I received a review copy of the book as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.
Genre: Historical Fantasy Age Range: Adult Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - first book in trilogy
They think they’ve killed the last of us…
981 AD. The Viking King of Dublin is dead. His young widow, Gormflaith, has ambitions for her son – and herself – but Ireland is a dangerous place and kings tend not to stay kings for long. Gormflaith also has a secret. She is one of the Fomorians, an immortal race who can do fire-magic. She has kept her powers hidden at all costs, for there are other immortals in this world – like the Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of warriors who are sworn to kill Fomorians.
Fódla is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann with the gift of healing. Her kind dwell hidden in a fortress, forbidden to live amongst the mortals. Fódla agrees to help her kin by going to spy on Brian Boru, a powerful man who aims to be High King of Ireland. She finds a land on the brink of war – a war she is desperate to stop. However, preventing the loss of mortal lives is not easy with Ireland in turmoil and the Fomorians now on the rise…
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
THE CHILDREN OF GODS AND FIGHTING MEN is a stunner of a historical fantasy novel, weaving magic into the real event of late 10th century Ireland as kings vie for power, and two magical groups of people play long games of power.
I love historical fantasy, particularly one that takes real events and adds magic – which this does. The book probably veers more on the historical side than the fantastical, but I really enjoyed that. I love history and the 10th century in Northern Europe as a whole is one of shifting powers and cultural clashes between the Vikings and the people they settle with finding ways to live together or resist. Against this constantly shifting (in terms of dominance) cultural background is set a story of women trying to survive the upheavals of power struggles – and shape it for their own ends.
The book is told from the perspective of two women, Fódla and Gormflaith, both of whom have power they keep hidden. Gormflaith is the one really getting her hands stuck in to the politics, manoeuvring the men around her. I loved how unashamedly she pursued her goals and used everyone to make her (and her son’s) position secure. She knew what she wanted and was ruthless in pursuit of it.
Fódla by contrast observes. She’s there to spy but has preconceived notions instilled by her magical community that are broken down as she starts to question some of their rules. Through her we get this hope for peace and stability as she’s so full of compassion but also instilled fear.
They don’t really cross paths in the book, mostly leading very separate lives, only touching each other thanks to the politics they observe (or in Gormflaith’s case, participate in.) Usually, unlinked POVs are something I don’t particularly enjoy (one POV is my favourite and any not linked to them I don’t care about) but their voices and struggles were so richly drawn that I wanted to see more of both of them – and how they’d eventually meet up. And it looks like they’ll be interacting a lot more in the next book.