Friday, June 15, 2018

Audiobook Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

Series:     Seven Kennings #1
Pub. Date:Oct. 17, 2017
Publisher:Random House Audio
Narrators:Xe Sands
Luke Daniels
Length:22 hrs 14 min
Source:Overdrive / Library

So this is a book outside of my normal wheelhouse - an epic fantasy sans romance. I think this review may be a bit hard to write because this is a very complex story with detailed world building and cast development. The book gave me a feel of The Hobbit and/or Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones. I commend Kevin Hearne on his imagination and ability to develop such a complex society with varied cultures, language and races/species.

So the basis of this society are the kennings - which are magical abilities. There are five well known kennings (air, water, fire, earth, plants) and lesser known sixth (animals) and seventh (unknown) kennings. The kennings are largely split by city (kindgom?) and/or culture. This is a western society where the people have mostly dark skin, and are further divided by their magical abilities. The western society is invaded by giants from the east who have pale skin that burns, and no magical abilities. We will be operating in the western society for this first installment of the series. That is a very basic and brief overview the society as a whole that certainly doesn't do justice to the complexity of the story.

(I apologize for any misspellings for character names, places, etc. in this review. As I listened in audio, I will be using my best guess for unfamiliar words and names.)

The story revolves around a bard, Fintan, who is telling about the plague of giants from various different points of view. The bard's magical ability is that he is able to take on the persona of each person while he tells their story. At first I was worried about this method of telling the story - but it turned out to be extremely interesting and I got sucked into the story fairly quickly. I was listening to this as I drove across the country and it kept me captivated for the entire time.

I really liked the various magical abilities and I was glad that Hearne delved into each ability and described not only how the people came by the special powers, but also the specifics of what each power allowed them to do, and the consequences of using those powers. The character races (species?) were also very interesting. There were tree people, mariners, fire giants, bone giants, and others both magical and mundane. There were corrupt political figures, sympathetic heroes, and "regular" people who faced more run-of-the-mill issues. There was really a character type for every type of interest and I loved the diversity.  That being said... don't get too attached to anyone! I did mention this story had a Game of Thrones feel in that lots of people die. Of course that didn't stop me from getting attached to people, and you felt that gut wrenching moment of loss when their life was lost heroically or not.

I know I haven't said a ton about the plot or the story details... but I really don't want to give any of those away. I think fantasy fans will get more from the execution of the plot by finding out the details for themselves. However I do have to say that if you have the chance to listen to this story in audio - I highly encourage it. The narrators were absolutely fabulous. There were so many characters for them to take on, and they both pulled it off with ease. Every character was easily distinguishable and identifiable as soon as the switch in persona occurred. They even went so far as to sing the songs of the bard and I found that to add such a nice element to the story. 

I recommend this story to any fans of epic fantasy, urban fantasy, or complex stories in general.

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