#WyrdandWonder Book Review: The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Book 2 of The Bloodsworn Saga
Publisher: Orbit (April 12, 2022)
Length: 672 pages
Picking up immediately from the end of The Shadow of the Gods, A dragon god of legend has been freed from her eternal prison and she’s about to unleash a reign of blood upon the world. As Lik-Rifa quickly amasses her army of tainted dragonborn followers, the plot of The Hunger of the Gods once more follows our three main characters as they each embark on their own individual quests.
Orka, a veteran warrior who has come out of retirement to seek her stolen son, is trying to stay one step ahead of the mayhem with a traveling warband of her own. Meanwhile, Varg has found a new freedom and family with the Bloodsworn, embarking on a mission of vengeance. And then of course there’s Elvar, a Jarl’s daughter who is determined to show the world she is so much more.
In an interesting development, we also see the addition of two new POVs, including Gudvarr, a morally complicated character who adds a bit of darkness and avarice into the mix, as well as Biorr, who gives us insight into this world of warring gods.
Plotwise, I’m not going to go much more in depth than that, not really over a concern of spoilers like in many of my other reviews, but simply because the story itself is truly that straightforward. In some ways, The Hunger of the Gods feels very much like a bridge book setting up a big hurrah in the final installment of the trilogy, but in the best way possible. That said though, at close to 700 pages it’s a doorstopper of a novel, and for most of it, we go nowhere fast. Author John Gwynne likes to put his characters under a magnifying glass, which sometimes is a good thing, while at others it can get a bit tedious. As Orka, Varg, and Elvar each set off on their respective missions, there’s inevitably a lot of downtime as we switch back and forth between their chapters, which I feel is a common pitfall for many multi-POV fantasy epics.
Thankfully, we get frequent bursts of breathtaking, action-packed sequences that ultimately help keep the pace from dragging, and there’s always something interesting happening despite the plot’s slower moments. Gwynne’s gift for character development should be highlighted here, as the story delves into the minds and motivations of our protagonists while exploring themes of family, friendship, ambition, revenge, and courage. I also loved how the world of the Bloodsworn Saga was greatly expanded in this sequel as our characters travel to new and faraway exotic places, introducing more mythical Norse elements into the series.
Still, at the end of the day, I would say The Shadow of the Gods is the overall better novel, though The Hunger of the Gods probably has the edge for having more depth. In fact, in certain respects I would even argue that it was more epic as well. Our characters continue to grow, and while I will refrain from gushing about how much I loved Orka, Varg, and Elvar since I feel like I already did enough of that in my review of the first book, I think Gwynne did a fantastic job continuing to flesh them out in this sequel, not to mention that with the addition of the two new POVs, I sense we’re deep diving into more complicated territory as the author challenges himself with new boundaries.
All in all, I have to say I’m pleased with the way things are going in this series. Now bring on the next one!
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of The Shadow of the Gods (Book 1)