Review: The Broken God

Posted: June 21, 2023 by in Books We Love (4.6/5 single_star) Meta: Gareth Hanrahan, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy

I feel like I owe Gareth Hanrahan an apology. I mean, that review I put up for his most recent book– Yeah. Not exactly the brightest shining star in the firmament. Not that I’m going to apologize for my opinion on it. Nope. Just that I ended up leaving it at the top of our site for the past two weeks. Totally meant to get this review up more quickly than I did to hopefully overshadow some of the negativity I’d left hanging around. Because, I think this guy has a stellar imagination and knows his stuff, and up until that most recent book I’ve thought that everything I’d read from him was pretty impressive. So, even though my review for this book will absolutely be spot-on as to what I thought about it in particular (no apologies, remember?), hopefully it’ll also help to wash away any lingering bad taste left in our reader’s mouths with regard to his stuff in general.

Because, MAN, this one was abso-freaking-awesome-tastic and you really need to read it (and the rest of the series, if you haven’t) right now.

THE BROKEN GOD is the third in The Black Iron Legacy, and definitely not the last book in the series. Not a trilogy! Huzzah! From what I understand there are supposed to be five books in the series, but because of the way it was contracted, the last two books haven’t yet been given the impetus to be written. i.e., if the author writes them at this point, he could be writing it simply for his own pleasure, as there’s no promise yet that he might get paid for the thing. Gah! Pay this man!

Likely one of the most startling things about the second book in this series, THE SHADOW SAINT, was the fact that sooooo much of the story was told from completely new perspectives. I mean like, completely new. Like, POVs from characters that we didn’t even know existed after reading the first. So, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that this next book would follow after the second and throw another batch of new characters at us. But, it kind of was. And although there were really a *lot* of POVs in this book, the majority of the story gets funneled through a few in particular.

Cari‘s back! After leading the way in THE GUTTER PRAYER and having taken a dip into the realm of secondary characters in THE SHADOW SAINT, we get to follow Cari some more as she continues in her attempts to save Spar and the city he… inhabits. This journey ends up being absolutely fantastic as she leaves Guerdon to seek help from the far-flung mage city of Khebesh with the help of some old pirate “friends”. Through her, we begin to see more of the godswar that is raging across so much of her world.

Rasce is one of the invading army of the Gheirdana, a nation ruled by mighty dragons. He’s been placed in Guerdon with a simple task: monopolize the market on yliaster, a substance of prime importance to the work done by the alchemists of the city. If the Gheirdana control the yliaster, they control the alchemists, and thus the city. His is a political game with the theme of say… The Godfather.

THE BROKEN GOD is another fantastic entry in this series that continues to defy my expectations. Bigger and better than most, by a long shot.

Baston is a member of the Brotherhood to which Spar’s father once belonged. They are still playing a mighty part in the complex dance that has overrun the city, between the citizens of Guerdon, and the other two invading forces, which all sit in a quasi-armistice. That is, until someone eventually tips the balance and sends the city into war again. Elladora Duttin and her pal Sinter hire Baston to infiltrate the Gheirdana, which he’s not particularly excited about, but they’re awfully convincing.

The amount of plotting and scheming and detail that went into the creation of this book is quite the feat in and of itself. Let alone, having the ability to portray each of these various parties in such a way that they all weave together into such a beautiful tapestry. Just like in SHADOW SAINT, this book takes a while to build up, as the layers of each faction in this tale are prepared and interwoven in turn. Spar continues to play for time by trying to influence both Baston and Rasce, while Cari is off fighting her way across the ocean for a chance to save the city, and ultimately her friend, Spar. For, despite the complexity of each of the stories told within the book, it is ultimately in the motivations of the characters that this plot is driven. As Cari fights to find salvation for Spar. As Rasce races to prove Great Uncle Taras, that he is worthy of the honor of serving the Gheirdana beneath the mighty dragon rulers. As Baston tries desperately to be true to his city and the people that he loves while remaining close to those that would tear apart everything they have built.

Similar to previous entries in the series, this one also drives the story mercilessly forward. One of the difficulties I had with GUTTER PRAYER was a lack of clarity as to what was going on as everything started to hit the fan. Not so here. Each of the motivations driving the characters were clear throughout. It was a simple matter to see why each piece of the plot puzzle led to the next, and as it all started to come together, I literally couldn’t keep myself from smiling. So. Much. Fun.

If I have anything critical to say about this book, it might be about the ending. When all the threads finally came crashing together, it was nothing short of spectacular. Seriously didn’t want the thing to end. And then there were like 80 pages of trail-off that just kind of fizzled for me. Felt like that denouement took a lot longer to complete than it should have. But still. That last battle. Just whoa.

Anyone out there looking for well-wrought characters? Complex world-building? Staggering imagination? And all put together to impressive degree by someone that absolutely has the chops to be doing so? Look no further.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Strong and pretty frequent, thanks to Cari
  • Violence: Gets pretty bloody, but nothing Abercrombie-esque or anything
  • Sex: Nothing particularly memorable

Why is there no audiobook here, Audible? There is so much crap out there with an audio version these days, and this one totally deserves the effort all on its own, despite the drek surrounding it. Lift the tide. Record this book for us!

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