Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Hunger of the Gods by John Gwynne
Series: The Bloodsworn Saga #2
Published by Orbit on April 12, 2022
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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.
The Hunger of the Gods is the second book in the new Bloodsworn Saga trilogy by John Gwynne. For epic fantasy and long running series, I really appreciate it when there is both a character list and a recap of what happened in the first book for the readers to have their memory jogged without putting reminders into the flow of the story. Gwynne’s for this book was done so well I felt like I’d read his first book a month ago instead of a year.
The Bloodsworn Saga is a Norse-like Mythos based fantasy. Not Thor or Oden but animal gods that once roamed the world and had human forms. Their children were once the great and powerful of the land, but now if you have god blood in your veins you are considered tainted and made to be a slave. In Shadow of the Gods, Lif-Rifa (the Dragon God) was released from her prison and the world is about to find out why the gods of the past banded against her to put her in prison for thousands of years. Lif-Rifa wants to punish all of those who have turned the god’s children into slaves and take her place as ruler of the lands.
There are far too many characters to touch on them all here. Gwynne uses multiple PoVs including some from the ‘bad guys’ to give the reader a fuller understanding of the scope of the story. Orka Skullsplitter is probably my favorite. Her son was stolen and her husband killed in the first book of the series. She is searching for the people who took her son, Breca, in hopes that she can get him back. Breca was stolen by the faction that wanted to free Lif-Rifa from her tomb and start a war against the humans so you know that will be a hard battle. Spending time with Orka and learning of the life she left to raise a family made her all the more special to me.
Varg was a slave; he escaped that life and is now traveling with the Bloodsworn. They are on the trail of another character who stole their Seior Witch. She is the leader’s wife in secret and they will stop at nothing to find the woman he loves. Vog is not being treated well by her captors and I spent much of the book hoping she would be rescued by the Bloodsworn. Varg has come a long way from the thrall he used to be and is becoming more of a warrior everyday. He is finding his place on this crew that are his new family and will do anything to keep them alive.
Elvar, now leader of the Battle-Grim is skating a dangerous line. While for the most part I like her, she has kept some of the tainted as thralls as she was a slaver for the most part in the prior book. Her view on the world is changing though and she now travels with two gods in hopes of finding Lif-Rifa to destroy her. It will be hard battle and the wolf god has been dead a long time, not at his best and let’s just say he is helping not of his own free will. Elvar will have to make some hard choices as she is bound by magic to find Uspa’s son who is being held with Breca by the Dragonsworn.
There are so many who want to kill the others in this tale as they have had someone they care about killed by other characters. Varg for instance has made some very strong enemies and there are so many now that want to kill Orka. When all the characters meet up, there will be so much blood. This is not a kind world, many are treated cruelly or die during the multitude of battles that happen in the book. There are so many characters, it is sometimes hard to keep track of them all.
Hunger of the Gods is a great follow-up to the story. The world is expanded along with the characters. They are more three dimensional in this and even the ‘bad’ guys PoV leads to a bit of a grey area for a few of them. I liked the overall flow of this story better than the first as we didn’t need to do as much set up. I appreciated that we got to dig more into the lore of the world and the gods and meet a few of them who are now roaming and set up with different bands of people. The last thirty pages of the book really helped slide this into the final rating as they were intense and I really just wanted to start the next book right away. Gwynne has given us another great sage-tale to carry with us.
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