The Hunger of the Gods (Bloodsworn Saga #2) by John Gwynne
Publication Date: April 12th, 2022
Paperback. 672 pages.
About The Hunger of the Gods:
"The Hunger of the Gods continues John Gwynne’s acclaimed Norse-inspired epic fantasy series, packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance.
Lik-Rifa, the dragon god of legend, has been freed from her eternal prison. Now she plots a new age of blood and conquest.
As Orka continues the hunt for her missing son, the Bloodsworn sweep south in a desperate race to save one of their own – and Varg takes the first steps on the path of vengeance.
Elvar has sworn to fulfil her blood oath and rescue a prisoner from the clutches of Lik-Rifa and her dragonborn followers, but first she must persuade the Battle-Grim to follow her.
Yet even the might of the Bloodsworn and Battle-Grim cannot stand alone against a dragon god.
Their hope lies within the mad writings of a chained god. A book of forbidden magic with the power to raise the wolf god Ulfrir from the dead . . . and bring about a battle that will shake the foundations of the earth."
John Gwynne has done it yet again and crafted an incredibly complex, thrilling, and action-packed story of loss, betrayal, family, and honor. There is no sophomore slump to be found here! This sequel is just as gripping as the first book in this trilogy, The Shadow of the Gods, and acts as an excellent contiuation of the story.
A quick note before diving into the meat of this review: if you, like me, absolutely loved The Shadow of the Gods but have realized that you’re a little fuzzy on some of the finer points of what happened since reading it last year, don’t despair! Gwynne has included a very handy “the story so far” section at the beginning of The Hunger of the Gods to help all of us without having to re-reading the first book (which would be awesome, but time-consuming). Any author that does this automatically gets some bonus points in my book.
I loved getting to catch up with Orka, Varg, Elvar, and all the additional cast of characters that surround them, including members of the the Bloodsworn and the Battle-Grim–I love them all! We also get a couple new POVs to follow, but I’ll leave them as a surprise for you to discover on your own reading experience. Gwynne truly excel in writing characters that are well-developed and complex, full of strengths, weaknesses, and strong personalities that earn them a memorable place in this series and in my mind. Orka remains my favorite POV to read from, followed by Varg and then Elvar, and this is largely due to Orka's unwavering determination to stop at nothing to find her son. When her mind is set on both finding and avenging her family, there is really nothing that can stop her or cause her fear–other than the fear she holds for her son's safety. I can't get enough of following Orka on this journey and can't wait to see where things go next.
Varg and Elvar have similarly compelling storylines, though I did feel as though Varg's wasn't quite as gripping as in The Shadow of the Gods and that Elvar's had a bit more to it this time. Still, I loved watching Varg's bond continue to grow with the Bloodsworn and to see him continue to learn how to master his own abilities and really understand who he is while also working slowly but surely towards his goal of finidng his sister. Elvar faces some particularly momentous moments in this book, though I won't give any hints as to what those are. Suffice to say, it was really captivating getting to watch her overcome new obstacles and really start to understand what she is capable of.
Something that I love about Gwynne’s books is his ability to portray a grim and brutal reality without ever overdoing it or employing it for a sensationalist value. All of his violence has a purpose in that it moves the plot forward and often even showcases something about a specific character’s personality or motivations. It’s not violence for the sake of violence, and I appreciate that a lot. All of the battle scenes are also really well done, and it's always obvious how well Gwynne knows his stuff, from the fine details of clothing and environment to the weapons, armor, and fighting techniques. It adds so much to this book and makes it that much more compelling for me.
Another aspect that I appreciate about the Bloodsworn Saga thus far are the strong themes of honor and fighting for your family and what you believe in. I think the ways in which Gwynne incorporates these ideas are what really give this series that extra boost to make it so epic and easy to become invested in. The Hunger of the Gods was an easy book for me to lose myself in, and a lot of that had to do with the plotting and pacing. You can’t really predict where the story is going to go next or what trouble any of these characters are going to run into, which is always the hallmark of a gripping story for me.
Lastly, I also really enjoy the Norse-inspired setting because it’s very Viking-based, but maintains very unique and inventive elements that keep things new. There seems to have been a huge influx in Norse-related entertainment in recent years which has honestly made me slightly burned out on it, but something about Gwynne’s writing and how he crafts this story, world, and lore makes it entirely possible and enjoyable for me to jump into this world. There are gods interacting with mortals, various creatures from tennurs to frost spiders, and so much more packed into this vibrant world.
Overall, I've given The Hunger of the Gods 4.5 stars! I do think I loved The Shadow of the Gods the slightest bit more, but I really can't fauly anything about The Hunger of the Gods and am now dying to read the next book.
*I received a copy of The Hunger of the Gods courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*