Book review

Quick Review – The Broken God – Gareth Hanrahan

The Broken God by Gareth Hanrahan – from Orbit books – out now. I received a review copy from NetGalley (thanks NetGalley and Orbit 🙂 )

Very short review today – please see my review for the first book in this series here.

5/5 – The Broken God continues to build on the excellence of the other books in The Black Iron Legacy series and – unsurprisingly – leaves me desperate to see what Hanrahan will do with the overarching narrative. It’s flipping fantastic.

Read it. Well, start with The Gutter Prayer, then move onto The Shadow Saint, and then read this. This series should be a staple for any modern fantasy reader – and it’s well and truly worthy of a spot in the canon.

The below are high-level, spoiler-free thoughts. In short, read the book.

Highlights:

  • Story itself and its many different links – various threads, both new and continuations of previous instalments, mean that the narrative never gets old – and they’re interwoven just at the right intervals so you never forget what’s going on with character X and can link things up between plot points Y and Z. Basically, Hanrahan tells a multilayered, complex narrative without making reading it feel like work.
  • Worldbuilding is amazing – this won’t surprise anyone. We are introduced to new powers/godly abilities/political intrigue etc, with old threads reinforced and built on. In all honesty with the sheer scale of the worldbuilding in books 1 and 2, Hanrahan didn’t need to redesign the wheel here, but the new bits and bobs thrown in to keep things fresh and interesting. Minimal spoilers (but potentially spoilers all the same) – we see at least one new hybrid ‘species’ (freaked me out a bit when we first saw them to be honest!), different interactions with gods, and the authority/strength of gods. The worldbuilding shows an expansive imagination, and the ability to pull the different elements together so well is why Hanrahan is one of my favourite authors of all time.
  • Characters. In short, they’re well developed and at this point, returning characters are becoming familiar (in a good way! It means we can pre-judge and guess what decisions they will make and how they’re going to react to certain stimuli). New characters are quickly established and built on with sufficient detail – including at least one new ‘point of view’ (ish) character who quickly became one of my favourite focus points in the series. If I had one criticism in this area it’s that there are a small number of characters that I’m desperate to learn more about (maybe in future books – probably not for some of them, though) – this speaks more to Hanrahan’s ability to build an intriguing cast rather than accidentally leave some insufficiently undeveloped. I just want more exploration into some of them – what is that godly person doing? What’s that spy up to? Or that mastermind (are they still a mastermind?).
  • The ‘x’ factor – I don’t know what it is, but reading these books puts me in the mindset I used to have as a young lad watching cartoons and playing games – a genuine sense of wonder and excitement about the sheer scope of the story and the magic involved. After some of the bombshells in the previous books, readers never really know what’s going to go down here. Well, potential readers, you will not be disappointed, let me tell you that for free. 
    • NB: similar vibes to the ‘power up’ scenes seen in things like Dragonball Z – or in literature the acceptance and shoulders of new powers and strengths in Sanderson’s The Stormlight Archives series – but with less certainty that the changes will be positive. Truly fantastic.
  • Overall writing – Hanrahan knows what he’s doing and his methodological writing, whilst not overly flowery, has a good deal of variety in terms of style and presents his narrative with great clarity. There were no pacing issues and it really felt like every page contributed to the story overall – that’s quite rare.

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