A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings)
by Kevin Hearne
Review by Mel Jacob
Del Rey Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345548603
Date: 17 October 2017 List Price $28.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Kevin Hearne creates a world based on the elements of fire, water, air, earth, and plant life. Those who control one of the elements are called blessed also known as having a kenning. However, to become blessed requires a trial by that element that either kills the candidate or gives them power over it.
The northern giants of frigid Hathrir resemble Vikings and control fire. Brynt controls water, Kauria air, Raelech earth and stone, Fornish plants, while Nentia has no kenning. Initially at peace, trouble begins after the eruption of a volcano in the north and migration of the giants to Northern Nentia. At about the same time, mysterious bony giants begin to appear in Brynt. War is inevitable.
A Raelish bard comes to the capital city of Brynt. He has a mighty tale to tell and does it by assuming the guise of various people from each of the lands. Initially, his tale begins with Brynt, but soon blossoms to include all of the nations and the two invasions by different giants. The bard's tales involve many people, each with a bit of the battle against the invading forces. Not all of those portrayed are heroes. Some inevitably die.
Meanwhile, a young Nentian hunter who hates killing animals decides to leave the family hunt with disastrous consequences. His entire family and others are tramped to death by a large herd of buffalo-type animals. Guilt assails him, and he wants only to die. He ends in a thicket filled with bloodcats that each bite him, but instead of killing him, he discovers he can talk to and command animals including insects. He has found the fifth kenning.
With the southern cities of Brynt in ruins, a man who has lost his family decides to take his life by jumping into the Lung, a water-filled rock tube. Instead, he becomes blessed and gives his life through the use of his powers to destroy an invading group of bone giants.
Not everyone will appreciate the jumping from one piece of the story and one character to another, but Hearne does it well and provides a rich tapestry of people, different cultures, and the struggles to work toward a common end. It is unclear how long this new Seven Kennings series will be. A Plague of Giants is Book One and A Blight of Blackwings is Book two. Since only five kennings are known, two more remain to be defined and explored.