*spoilers for The Shadow of the Gods below*
The Hunger of the Gods is the second installment of the Bloodsworn Saga, following The Shadow of the Gods (read my review here). I had high hopes for this story, but didn't expect to like it as much as the first book, which I loved. However, much to my delight, this volume was not only utterly fantastic, but somehow superseded it's predecessor. Which is saying a lot.
It picks up where Shadow of the Gods left off. Lik-Rifa the dragon-god has been freed from Osketreo where she was bound for hundreds of years. Her dragon-born children and worshipers follow her, their time for being chained and called Tainted coming to end, or so they hope. Her story is followed through the eyes of Biorr, a new addition POV to this story, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. He is a traitor to the Bloodsworn, having killed their leader Agnar, and he is haunted by his betrayal. He also has a soft spot for the enslaved Tainted children who were used in the ceremony to awaken and free Lik-Rifa. Biorr is a likable character, no matter how hard you try to hate him.
Orka continues her quest to find and free her son, and soon learns which direction he is headed. Orka remains one of my favorite characters of any book, ever. Her journey hits home for any parent, and her dogged journey to find Breca is replete with blood and bodies as she tramples over anyone and everyone in her way. Nothing, and no one, will stop Orka Skullsplitter from her mission.
Elvar's character, however, is the one that really got me. Her chapters were absolutely fantastic, and her character grows and changes in many surprising ways. Let's just say, there are many twists in her story, twists that will leave you delighted and dumbfounded.
Another new POV was added, that of the coward Guovarr, whose main purpose is to make you absolutely hate him. Mission accomplished, Mr. Gwynne. Yet, even as you hate him, you find yourself engrossed in his story.
Varg's plot line is straightforward - he and most of the Bloodsworn are after the kidnapped Vol. While his story is a bit one-dimensional, it doesn't leave you wanting more. It delivers in battles and bloodbaths galore as he fights his way to rescue Vol.
All the characters, from the main ones to the side ones, are fleshed out, relatable, and compelling. I don't know what Gwynne does better, characterization or plot lines, but what I do know is this... Gwynne delivers on all fronts. This book, this series, is an absolute masterclass in storytelling. There are gods awakening, battles raging, sagas being sung for the ages, and through it all, deep themes of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and love. Without a doubt this series will turn out to be on the of best I've ever read. So stop whatever you are doing, go buy this book, and get lost in the world of the Bloodsworn.
5/5 stars, and I cannot WAIT for the next installment.
I read a digital copy of this book which I was granted by Orbit Books, through NetGalley. Thank you very much to both parties and the author, John Gwynne!
I had been very much looking forward to continuing this Norse inspired saga and was not disappointed. There is a handy recap included at the beginning of the book, which I found very useful to remind myself of who the main characters were, it having been a year since I read the Shadow of the Gods. The maps were also a helpful addition - the characters do a lot of travelling across Vigrid in this story of mythical shape-shifting gods, fantastic creatures and saga legends. There are also many Norse terms peppered throughout the narrative so the glossary of terms was useful too.
Shadow of the Gods is an all caps EPIC. This Norse inspired story is full of high stakes, brutal fighting, and intriguing characters. I zipped through this slightly chonky novel at a gallop. It has cool monsters, a dash of magic, and some mythic backstory ripped straight from the sagas and twisted into something new.