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A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

The author of the beloved Iron Druid Chronicles delivers a high fantasy series rich in magic, history, and culture.

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

A plague of giantsTitle: A Plague of Giants
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Seven Kennings 01
Publish Date: October 17, 2017, Del Rey
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Provided by publisher

Publisher’s DescriptionFrom the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology–complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts.

Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons–all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light.

Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all–if it doesn’t destroy him first. Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine–and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.

Percy Procrastinator says…

I was very nervous about reading this series. The reason is quite simple—authors that I like for one series rarely catch me with their other series. Butcher’s Codex Alera and Cinder Spires didn’t thrill me as much as the Dresden Files, and Armstrong’s Cainsville series didn’t quite live up to the Women of the Otherworld series for me. While there are a few exceptions to this, this seems to be the general rule in my experience.

Kevin Hearne defied my expectations. This was an excellent start to what I hope is a gripping series, as gripping as his Iron Druid Chronicles.

Hearne manages to weave a tale of six peoples in six kingdoms that pulled me into their story. Each one has its own kenning, or magic, they practice. The titular giants make up the only nonhuman group, but the diversity of the humans astounds. Not so much in speech, as the story is recounted by a bard to a group of refugees, but in culture and appearance, each kingdom comes alive. When the bard mentions the Canopy, I knew he spoke about Forn. The best stone workers hail from Rael, while water kennings are from Brynlon. Only Ghurana Nent, or Nentians, stand alone with no kenning.

The title quickly comes into play as the giants of Hathrir, with their fire kenning, come to invade Ghurana Nent while at the same time, the other side of the continent sees Brynlon and Rael invaded by Bone Giants. Both deal with giants but in very different ways.

We learn about all of this from the bard Fintan as he entertains refugees of Byrnlon with what happened during all the “plagues.” Fintan gathered journals from people close to the events and shares with everyone. He then weaves a tale, switching back and forth from character to character. This allows us to learn about each people and their kenning and also how each invasion progresses.

I was hooked after fifty pages. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Would one giant invasion succeed while another failed? Would Abbi take up the spear to honor his family? Will Tallynd keep pushing herself beyond her limits? I wanted to know!

I did get this book as a physical book, and I appreciated that a lot due to the map in the front cover and the cast of characters in the first pages until I got to know them all. While I could have read it on an ebook, I think having those things available did help.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s where it ended. Not everything was wrapped up, and I expected that, so that was fine. I do think that a few smaller things could have been explained in only four or five more pages, and that would have been more satisfying. That is not going to stop me from giving this a five-star rating! If you are a fan of Hearne, run out and get this now!

[Editor’s note – please don’t run as we would hate for you to fall and get injured.]


Luna Lovebooks says…

I must admit when I saw the cover, even after reading the synopsis, my mind went straight to Vikings. I am not sure why. But what I got instead was one wild ride and a great start to a series with myths all its own.

The story is told from multiple points of view. All these views contribute to the overall story of how the giants came to the different lands. To be honest there are almost too many points of view. While each is distinct, I still found myself wondering who was who and what magic they could possess.

It took me a while to get intrigued and drawn in. I am not sure if this is because there were so much world building going on or the fact that I struggled to keep everyone straight, even with a little guide at the beginning as to who was who. Each character has his/her own nation, customs, language, and magic or kenning.

badge3v4I think I will have to rate A Plague of Giants at 3.5. The beginning didn’t flow well since there were so many characters but once I got used to the way the story was progressing it smoothed out. I haven’t decided if I want to continue the series yet but I hope my fellow readers will give it a try for themselves.

Other recommendations…

Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series, Raymond Feist’s Riftwar Saga, Feist and Wurts’s Empire TrilogyThe Glass Spare series by Lauren DeStefano, Swords & Fire series by Melissa Caruso

I received an ARC or review copy of this book from the author/publisher. All opinions are my own.

Hexed by Kevin Hearne

As part of the Iron Druid read-along, Kat is adding her review of Hounded to Percy’s 2015 review.

You shall not suffer a witch to live. Well, unless they aren’t so bad. Or you want to make peace with them. Or. Wait, let me start over. Witches that try to kill you, well, you should try and kill them first. Welcome to Hexed.

