A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm actually rather impressed by the first Seven Kennings novel and I'm certain I'm going to be anxious to read the rest... but why?
That's pretty easy, actually. Seven nations and several races of giants and regular humans trying to get along in a pretty close approximation of Vikings and Druids, with light magic, no gods, and many peoples just trying to do their damn best with the whole survival thing and understanding their world.
We get PoVs from the peoples of both the Giants and the Humans and it's the normal kind of thing that makes them go to war. Population migration, settlements without permission, misunderstandings, pride, and a whole gamut of impressive and realistic reasons that are often skimmed or just plain ignored in Epic Fantasies of this caliber.
The magic is certainly not overpowered, either, but even so, big things can be accomplished with it. Unfortunately, the old idea (and disadvantage) of using magic means that it drains your life. Fast. It's a good balance and it even feels real. A few of the more interesting Kennings (types of magic) range from water, fire, illusion, animal calling, and arbor magic.
Just imagine Bards and Skalds and a mix of Icelandic and Germanic peoples, with Dirges, bonfires, and the whole feel of Vinland mixed with the Druidic order, Volcanic peoples, and the drive to find and understand the missing Kennings, the far-off lands, the Abyss that separates nations... and you'll get a very nice feel for this book. :)
I really had a good time. Hearne has always stood out in my mind for his quicksilver grasp of mythology and history and his ability to weave such into pretty awesome stories. His Iron Druid novels are some of my favorite UFs. He turns around his knowledge and weaves a tapestry of many cool cultures and lands rather than anchoring them all in individuals like he did in the UF. He's building a broad mythology here from scratch and the hints that all the Kennings will become ONE is scary.
It almost feels like it could either be a combining, a synthesis, or the complete eradication of all but one or the complete death of magic across the board. The way that these nations rely so heavily on the Kennings, however, means that we can probably expect genocides and shifting alliances, a complicated battle royale of races and peoples as interesting as you please.
This author has my trust. I'm really looking forward to how this will pan out. :)
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