“It’s an airborne poison, hatred is, for I felt it filling my lungs and contaminating my thoughts. It is how violence thrives and peace withers.”
The Seven Kennings trilogy by Kevin Hearne is an epic fantasy series. It is a masterpiece of world building with a wonderful magic system. I was hooked from the very first chapter.
In 2017 I read A Plague of Giants and was blown away. The book masterfully created a world that felt vibrant and alive. The series title, The Seven Kennings, refers to the seven magical abilities that shape each of the 7 countries on the continent of Teldwen. Each magical ability is different and completely shapes each of the countries and truly makes them unique. I gave the book a 10/10.
There was a bit of a wait between book 1 and 2 but the wait was worth it. A Blight of Blackwings was released in 2020 and is now my favorite book 2 of any series ever. It continues the stellar world building that began in A Plague of Giants and really got into the meat of the plot arc. The book was action packed from beginning to end.
I gave the book a 10/10 and if an 11/10 was a thing this book would have achieved that!
A Curse of Krakens came out in 2023 and finished up the series. I really enjoyed this book and it wrapped the series up in a very satisfying way. I did feel like it might have wrapped things up just a little bit early and began the unveiling of all of the backstory around ¾ of the way through the book. Because of that I gave it an 8.5/10.
The title of the first book, A Plague of Giants, gives us a pretty good idea of what is going to happen. Two separate, and unrelated, invasions by two races of giants force the different countries of the mainland to band together to fight them off. The Hathrim, a known race of 12-14’ tall fire wielding giants, are fleeing a volcanic eruption on their own islands off the coast of the mainland. They invade the only country that does not have its own magical abilities to start off the series. A second race of giants, 9-10’ tall, previously unknown invade in a genocidal attack at the same time as the Hathrim. They attack and destroy several large cities on the opposite coast that the Hathrim invade. While the Hathrim are seeking refuge these mysterious giants seem to have no other agenda but murder.
Each of the seven magical kennings is very different and comes with real costs. In order to receive your magical blessing you have to be willing to sacrifice your life in the hope that your god will bless you with a kenning. The chances run from a horribly low twelve percent to a high of sixty percent.
The Hathrim, a race of giants, must jump into an active volcano. If they are blessed they’ll become fire lords able to wield fire and be immune to its effects. If they are not blessed then they burn to death. The Bryn are their opposites and must jump into a sea flume and swim from one end to the other. If they are blessed they will be able to breathe underwater. The most powerful are even able to pull the blood out of people’s bodies, killing from a distance.
In addition to the high likelihood of death while trying to receive a blessing, using your power too strongly causes the user to age prematurely. If you want your magic to have consequences they don’t come much more dangerous than in this series.
I really loved how the story is told by a character using his own magical ability. The story begins as the people of Brynlan are waiting for relieving armies to arrive and help stop the invasion. One of their cities was saved by a tidal mariner who single handedly wiped out the invading army with her awesome abilities. Refugees have flocked to the city and a Bard who has the magical ability to imitate others tells the backstory of what has happened so far so that everyone is able to understand past events.