HexedTitle:  Hexed
Author:  Kevin Hearne
SeriesThe Iron Druid Chronicles Book 02
Publish Date:  January 1, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description:  Atticus Sullivan, last of the Druids, doesn’t care much for witches. Still, he’s about to make nice with the local coven by signing a mutually beneficial nonaggression treaty—when suddenly the witch population in modern-day Tempe, Arizona, quadruples overnight. And the new girls are not just bad, they’re badasses with a dark history on the German side of World War II.

With a fallen angel feasting on local high school students, a horde of Bacchants blowing in from Vegas with their special brand of deadly decadence, and a dangerously sexy Celtic goddess of fire vying for his attention, Atticus is having trouble scheduling the witch hunt. But aided by his magical sword, his neighbor’s rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and his vampire attorney, Atticus is ready to sweep the town and show the witchy women they picked the wrong Druid to hex.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

Hexed picks up right where Hounded left off: with Atticus due to sign a non-aggression treaty with the local Polish witch coven and its leader, Malina. The coven is taking fire from a wicked German coven who have Bacchants as allies, so they’re requesting aid from Atticus. All in all, these baddies lead our not-so-humble Druid badass into a lot of bloody battles.

I really enjoyed the fight scene with Coyote and Atticus while they were taking down the fallen angel. Lots of chaos that was written well. Probably my favorite scene in the whole book.

Sadly, I think I’m enjoying the story more than the characters. Atticus is too complicated for me. Over two thousand or more years old has given him a lot of knowledge of magic and history. But it does nothing for his social life beyond him knowing how to blend in as a human and with other creatures of the supernatural world. I feel like he’s incredibly naive despite his age. It’s weird to explain. He’s trying to protect his friends but he’s also always leading them into situations where it’s necessary for him to protect them in the first place. Plus, he may have friends in high places, but I feel like he takes advantage of their friendship a lot.

I mean, even Hal, his lawyer, doesn’t want his werewolf pack entangled in his messes because he involved them in the first place. Maybe it’s his character flaw? I’m not sure, but I’m not a fan of him so far – though, I’ll admit I do enjoy the perviness Atticus exudes. Poor guy is definitely not afraid to get naked.

Overall, I enjoyed the storyline involving the Auroras coven versus the Hexen. However, I’m not sure where the whole Kabbal/Hammers of God is going. I’ve read the back cover of Hammered enough to know they’re featured in the next book, but I didn’t quite understand what they were doing in this one beyond being introduced. It felt out of place amidst all the excitement. It wasn’t a bad story, just seemed off-putting at times, especially when the Rabbi is suddenly in the middle of the ending battle.

For that, this gets four stars.

Also, I love Oberon.

Percy_Procrastinator_100Percy Procrastinator says…

What I didn’t like: I can’t think of a darn thing I didn’t like.

What I liked: The whole book. I have read many books that ramble and it feels like filler. With this book, the next thing I knew, I was at the eighty percent done point! I enjoyed watching Atticus and the coven interact. I still enjoy his relationship with his dog, Oberon. Again, a good book about someone who has been around for a long time and seen tricks, even if he can’t always counter them. The history of the many different groups involved was fascinating, gave me the information I need, but left me wanting more.

What I’m really happy about, though, is that the book isn’t based on flashbacks. The main character is two millennia old and the author could easily use flashbacks to relate this to something else. For me, having seen it a lot on TV shows and books over the past two decades, it’s now an overused trope. So the one flashback that happens, is completely relevant, told well, and doesn’t detract from what is currently happening.

badge5v4I stayed up late to finish the book when I saw I was over eighty percent done. And I’m ready to read the next one!

This is a strong five book in an already good series.

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series…

Percy reviewed the first book in this series, Hounded.

Ivana has reviewed the audio versions of later books in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

Besides the normal urban fantasy types, I think anyone who likes the White Wolf RPG Scion would be interested in this book. A lot of themes, although certainly not exactly the same, are here and it would be a good example of how to do that style of game.

Hounded by Kevin Hearne

As part of the Iron Druid read-along, Kat is adding her review of Hounded to Percy’s 2015 review.

A two-thousand-year-old druid’s past finally catches up to him as he must face off against an old enemy.  Fortunately, he has friends.

