Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

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😍 It’s awesome.

OoooOoooo a new high fantasy series by Kevin Hearne. Sign me up! It sounded really, really interesting when I first read about it, and I quite like the Iron Druid series, so when this popped up on NetGalley, I jumped at the chance.

So, I’d like to thank Kevin Hearne, Random House/Ballantine via NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
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.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
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.  

REBEL AND HERO
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.

The future always waits until the present to reveal its plans. But the past can clarify our goals for us sometimes, help us say good-bye to those we haven’t let go, even realize that we need to change. That is the magic of stories.

This story was told in a really, really interesting way. Similar to The Kingkiller Chronicles in a way, this story is told by a bard, but instead of telling his own story, he tells the stories of others to create one giant (#sorrynotsorry) narrative about a series of events. He tells the story not only of the characters but as the characters night by night. I really liked that. It was told in the first person, but actually told secondhand by someone with perfect memory who was told the story and is retelling it with the flair that only someone with his specific powers can do.

The book opens with a Dramatis Personae – a short description of most of the characters here – with drawings of each of them. I really liked that, because having a good idea of what they looked like was neat. It’s an awesome reference for using as you read.

This world has all of a sudden been invaded by giants. Seven or eight foot tall pale and extremely gaunt men and women that nobody has ever seen before and nobody can understand. They must have come from across the once-thought-uncrossable ocean, but nobody knows why. They’ve killed everyone they’ve come into contact with and gone on their way. So, where did they come from and why?

Characters in this book have ‘kennings,’ which is like a very specific magical power depending on where they live. Each land has a kenning. There are five so far that we know of: Fire, Wind, Water, Earth, and Plants. Some people in their respective lands choose to gain powers based on the kenning of the land. They risk their life for the chance. Their vocation is based on their kenning in most lands. For example, Tallynd is a tidal mariner. She can control water. She can more or less become water, allowing her to travel very quickly across long distances of ocean, change the currents of the ocean, and breathe underwater. It comes with a cost though, and the cost is years of life. The more she uses her power, the faster she ages. So, she’s a tidal mariner. The most powerful kind of water-kenning user. She guards the ocean from invaders, looks for things along the bottom, helps boats entering or exiting the port… that kind of thing. That’s her kenning, and that’s her job.

There’s so much more going on here than the invasion of the bone giants. There’s also the displacement of an entire nation of other giants (these ones being giants that everyone does know exist- they’re locals from the land of the first kenning). An entire nation has had to evacuate their land due to a volcano eruption. They move to a spot of land that seems perfect for them, but… well it’s kind of owned by someone else, and is on the borders of a land that protect their trees with religious zeal and who rather do not like the idea of a people known for their production of steel and glass cutting them all down to feed their forge fires.

So, the story all begins to come together as you see it from the POV of several people from several places around the world who have different reasons to be where they are, and different skins in the game. It’s a really interesting way to lay a story out. There are really neat little details abound too, like different idioms and slang used in different lands. People from Forn (plant kenning) use idioms about roots, growing, fertilizing, and things of that nature (#stillnotsorry) to reference or explain things in their everyday life. Characters in this book are men, women, gay, strait, and just about every skin color under the sun, and none of it mattered in the grand scheme of things. They were of course noticeably different races and genders, but aside from those noticeable differences, were all just people to everyone else. Not better or worse, but different, with a different story. That was pretty awesome.

And finally… what I thought of it, all told. I admittedly struggled to stay interested in this one in the beginning. It’s wonderfully written, and there was nothing in it that I found inherently off-putting, but I found that it didn’t immerse me as much as I hoped it would right out the gate. I ended up reading another book in between chapters 1 and 3. This is rare for me, as usually I try and power on through one book at a time. I found myself finding excuses to do other things, putting it down every few minutes, that sort of thing. However, this passed after I got used to the story, and became more immersed in it. Truth be told, I think this happened right around Abhi’s story’s beginning, as I really liked him as a character. I didn’t care quite as much for anyone else, though. I suppose this sort of thing is bound to happen to me every now and then. I liked the setting. I think it’s a really interesting world, with a really well thought out and well executed magic system. While it wasn’t my favorite Kevin Hearne book, I still think it was a really, really good book all round.

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Like this only…. giantier? 😀

So, in conclusion, while this book and I didn’t see altogether eye to eye in the beginning, I ended up quite liking it once I gave it more time. I’d recommend it to people who like a unique magic system, or who love a good bard!

You can see this book on goodreads here, and pre-order it on amazon here (it comes out on October 17th!)

Thanks again to Random House/Ballantine via NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.

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