tropes in a big bag, shook it up and then upturned the whole thing.  A hot mess of mediaeval style fantasy might be picked from the ensuing chaos.  A quest, if you will, filled with reluctant heroes, witches, trolls, giants, goblins and much, much more.  Now, flavour that concoction with some fantastic creativity, a dash of horror and a healthy glug of humour, stir wickedly and the result is a rich stew of delicious delights.

Yes, I enjoyed The Blacktongue thief, it’s a very entertaining read that runs the full gamut of emotions.  It had me laughing out loud one moment and then staring in horror the next.  Never predictable, fast paced and I must say I can’t wait to read more from this world.

I’m not going to delve too deeply into the plot – in fact I’m not going to go there at all.  To be quite honest the plot feels almost inconsequential in some respects and in fact we, much like the main character, remain in the dark for a good portion of the story.  That isn’t to say there’s a lack of action or motivation to propel the characters forward – more that it’s not the most important aspect and it’s a story that has a number of twists which is another reason I’m not going to elaborate.  Let’s just say, the characters have a need to travel from A to B but will go through a circuitous route that will involve C, D, E and F along the way.

Instead I’m going to chat about what worked for me with the Blacktongue Thief.

Well, firstly let’s take a look at the title which refers to the main character, Kinch Na Shannack, otherwise, thankfully, known as Kinch.  Kinch is from Galt where the people are born with a black tongue.  On top of this particular characteristic Kinch has a lucky streak, a very curious reading ability and a lot of charm.  Kinch has been trained as a thief by the Taker’s Guild.  Of course they don’t take on this burden of training out of generosity.  They expect payment and Kinch is in debt.  I could say his debts force him into a life of thieving but as he’s been trained in the arts that’s hardly the case, he always expected to take this route, its more that his debts have simply pushed him to desperation – which is where we find him when the book begins, sitting in a tree, with an arrow knocked, and a bad feeling inside waiting for a most unlikely victim to come strolling through the trees ahead. The early chapters see Kinch set out on a path, at the behest of the Guild, that team him up with a warrior known as Galva.  Galva is on a quest of her own.  She has secrets and at least one very cool surprise.  Along the way they gather a couple of other companions.  Most notably Norrigal, a witch in training who becomes something of a love interest as the story develops.  And a blind cat known as  Bully Boy who also has surprises in store.

The thing is.  I liked these characters.  I found them easy to read about, I cared about them as the story progressed and I really enjoyed the unusual aspects that each of them bring to the story.  I mean, there is literally never a dull moment with the Blacktongue Thief and the characters seem to ricochet from one outrageous situation to the next.  Which isn’t to say that this is too ‘busy’.  It’s just incredibly creative, full of magic and myths and with a number of genuinely laugh out loud moments that offset events that could otherwise become too grim.

I really enjoyed the writing and in fact I have another book (horror) by this author which I’m now dying (no pun intended) to read.  I mean, there’s a lot of gallows humour here not to mention a sort of tongue in cheek feel to certain elements.  Like I said above, the author seems to have a determination to fit everything into this world, witches, kraken, adventures on the sea, deserted islands, flesh eating goblins, and such a lot of little details that help to strengthen the sense of place, and yet this is all accomplished with apparent ease, it doesn’t feel overdone or cluttered and the world building is great – the history of the wars, songs, games, etc. all infused with enough  unique ideas to help it carve out it’s own little niche in the fantasy world.

I will just point out that this book isn’t shy of a bit of cursing and certain elements where you can really see Buehlman’s experience of writing horror coming into play. I don’t say that to put anyone off.  This isn’t horror as such, just a bit bloody on occasion.  For example, I never expected to read about such an unusual tug of war and its gruesome outcome!

Overall, I had a remarkably good time reading this one.  If I had any criticism at all it would simply relate to a slight feeling of being a little lost just over half way through, a feeling which ultimately relates to the meandering journey that the characters end up on and a fleeting sense of not quite understanding where the story was going.  To be honest though, I actually think that this was intentional on the part of the author.

The conclusion provides a great set up for the second instalment and I look forward to seeing where the author takes the story next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4 stars.

Wyrd & Wonder : Event recap #WyrdAndWonder

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IMAGE CREDITS: Flaming phoenix by Sujono Sujono | Decorative phoenix by Tanantachai Sirival

June is here and didn’t that rush up on us, probably because we were having such a great time taking part in Wyrd and Wonder.  I had a fantastic time, I didn’t necessarily stick to plan but I had some good reads, joined in the readalong and kept my eye on all the daily challenges.that were sweeping/swamping twitter.

So, check out my post pre event to see what my original schedule looked like  – this was maybe a little ambitious and I didn’t totally stick to it but I did okay and enjoyed my reads:

  1. The Goblin Emperor  by Katherine Addison – the readalong book. (Short recap of my thoughts to follow soon)
  2. Night Of The Dragon by Julie Kagawa (reviewed)
  3. The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – I’m 30% into this one
  4. The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant (reviewed)
  5. The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison – just completed, review to follow
  6. Silver in the Wood (The Greenhollow Duology #1) by Emily Tesh (reviewed)
  7. Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton (reviewed)
  8. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – review to follow

Finally, I’d like to thank our lovely hosts imyrilLisa and Jorie.and say how much I’m looking forward to taking part again next year (too soon?)  Seriously, though, see you all again for another Wyrd and Wonder next May.

 

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