HoundedTitle:  Hounded
Author:  Kevin Hearne
Series: Iron Druid Chronicles Book 01
Publish Date:  January 1, 2011
Genre:  Urban Fantasy
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionAtticus O’Sullivan, last of the Druids, lives peacefully in Arizona, running an occult bookshop and shape-shifting in his spare time to hunt with his Irish wolfhound. His neighbors and customers think that this handsome, tattooed Irish dude is about twenty-one years old—when in actuality, he’s twenty-one centuries old. Not to mention: He draws his power from the earth, possesses a sharp wit, and wields an even sharper magical sword known as Fragarach, the Answerer.

Unfortunately, a very angry Celtic god wants that sword, and he’s hounded Atticus for centuries. Now the determined deity has tracked him down, and Atticus will need all his power—plus the help of a seductive goddess of death, his vampire and werewolf team of attorneys, a sexy bartender possessed by a Hindu witch, and some good old-fashioned luck of the Irish—to kick some Celtic arse and deliver himself from evil.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.

Kat Mandu says…

My second foray into the Iron Druid Chronicles was as fun and entertaining as the first time. In Hounded, readers are introduced to Atticus O’Sullivan – an ancient and solo Druid with lots of magical secrets, an Irish wolfhound best friend, and plenty of snark to go around.

I loved this story all around. Atticus is adorably fluffy at times, pervy, romantic, and intense as all hell when it comes to defending his magic and birthright. He’s had over 2,000 years of practice to get it all right but he’s still figuring it out and making stuff up as he goes.

The magic system in this one is new for me. Atticus isn’t all powerful. That being said, he’s still pretty powerful and attuned to the Earth in more intimate ways than some rocks. He’s also got friends in high places – including a team of vamp/were lawyers, a witch-possessed woman, some earth-formed golems who like to eat fairies, and Oberon, his best friend and hound. Not to mention, he’s got some feisty goddesses to deal with, some who are allies, others who may turn out to be a bit more complicated than that.

Atticus has spent most of his life hiding from his rival, Aengus Ohm, but when the old god sends some pretty crazy assassins to take him out and kills off pieces of land that are sacred to Atticus, it brings the druid out in the open for a full-scale battle against witches, werewolves, demons, and fae. The action and adventure in this is pretty intense as Atticus has to be one step ahead of his old enemy.

The one drawback to this story for me was only one thing. And before I say what, I will point out that is is VERY clear that Hearne knows his history, mythology, and religion extremely well. However, the first couple of chapters and some later on really drag for me while Atticus is explaining certain magic systems and historical memories. It gets better as the story progresses, but for me, the first chapter took a while to get through, especially. I feel like there was a lot of info-dumping that could have been more spread out. But I’m no editor, so maybe there was no other way for him to utilize all that information.

Either way, it was a great story. Now I’m on to book two!


Percy Procrastinator says…

What I didn’t like: Very little. If I didn’t like anything, it was a lack of pictures of some of the tattoos. I also think that if I hadn’t had it in ebook format, I would have referred to the pronunciation guide more but it wasn’t easy with the ebook.

What I liked: I didn’t see Atticus as a surfer dude. In terms of writing, while that description may have been used, and for his age, he only looks in his early twenties, there is no attempt at an accent or mannerisms for that stereotype. I liked that this was a book about an experienced person, not someone still learning the ropes. As a character, Atticus knows who he is and what he wants to do. There is no angst or learning about the power; instead, this is about how you apply power to meet your goals. That was very refreshing. I like that he has a business that fits him, rare books, but has investments so that money isn’t a concern. For me, this is another example of showing that he’s older and experienced and doesn’t have to worry the trivial things.

I enjoyed the mythology set up in here. I liked reading about the old gods and their ways and how they interact. I liked that it’s kept to what is needed so more can be revealed in later books.

I really enjoyed his friends. Oberon, his dog, is awesome and fun and reminds me of a dog while being so much more. I like that he has supernatural friends who are willing to help him. All of this really added to the story and made me curious to learn more about Atticus and his world.

The bottom line for me is that this was a very fun, good read. I quickly enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the world. I look forward to the next book!

Stand Out Award Badge2Our reviews in this series…

Ivana has reviewed the audio versions of three books later in this series:

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

Besides the normal urban fantasy types, I think anyone who likes the White Wolf RPG Scion would be interested in this book. A lot of themes, although certainly not exactly the same, are here and it would be a good example of how to do that style of game.

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