A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings #1)
by Kevin Hearne
ebook, 624 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by Del Ray Books
I have been a fan of Kevin’s for years and it’s not just because he is a home town hero. I love his Iron Druid series on so many levels. and so, I admit I had some preconceived notions of what to expect with this new series. Well I was completely mistaken. Don’t take that wrong I enjoyed it but it was nothing like what was expecting. This takes place in a whole new world created by Kevin, unfortunately that means no talking dogs or Irish goddesses. That is not an entirely bad thing though. While not as strong of a book as the Iron druid it has some fresh ideas that give it a lot of promise.
Usually when a book is told in first person there is only one POV and that is kind of how this one works except not at all. The POV we see through is from Dervan, a widowed historian of a country called Brynt. He has the task of writing down the story a bard named Fintan is telling of the Giants War. That is where the other POVs come in, when the Bard tells each part of the story he uses magic to take on the appearance of the person that part of the story is about. So the “voice” of the book changes frequently. I have to say Kevin did a very good job with that. Each one has its own personality and Idioms. That really brought the different characters to life. Some of them were boring at first but luckily it never stays on one person for too long and they all got better as time went on.
The book as a whole has plenty of blood and violence I would almost classify the book itself as Grimdark. But the moments that are in the present are more lighthearted and it seems as if most of the war is over.
The magic system was particularly interesting. It is called a Kenning and there are 7 distinct types, each with its own subtypes that have different abilities. The first is fire and then water air and so on. To be able to use this power you must go to the location for that kenning and it just so happens that each one is in a different country. To try and gain the power you have to risk your life. Brynt’s Kenning is water and if you wanted to gain this ability you must dive down in to an underwater cave as the tide is strongest and swim to the bottom. Of the people that attempt to gain a kenning at least 9 out of every 10 die in the attempt. We don’t find out why people are chosen, but the lucky ones will have powers that are pretty fucking awesome afterwards. It is said that each Kenning was discovered by someone that was suicidal in just the right place at the right time. I said before that there are 7 of them but that is just what everyone believes there is only 5 known Kennings. As with all magic there is a cost though and to use your Kenning ages you. The more power you use the faster you age.
That is all really cool! The thing I didn’t like that much are the Giants. No, not because they are the bad guys. Wait, well yes, they are the bad guys but that’s not why I don’t like them. I actually liked some of the fire Giants. But I am getting ahead of myself again. There are 2 different kinds of giants. First is the Fire Giants (whom I liked sometimes) that live on the southern islands and have a history of trade with most of the other nations. They have the Kenning of fire (hence the name Fire Giants) and are known for the glasswork they produce.
Then we have the Bone Giants. They like to kill things and they wear armor made of bone. (Hence the name Bone Giants) That is about all we learn of them. We never find out if they have a Kenning. We never even really see why they sent armies across the ocean to attack. I am sure we will find out more as the series continues but I would have liked to know a bit more of their motivations.
I loved the magic system and how each land had mixed their idioms with the kenning they have. It was a fast-paced tale and Kevin told it very well. I would have liked to learn more about the bone giants but hopefully that will come in the next book. I am going to give A Plague of Giants 4 out of 5 stars
I do think a Plague of Goblins would have been more fun though