Book Review : Godkiller

Book Review : GodkillerGodkiller by Hannah Kaner
Published by HarperCollins on September 12th 2023
Genres: Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Friendship, Coming of Age, Dragons & Mythical Creatures, Epic
Pages: 304
Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Bookshop.org
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INSTANT #1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!
“An epic fantasy odyssey begins.” — Entertainment Weekly
"A richly rendered world . . . Kaner writes action that's both fun and intelligible . . . If "The Last of Us" didn't slake your thirst for stories of a grizzled fighter taking a tough kid on the road, then Godkiller should be your jam.” — Charlie Jane Anders, The Washington Post
Enter a land of gods and monsters, soldiers and mercenaries, secrets and wishes—the explosive #1 internationally bestselling fantasy debut in a new trilogy for fans of The Witcher and Gideon the Ninth
Gods are forbidden in the kingdom of Middren. Formed by human desires and fed by their worship, there are countless gods in the world—but after a great war, the new king outlawed them and now pays “godkillers” to destroy any who try to rise from the shadows.
As a child, Kissen saw her family murdered by a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing them and enjoys it. But all this changes when Kissen is tasked with helping a young noble girl with a god problem. The child’s soul is bonded to a tiny god of white lies, and Kissen can’t kill it without ending the girl’s life too.
Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, the unlikely group must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favor. Pursued by assassins and demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning. Something is rotting at the heart of their world, and they are the only ones who can stop it.
“Godkiller will have you in its grasp from the first pages. . . An extraordinary journey.” — Samantha Shannon, New York Times bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree
"Beautifully imagined and intensely felt . . . Godkiller is a bone-rattling fantasy thriller that flies by in a breathtaking rush." — Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Locke & Key
"Epic and intimate, tender and sharp, Godkiller is a triumph of storytelling." — Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf

I finally got around to reading Godkiller and boy, am I glad that I did, as it’s become one of my favorite novels of the year, if not of all time. From the very first page of this debut fantasy novel, I was absolutely captivated by the world-building and the characters. Godkiller takes place in a bit of a post-apocalyptic world, if one considers a massive war between humans and their gods, both old and new, that almost destroyed humanity and the world, an apocalypse (I personally would). Among the wreckage, the new king and only surviving member of the royal family outlaws the worship of all gods, deeming them too dangerous to exist and hoping to put a stop to the deadly conflicts among their opposing followers as well.

 

“‘I don’t understand what led the gods to fight so cruelly,’ said Inara, looking around at the destruction. 

‘Love and power,’ said Kissen, her lip curling. ‘Fights between gods were common in Blenraden, scrapping for the most attention. Old gods, new gods, merchant gods, wild gods. More than once I walked into a spat that had people losing limbs. It’s only when it reached the high lords and ladies that people paid attention.’

‘People don’t need wild gods any more when they’re fat and rich and comfortable. Gods don’t take kindly to being forgotten.’”

 

That means god-killing is suddenly a very lucrative business, one which Kissen, an ardent hater of gods, is all too happy to partake in. Readers are introduced to this mercenary-for-hire (think Witchers, but with gods as targets) as she kills a very angry and trouble-causing water god. What I love the most about Kissen is that she kicks ass not in spite of her disability, but often because of it, even frequently using her prosthetic leg to her advantage in battle. But Godkiller also doesn’t shy from the disadvantages of being disabled either—showing its heroine often in pain due to the constant strain of strapping on her prosthetic leg and the phantom limb pain that continues to haunt her along with the events that took more than just her leg.

After the disability representation of Iron Flame, which felt like an afterthought, and pretty much completely unbelievable, Godkiller’s more realistic take on a character living with chronic pain was a welcome change.  And I was thrilled that Kissen refuses to ever let herself be a victim of her devastating past, focusing on getting revenge against the gods instead. When she encounters a young girl named Inara, irrevocably bound to (an adorable winged and antler rabbit) god of white lies that she actually can’t kill, Kissen has to reexamine everything she thinks she knows and believes in to find what’s truly most important. Though the chronically ill girl in me immediately and fiercely loved Kisenn, I also loved young Inara, and her god-friend, Skedi, as well as the mysterious baker and former knight, Elogast, with whom they party up.

Godkiller made it incredibly easy for me to love all of the characters—even ones who did not have a big role managed to be fleshed out and with complex motivations and actual lives outside of the protagonists. I also absolutely loved how all of the cast of characters are foils to each other in different ways. For example, Skedi is the god of white lies and a firm believer that little lies can help people, but Kissen never lies, fully believing them to be insulting to hers and everyone else’s intelligence, plus a waste of time and effort in general. Also, Kissen hates all gods, both on principle and past experiences, and cute little Skedi is one. Elogast fought a war to stop the gods and serves the king who outlawed them, but believes people should be able to choose for themselves whether or not to worship them, falls in with a person who kills them for a living and a girl who loves one.

 

“‘Why do you hate knights?’ asked Inara, finally.

‘Because,’ said Kissen, ‘ they belong to kings.’

‘You work for the king,’ Inara pointed out.

‘I work for myself. All godkillers do; we’re mercenaries, not holy soldiers. The king’s endorsement just means I make more money for it.’

‘Why don’t you like kings?’ Elo asked carefully. Kissen took a piece of bread and broke it apart in her hands.

‘Because,’ she said, taking a bite, ‘in our world, power turns people bloody.’”

 

There’s usually at least one character I hate or am annoyed by in a fantasy novel with alternating points-of-view, but this was not the case in Godkiller. Author Hannah Kaner does a fantastic job of making all of her characters incredibly sympathetic and compelling, even when they’re not making the best or heroic choices. These decisions probably would have frustrated me in a different novel, but in Godkiller, the motivations of the characters are all very accessible and easy to relate to—I always understood why the characters were moving forward how they were, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with their courses of actions. I think this ability is truly a testament to Kaner’s skill as both a storyteller and a writer.

I wasn’t just fascinated with the characters however, the world-building was incredibly gripping to me as well. I really enjoyed this world, with all of its unique and capricious gods. There are gods as small as the gods of lost sandals and others as large as gods of war and fertility. It was fun to see these very different takes on both totally original gods and gods with roles similar to those from more familiar mythologies, like Norse and Greek. I also really enjoyed how Godkiller presented the almost symbiotic relationship between gods and humans; in this world, neither can survive without the other.

Despite the dedication to world-building and complex character development, there is absolutely no wasted time in Godkiller. The novel is tightly edited with perfect pacing. There is a constant stream of exciting events happening at all times. I started the novel one night before bed and was shocked to find it was 2:30am in no time at all. You can bet that I will be picking up the next entries in the series—in fact, I already have a special edition pre-ordered. I’d recommend this novel to fans of The Drowning Empire trilogy, The Witcher, and anyone who is remotely into any kind of mythology as well. 

 

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Book Review : Godkiller - Blogging with Dragons

Posted December 7, 2023 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Favorite Books

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