Fans of Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid stories will be glad to see the start of a new series. While they will recognize Hearne's usual attention to detail and intricate plotting, this time they will be experiencing an entirely new setting. The kennings refer to powers or blessings that individuals from each of the realms may receive after passing through a deadly trial. There are five known kennings, with tales that a sixth and even a seventh may exist but have yet to be found. The five include air, water, earth, fire, and plants. So a person with the air kenning might be able to hold him/herself aloft in the wind and travel without touching the ground, or one with water powers might be able to breathe underwater, etc. The culture of each realm is greatly influenced by these kennings, but it will take all of them to even have a hope of defeating the giants who attack across the continent.
The tale of the invasion and the battles against the giants are told in a unique way by a bard who travels from one realm to another. Along the way he gathers more bits of the story and adds them to his performance, similar in a way to the collected reports and observations of World War Z. The action jumps from one realm to another, with a different key personality as the focus in each area of the conflict. This jumping from scene to scene keeps readers eager to return to favorite characters and their part in the action. In addition to the incredible world building with all the realms, kennings, and cultures, the characters themselves are fascinating and compelling. Whether it is a sedentary scholar caught up in trying to translate the giants' language, or a scout looking for a way to stop the enemy advance, each of them is a distinct and memorable individual.
Readers who enjoy tales of armed combat, mental or supernatural powers, honor and sacrifice should pick up a copy of this book, and then pre-order the next one.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.