SUNBRINGER by Hannah Kaner (BOOK REVIEW)
This review will contain spoilers for Godkiller
“’I am a knight, so you must know what that means. I have killed gods of vengeance and of nightmares. I have taken blades and terror and fire. I have left my home, my family and my king for my honour. I have no patience for empty threats!
Not a word was a lie.”
They thought the gods were weak and defeated, but where there are those who believe, the gods linger, the gods gain power.
Sunbringer by Hannah Kaner is an action-packed sequel to the hugely successful Godkiller.
We return to our characters in a state of grief and utter despair as they try to prepare for war. Kissen believed her life was over after she had killed the tyrant god of Fire, but in a strange turn of fate, another god saved her. Now she must heed the warnings and prevent a devastating invasion on Middren. Meanwhile Elogast, Inara and Skediceth, are filled with sorrow for Kissen who they saw fall beneath the waves and their anger for the betrayal and destruction King Arren has brought upon them all rises. Their thoughts soon turn to vengeance. Yet King Arren’s life still is in the hands of a god, and now he strives to become a god himself.
A highlight of this book for me was how we get a lot more page-time with the Gods themselves. With Kissen traveling through her childhood home of Talicia, she is warned by several gods of Hseth’s forthcoming invasion, they summon her in various ways, they speak to her and even show her visions as they try to guide her path. In the first instalment I had found Kissen overly angry to the point of being unreasonable, whereas in this sequel I feel her character grows by discovering that she may be a skilled godkiller but she cannot wipe out faith. Whilst Kissen still keeps her quick firing feisty tongue, she does show growing wisdom by at least listening and learning from the gods, even showing them mercy, despite her pure hatred of them. We even see her affection for animals, her need to protect Inara, her hidden softness. Personally, I felt Kissen was a much better rounded character, she’s still distrustful and headstrong but she’s now also willing to think beyond her own feelings and this made following her journey much more enjoyable. That’s not to say the gods are any less dangerous though, if anything they are more dangerous than ever, as seen by some of their direct actions, but Kissen’s understanding of them has slowly changed.
“Inara slowly stopped shaking, and her breaths became gentler, and the murk of her colours soothed to crystalline once more. Finally, she picked herself up, pale and trembling, but calm. She shone with the lie she had asked for and wiped her face.
T’ll find my own way, she echoed in a small voice.”
Inara is another character who goes through changes in this novel. She’s now a child who has lost so many that she loves, a child who has seen bloodshed, been overwhelmed by grief, but also has seen the powers she holds in her hands. Naturally she wishes to use her powers to help, to heal, to learn more of who and what she is. The more Inara puts herself at risk, the more it strains her relationship with her god companion, Skediceth, who wants to protect her at all costs. I have to say this honestly broke my heart a little, to see these two at odd was stressful. I absolutely adore their bond and love, the way they see emotion through colours and comfort each other exactly when they need it, even by Skediceth using white lies. Two further characters who desperately wish to look after Inara were Telle and Yatho, Kissen’s adopted sisters. I was so glad to see these two become more predominant characters and gain a deeper purpose. Telle and Yatho clearly have such a strong love and I appreciated seeing disabled characters set in a medieval world. Kaner is just fantastic at never focusing on what these characters, including Kissen, can’t do, but instead sheds light on what they are willing to do for each other.
The central theme of Sunbringer is about a rising rebellion and this sees our characters in the city of Lesscia, where the archives hold a fountain of knowledge. This city was a great choice in showing how a war can be fought on two fronts, one by looking at history and uncovering hidden truths and the other by holding a siege. Our knight turned baker, Elogast, is thrust back into being a soldier as his fight against his former friend, King Arren consumes his every moment. Elo may still be haunted by PTSD but he’s also willing to put aside his trauma and become the warrior that he once was. It was interesting to see Elo lose his gentle manner and fight with all his strength. I did find that the build up to this battle does take a while to progress and then the novel finishes rather abruptly. However this does tantalisingly set up events for the third and final instalment of the trilogy.
“It might occur to you, said Osidisen quietly, not to insult a god
on his own land.”
“It might occur to you that I don’t give a shit.’
ARC provided by Susanna at Harper Voyager UK in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the copy. All quotes used are taken from an early ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Sunbringer is out 15th February 2024 but you can pre-order your copy on Bookshop.org