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ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
Cover art illustrated by: Thea Dumitriu
The Broken God by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: The Black Iron Legacy (Book #3 of 5)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 578 pages (Paperback edition)
Published: 20th May 2021 by Orbit (UK) & 18th May 2021 by Orbit (US)
The Broken God continues The Black Iron Legacy’s reputation as one of the most imaginative ongoing fantasy series right now.
First of all, thank you so much to Gareth Hanrahan for including a detailed summary of the previous two books on his website; I wish this is a norm, and if it is, it would be much easier for me to continue reading a series without feeling lost. Secondly, I was a bit sad that Richard Anderson didn’t return to do the cover art for this book, but Thea Dumitriu did a great job doing the new cover art. Lastly, I have been sitting on this review for a few days. This isn’t an easy review for me to write; I can’t seem to feel right with what I wanted to convey within my review as spoiler-free as possible.
The Broken God is the third book in The Black Iron Legacy series by Gareth Hanrahan, and it was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year. The first book in the series, The Gutter Prayer, is one of my favorite debuts of all time; the sequel to it, The Shadow Saint, was a political installment that almost matched the quality of the first book, in my opinion. The Broken God, however, is my least favorite volume in the series so far.
But allow me to start with the things I loved first. I absolutely loved Cari’s POV chapters; Cari didn’t appear much in The Shadow Saint, and it gave me joy that The Broken God featured her as one of the main characters again. And not only Cari returns as one of the POV characters, but Hanrahan’s decision to put her away from Guerdon was also a brilliant move. I totally didn’t expect Cari’s story to be an intimate dive into her background and origin story. We found out about Cari’s past friends and also how she met Spar and Rat. In her journey to find the legendary land of Khebesh, amidst the conflicts with the criminal dragons of Ghierdhana, in Cari’s POV chapters we also get to witness more display of Hanrahan’s breathtaking imagination. Seriously, some of the scenes exhibited in her POV chapters—or the entire book, really—were downright cruel, epic, and jaw-dropping. The characters Cari met in her chapters definitely enhanced my investment in her compelling characterizations and narrative. Artoro, the new villain in this book, was so insane and loyal towards achieving his revenge that tensions in the text were successfully pulled off. Cari’s and Artoro’s POV chapters were thoroughly captivating, and the highly fascinating world-building, divine powers, and creatures of the series showed Hanrahan’s storytelling capability at his best again.
So what went wrong for me? The two other new POV characters, and the climax sequences. Similar to The Shadow Saint, and quite likely the rest of the series, Hanrahan continues to introduce new characters as POV characters here. But unlike the character of The Spy in The Shadow Saint, which I ended up loving, things seem to turn the other way around with Rasce and Baston. I was interested in these two characters at first, but as the story goes on, it gets increasingly difficult for me to feel invested in their chapters. Their characterizations felt forced, and their motivations fluctuated too much; their actions felt unbelievable at times. Lastly, the climax sequences. One of the greatest things about The Black Iron Legacy series is in the climax sequences. The Gutter Prayer and The Shadow Saint have a memorable and epic climax sequences. As for The Broken God, after all the great build-up leading towards the final pages, things just sort of… ended unsatisfyingly. Also, I feel inclined to mention, please do not expect anything amazing to come out of Cari’s journey to Khebesh. As much as I enjoyed the characterizations of Cari’s here, I wish the result of her journey to Khebesh was more satisfying.
Honestly speaking, giving The Broken God a rating below 4 stars is painful to me, but I have to always be honest with my rating and review. This isn’t to say that The Broken God wasn’t a good book. As always, Hanrahan’s imagination blessed this book, Cari’s characterization was compelling, and the world-building was incredible; I’m definitely still a fan of the series. But The Broken God pales in comparison to the brilliance of The Gutter Prayer and The Shadow Saint, and I hope the next book in the series will bring the series back to its full glory. Right now, I’m still not too sure regarding the status of the series being extended into a five books series; there’s a definite middle book syndrome here. On the positive side, though, I totally have no idea where the series will go from here, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the future will be a bright one.
You can order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping) | The Broken Binding (Use my code: NOVELNOTIONS121 for discount!)
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