Review: A Plague of Giants by Kevin Hearne

 I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Kevin Hearne is an accomplished writer, well versed in fantasy, science fiction, mythology -- the hodge podge of the genre that makes up speculative fiction.  This first book in a new triology, The Seven Kennings, is A Plague of Giants.  In the first pages, the framing of the story is similar to other books taking a narrative from a character and presenting it from a storyteller, historian, or bard.  Getting past this trend, the characters are well developed with histories and purpose beyond the main storyline.  There is a large framework that characters actually live in, and that typically makes for a very good read.

I enjoyed the story, but there were too many language choices that felt contrived.  It reads more like a novice effort instead of from an author with several books and a defined narrative style.  He used typical words in place of titles or talents, and characters that sounded like modern, urban teens when they are in their mid 30s.  The writing felt like a struggle to find everyone their voice, even though they clearly each had histories and societies they grew up in.  I want to think the next book will feel more solid and know what it wants to be.  This story has a lot going for it, but unfortunately it is going all over the place. 

The abstract from the publisher:

From the author of The Iron Druid Chronicles, a thrilling novel that kicks off a fantasy series with an entirely new mythology—complete with shape-shifting bards, fire-wielding giants, and children who can speak to astonishing beasts

MOTHER AND WARRIOR
Tallynd is a soldier who has already survived her toughest battle: losing her husband. But now she finds herself on the front lines of an invasion of giants, intent on wiping out the entire kingdom, including Tallynd’s two sons—all that she has left. The stakes have never been higher. If Tallynd fails, her boys may never become men.

SCHOLAR AND SPY
Dervan is an historian who longs for a simple, quiet life. But he’s drawn into intrigue when he’s hired to record the tales of a mysterious bard who may be a spy or even an assassin for a rival kingdom. As the bard shares his fantastical stories, Dervan makes a shocking discovery: He may have a connection to the tales, one that will bring his own secrets to light. 

REBEL AND HERO
Abhi’s family have always been hunters, but Abhi wants to choose a different life for himself. Embarking on a journey of self-discovery, Abhi soon learns that his destiny is far greater than he imagined: a powerful new magic thrust upon him may hold the key to defeating the giants once and for all—if it doesn’t destroy him first.

Set in a magical world of terror and wonder, this novel is a deeply felt epic of courage and war, in which the fates of these characters intertwine—and where ordinary people become heroes, and their lives become legend.