Godkiller by Hannah Kaner

February 3, 2023

You are not welcome here, godkiller

Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.

Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

Some fantasy for you all this week, the first book in a new series from a new author. Godkiller by Hannah Kaner is a tale of secrets, lies and troubled souls.

Due to a traumatic childhood event, and the hard years that have followed, Kissen has closed herself off from the outside world. She has crafted a brittle, abrasive exterior.  She has been let down so many times before and steadfastly refuses to let anyone in. No one is going to get the chance to hurt Kissen again. Put it this way, if I looked in a dictionary for the textbook definition of stand-offish there is a good chance her picture would be staring back at me. Kissen’s chosen profession? She’s a godkiller, a blade for hire, tasked with dispatching any deity found within the kingdom. She has quite the reputation, and the good news is that she has the skills to back it up. I think it is fair to say she kicks all manner of ass. Kissen is also not one to mince words. I warmed to her matter-of-fact attitude to life immediately.

Elogast is one of those stoic, principled types who believe in duty over all else. He lives a pained existence having walked away from a leader he had pledged his sword to. Every day, the ever-growing sense of his failings gnaw away at him. Given the opportunity to redeem himself, Elogast can’t help but be drawn back into his former life. His strict code of honour demands it.

The final member of this dysfunctional little trifecta is Inara. In a land where gods are killed on sight, having a celestial being hiding out in your pocket probably isn’t the greatest idea. It doesn’t matter that Skedi, the supernatural entity in question, is only the god of white lies, he is still undeniably a god. There is steel in Inara’s character that felt palpable. Circumstance forces her to grow up quickly. I particularly like the moments where we see flashes of the woman she is going to become.

The relationship that evolves between Kissen, Elogast and Inara is what lies at the heart of the story. Each character is trying to find a sense of purpose in their respective lives. Their journey brings them together, but also forces them to confront their fears. Both Elogast and Kissen have been running from their inner demons for so long that there is a whole heap of emotional baggage to unpack. Add some real demons into the mix for good measure, and you just know things are going to get more than a little complicated.

Don’t worry though action fans. Yes, there is plenty of insightful characterisation in Godkiller but there are also some deliciously tense fights. Kissen will happily indulge the base side of her nature and send any godling screaming back to oblivion in a suitably violent fashion. If in addition there is an opportunity to get paid during the process then so much the better. Kaner deftly balances the emotive elements and visceral bloodshed. This is such self-assured writing I had to keep reminding myself this is her debut.

Godkiller delivers exactly what the first book in any series should, it gives us a captivating beginning. I was quickly caught up in the adventure. Where this story excels over some of its contemporaries is by perfectly capturing the human elements of the story. Kissen, Elogast and Inara are each driven by their own grief. The writing explores some complex and intensely personal issues. Kissen does what she thinks is right, Elogast does what he thinks is right and so does Inara. If everyone is right, why are they all at loggerheads with one another? Godkiller is a story ultimately about the cost of the choices we make. In life, we make decisions and whether they are right or wrong we all have to deal with the consequences.

I thoroughly enjoyed Hannah Kaner’s first novel and look forward to more. I’m always pleased when I find a new author whose writing I immediately connect with.

Godkiller is published by Harper Voyager and is available now.

My musical recommendation to accompany Godkiller is the soundtrack to The Wheel of Time by Lorne Balfe. It perfectly captures the novel’s tone by managing to be epic in scope in one moment and then introspective and thoughtful in the next.



One Comment

  • russell1200 February 9, 2023 at 4:05 pm

    I like what one of the US Amazon reviewers said “everyone loves a somewhat snarky sword wielding woman” LOL

    Fortunately, it isn’t one of those anachronistically timed books that has a different release for the US versus UK, so I can get it easily.

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