cover image A Plague of Giants: Seven Kennings, Book 1

A Plague of Giants: Seven Kennings, Book 1

Kevin Hearne. Del Rey, $28.99 (640p) ISBN 978-0-345-54860-3

Urban fantasist Hearne (the Iron Druid Chronicles) stumbles badly in his first epic fantasy novel, which fails to make good use of elements borrowed from real-world cultures. An illusionist bard who can take on the appearance of the person whose story he is retelling recounts the events of a year prior: a volcanic eruption disrupts the years of peace among the nations of Teldwen, heralding the coming of two races of pale giants: one from a known nation looking for refuge after the destruction of their island, and another of unknown origin whose mission seems to be looting and slaughtering. The story is imaginative and engrossing, but some readers won’t look kindly on the inclusion of one nation that uses the guise of being refugees to mask an attempt at invasion and another with clear South Asian influence, the portrayal of which centers around foul odor, poverty, and the lack of magical ability. (When one does acquire magic, he uses it to become a snake charmer.) The pale Hathrim are depicted as sympathetic even after they invade another nation, take their land, and start a war. The inclusion of an additional narrator whose importance is unclear just adds to the muddle. This is an altogether disappointing first glimpse into Hearne’s Seven Kennings series. (Oct.)