The Broken God by Gavin Hanrahan
Orbit, pb, £8.00
Reviewed by John C. Adams
I reviewed the second book in the trilogy for BFS a while back and really enjoyed it, so when the final book in the series arrived in the mail, I was delighted.
The Gutter Prayer was Hanrahan’s debut novel, and he has swiftly grown in confidence. The worldbuilding in The Shadow Saint was exceptionally vivid and, unusually, it contained multiple references to modern items such as guns and ships while ostensibly taking place in a Medieval-style universe. I was intrigued by that combination, but it was less present in this final book in the series, which had more of an out-and-out sword and sorcery feel. In some ways, this was a shame because it was an original take on the genre.
Cousins Cari and Eladora, who both featured in The Shadow Saint, are now presented with divergent challenges many miles apart. Cari is searching for Khebesh, a mysterious land, in order to replenish the powers of her friend Spar and save his life. The Gods are against her, and she is forced to face up to her past when she encounters the captain of a ship she abandoned after his kindness to her years earlier. She carries a grimoire, hoping to trade the magic book for the power to save her friend.
Meanwhile, back in Guerdon, the Godswar has divided the city into three areas or occupation zones controlled by warring factions. A fragile armistice is in force, but all three groups are looking for ways to improve their position in advance of renewed hostilities. Artolo, a member of the Ghierdana clan, is tasked by Great Uncle with overseeing the clan’s operations in Guerdon. He is the Chosen of the Dragon.
Eladora is now in charge of regulating sorcery, receiving applications for licences to practice magic. She then comes under suspicion of ransacking a vault under the New City and looting its relics. Guildmaster Helmont is determined to investigate the rumours of her involvement.
I liked the way the plot strands of Cari, Eladora and Artolo entwined, and I felt that the culmination of the narrative was very well done. I wouldn’t suggest reading The Broken God before the first two books. Some trilogies are designed to be enjoyed individually, with each volume having quite a standalone feel. However, the Black Iron Legacy series is far too complex a tale to jump into two-thirds of the way through, especially as it does not feature any character lists or plot summaries but simply jumps right into the action.
With his debut fantasy trilogy, Hanrahan has established himself as a confident teller of subtle narratives replete with vivid detail. His style is precise yet entertaining, making ‘The Broken God’ a satisfying experience for the reader.
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