Author: John Gwynne Publisher: Orbit Books
I would like to start this review by thanking Netgalley and Orbit books for the opportunity to read this novel in return for an honest review.
The Shadow of the Gods was a novel dripping in lore – lore so perfectly crafted, ingrained so deeply within its pages, that you almost felt you were there, battling within the Bloodsworn. I was so elated whilst reading The Hunger of the Gods to see that the lore is still the focus of this incredible novel. As I stated in my review for The Shadow of the Gods, and other reviews I have posted on my blog, a rich lore is becoming the most essential element within any fantasy novel. Gwynne writes with a masterclass on excellent lore writing, showing his high level of understanding and research into his work. This element alone makes these novels an absolute standout within the fantasy realm.
Reading other reviews, my next praise will most likely not be surprising and I am sorry for that. However, Orka is an absolute stand out character and her development is continued within this second novel. Within Shadow of the Gods, her story focused on her tragedy and her mission but Gwynne has done an excellent job of broadening her story. In the Hunger of the Gods we begin to explore her old life and how her current quest, is bringing that life very much to the present. Reading how he adapts to the changes within the Bloodsworn, as well as the familiarity, was engaging throughout the novel. I also find Orka humble in nature, not being changed by her reputation or show-boating as many other lead characters may do in the same position. Orka is exactly as you read her, she is down to earth and relatable, despite her being an absolute bad ass. There are other characters in which I have grown to love more within this sequel, such as Elvar and Varg, whose stories are pushed further, both demonstrating how their stories have changed since the first novel. The Bloodsworn again hold their light-hearted humorous charm, but at the same time have a true sense of honour and brotherhood. I always enjoyed my moments with the Bloodsworn, no matter which members were involved during the scene.
This book felt slightly larger than the previous, the groups seem far apart around the world but at the same time their stories are coming together. With so many players on the field, the stakes are getting greater with each chapter that passed. If you have seen the cover for The Hunger of the Gods, then it won’t be a surprise that other gods are introduced within this novel – again this helps to build the size of the world. I love the idea of these Gods being reborn once again within the world but I also love the connection the characters in the story have with the gods. Certain people are ancestors of the gods and have therefore gained some of their power but they have to keep their heritage a secret because the world does not want them around. Varg’s story in particular really set the tone, with him once being a slave-thrall. I felt Gywnne played on his story really well, using his history to drive Varg’s chapters with emotion, tying a strong connection to him.
The story itself moves on hugely from Shadows of the Gods, however I couldn’t help but feel whilst reading that this book was acting more like a stepping stone to the big finale novel. This isn’t to down play any big moments or character developments within its pages, more that I felt Gywnne was holding something back. I was constantly waiting for the huge moments that would leave me in shock, but no true moment arose. Hunger of the Gods felt more like it was written to push the story on, develop the characters as needed and put the pieces into place. I really enjoyed the story and I am very much ready for the final book in the series.