Review: THE HUNGER OF THE GODS by John Gwynne

Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 625
Release Date: April 12th, 2022
Series: THE BLOODSWORN SAGA, Book 2
Rating: 5/5 Stars – Loved It!

Warning: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can read reviews for those books here: THE SHADOW OF THE GODS

The Hunter of the Gods

The time of the gods is upon us once more. The dragon god Lik-Rifa roams the land, and she’s gathering her monstrous children to her side in preparation for war. Faced with a being of overwhelming power, some conspire to bind other awesome powers to their whim, a dangerous play to fight a dangerous enemy. Still others continue to pursue their own vendettas, determined to rescue loved ones and wreak vengeance on those who stole them. And still others flock to Lik-Rifa’s side, seeing in her the end of three hundred years of enslavement. But no matter the location or goal, one thing is clear: the gods hunger for vengeance, and no place on the continent will be safe from their wrath.

THE HUNGER OF THE GODS is a bloody sprawling adventure that thrills with the sheer audacity of the feats being accomplished by its characters. Within the first hundred pages I found myself cackling over what certain characters had done, especially because I don’t see anyway it doesn’t come back to bite them by the end of the series. Warriors in this world often talk about wanting to be a part of a saga-song, and you can feel that sense of myth in every page of this book. But where THE SHADOW OF THE GODS was about the blurring line between myth and the mortal world, THE HUNGER OF THE GODS shatters that line completely. Humans are forced to accept that every tale and monster contained within is real, and they are gathering for war.

Make no mistake, this is a tale that takes commitment, as THE HUNGER OF THE GODS clocks in at over 600 BIG pages, but it’s the kind of adventure that’s hard to put down. The three POVs of the first book return, along with two new POVS to track the growing factions across the continent. The only true complaint I have about this book is that sometimes the chapters are maddeningly short (a few pages) as the author chooses to rapidly switch between all the balls in the air, giving me something of whiplash as the action started up only to abruptly switch to a new POV. Thankfully, that balances out with the chapters that are a much more reasonable length, as well as the few times two POV characters run into each other and we get to see events from two different sides. And when those POVs collide, the result is worth the anticipation.

(A quick shout out to the author for providing an EXTENSIVE recap of what happened with each POV character in the last book, as well as a cast of characters at the front of the book. It made sinking back into this world a much easier process than it could have been otherwise.)

To top it all off, these characters exist in shades of gray, making it possible to empathize with characters in diametrically opposed factions. Elvar, a returning shield-maiden POV character from book one, has some admirable qualities and wants to take down the Big Bad, but also freely uses magically enslaved Tainted warriors (those with superhuman abilities due to being descended from a god). Meanwhile, a new POV character among the growing faction of free Tainted is determined to end the slavery of his kind – but he’s also willing to burn down and enslave the humans to do it. I even had a shred of empathy for the second new POV character, but just a shred as the rest of me would like to drop-kick his self-serving body into the sun. (He’s written to be hated, and hate him I do.)

Lurking throughout the tale is an underlying theme that’s a bit of nature vs. nurture: is the world the way it is because that’s the way of the world, no matter what we do, or can we choose a different path? Can we simply choose to lay down our swords and be better? The answer from the vast majority of the characters seems to be a resounding No, that violence will always come no matter what, but it is a question raised as some characters struggle to make sense of their lives and ongoing events.

THE HUNGER OF THE GODS is a stellar entry in a series that is worthy of the saga-song title. The last ten pages alone are enough to call this series epic by any definition, and the finale ahead promises to be cataclysmic. I count no less than three factions (possibly more) on the move, each with their own terrifying powers. Who will be left standing when the dust clears? I’m almost afraid to find out, but I have every confidence that the journey will be a worthy one when the final entry in this trilogy releases.

Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

5 thoughts on “Review: THE HUNGER OF THE GODS by John Gwynne

Add yours

  1. I absolutely ADORED this book, and gave it a 5 star too. I agree about the last ten pages — I think I had go to back and reread them because I shot through them so fast just to find out what happened. HOW DARE GWYNNE, RIGHT?

    and also that POV character absolutely deserves to be drop-kicked into the sun, you’re right.

    Liked by 1 person

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