|Series: The Heretic Gods #2
|Date of Publishing: December 12th 2019
|Number of Pages: 596
Quote of the Book
“I’m going to kill you,” Ivana said through clenched teeth. “I am—I am literally going to kill you.”
Vaughn seemed justifiably alarmed. “All right. Let’s calm down and think this through.”
“This is your fault! Go visit the gods, you say, like it’s a merry jaunt to your gods-damned kindly grandmother’s house!”
Vaughn spread his hands. “How was I supposed to know it would take us to the abyss?
Book Two of The Heretic Gods
Demonspawn. Gifted. Godtouched. Banebringers are called by many names, but will they ever be called human?
After being exposed by Vaughn and the Ichtaca, the Conclave has now cast off all pretense and seized the reins of power in the Setanan Empire—and they just might have a god on their side.
Vaughn is thrust into the center of this conflict. While the Ichtaca seek political allies, he seeks a way to counter the might of a god. But the only lead he has is written in a language no one understands, and time is running out.
Ivana wants nothing more than to be left alone, but her past has a way of finding her. With the Setanan Empire falling apart around her, she’ll have to make a decision that will determine more than just her own destiny.
Thank you to the Carol Park for supplying a copy for review.
Song of the Book
I had an angrier song in mind but this fit the turmoil in Ivanna’s head better.
Girl by Maren Morris
I was really excited for this one because Sweetblade was such a solid follow-up/prequel to Banebringer and I was looking forward to seeing which direction Carol A. Park took Cursebreaker after some of the more interesting discoveries in Banebringer – particularly to do with the Blood Magic’s, Aether and its potential uses.
The Conclave, following the discovery of their recent actions, has dropped all pretenses and taken control of Weylyn city; even requiring blood tests to gain entry or departure to and from the city. The Conclave is positioned well – with the King bowing to them they essentially control the Setanan Army.
The Ichtaca are looking for allies against their enemies and are willing to share their gifts and knowledge. Prejudices are making it difficult to gain any ground but the people are starting to see that the Conclave and its leaders are bordering on tyranny, and the “demon-spawned banebringers” may be the lesser of the two evils.
Vaughn and Ivana are reunited, when Vaughn seeks her help with the translation of half a book discovered in the Weylyn Library. This discovery – if it turns out to be as good as Vaughn hopes, might give them the edge they need against the Conclave and their supporters.
The translation gives Vaughn the excuse he needed to get in touch with Ivanna and it gives Ivanna a unique opportunity to dole out some retribution for some past misdeeds.
There is a lot happening on so many levels in this story.
We are seeing the fall-out from the events in Banebringer, the forces are gathering (so to speak) and it’s time to choose a side. Also, the borders are widening as we learn about some of the other cultures and gain a new character in Driskell, who plays a fairly a large role in the story.
The scope of this world felt like it grew quite a bit and even took a direction I wasn’t expecting with Vaughn and Ivanna’s findings from the translation. This added an interesting little twist to one of characters stories and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the turn.
I did wish there was a little more to do with the magic because it is still one of the most interesting magic systems I have read. At this point there wasn’t a huge amount of impact to their discoveries about the aether. Mostly their findings were being used to help temper an alliance between the people, which is fair since this story follows fairly soon after book one and the findings aren’t widely known yet.
I had mixed feelings on the new character, Driskell. It’s not a new thing to add a character in a second book and his position as Nahua’s scribe gave us insight to some of the politics and pieces of the story that would be missing without him. In that way I didn’t mind him and getting to see more of the world view through him. But at the same time during the time getting to know him, his life, his people, etc, I kept wanting to get back to Vaughn and Ivanna or even Danton and Aleena, who I liked a lot, knew from book one, and was excited for their return. Eventually Driskell grew on me but it did take awhile.
On a personal level – In other words ‘will they make up or won’t they’ (let’s face it, this is the question we all want the answer to)
Vaughn and Ivana have a lot of feelings for each other that need to be addressed and it’s a slow process because before we can get to those feelings, Ivanna especially, needs to come to terms with the regrets and anger that the decisions of a past life left her trying to bury. She has a lot of baggage she’s packing around.
Ivanna and Vaughn’s baggage is similar – both are dealing with regrets over the loss of their families (just in different circumstances) and both with feelings that they are monsters.
There are a lot of walls that need to come down between the two and we are still trying to get across the moat but (to continue with the analogy) the bridge does seem to be in place now.
To sum it up (because this isn’t the most cohesive review I have written – there is just so much I wanted to touch on)
All in all, this is a good entry into the series with lots of interesting turns to the plot and some good character growth, maybe not a huge step in relationship growth for the two of them, but there is one and that’s a good sign.
I didn’t think this story was quite as smooth as Sweetblade, but that was also a less complicated story, purely focused on Ivanna’s backstory – who the author knows very well as a character and it showed in the confident writing. You see glimpses of that confidence here but there are also moments of that careful writing too, that doesn’t feel as assured as the rest.
I’ll be curious to see how this wraps up in the next book or if it’ll take a couple to gather all the threads.