A Blight of Blackwings: Deploy the tactical moths

A Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsA Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsA Blight of Blackwings by Kevin Hearne

A Blight of Blackwings is the second novel in Kevin Hearne’s SEVEN KENNINGS series, following A Plague of Giants which you’ll need to read first because this novel jumps in right where the first one left off. Hearne uses the same structure and frame story, with Fintan the bard using a magical device to turn himself into the image of each point-of-view character.

At the end of A Plague of Giants, the bard dropped a bombshell on the crowd listening to his story, informing them that there’s a traitor in their midst — someone working with the invading Bone Giants. The crowd is angry at the unknown traitor, and they also realize that their ruler must know more about the situation than he’s telling. Now we’re on Day 20 of the bard’s story.

In addition to most of our favorites from the last book we’ve got some additional main point-of-view characters in this installment:

  • Olet, firelord and daughter of an oppressive firelord. She wants a new type of life for their clan and is planning to create an inclusive democracy. But her authoritarian father is chasing her, planning to drag her back home. (Go, Olet!)
  • Koesha, from an unknown island, is captaining an all-female crew on her ship as she looks for her sister. She will make some important discoveries about the world of the seven kennings.
  • Mai Bet Ken, Fornish ambassador in Melishev’s court. Melishev wants her to find a healer to cure his venereal disease. She wants him to uphold his law.
  • Hanima, practitioner of the new (sixth) kenning, controls bees and similar creatures. She and her young allies are ready for a revolution.
  • Tuala, the courier who was with Meara in the previous book. She is suffering from unrequited love, and she has a sad but important role to play in her kingdom’s salvation.
  • Daryck, poetry-publishing leader of a group of mercenaries who’ve lost their families to invading giants and are looking for revenge.

We’re still following our favorites from the last book including Dervan the historian, who is closer to the traitor than he realizes; Abhi the beastmaster, who has connected with Olet’s clan; and Gondel the linguist who keeps getting gifts of mustard from his fans who are listening to the bard’s story. (I love Gondel’s POV and I geekily enjoyed hearing about how he interprets texts.)

By this point in the story we’re well beyond the initial invasions and our heroes and villains are dealing with recovery, rebuilding, and revolution. As the bard says, change won’t happen without conflict, and there’s a lot of it here on multiple fronts.

There are also some answers. At the beginning of A Blight of Blackwings we still don’t know what the Bone Giants are looking for, though that begins to become clear by the end. Some of the answers are surprising, some are quite frightening. There are enough answers to satisfy, but there is still plenty more to be revealed in the final SEVEN KENNINGS book, A Curse of Krakens, which is due out in early 2021.

Everything I said about A Plague of Giants continues to hold true here. The world-building and magic system are admirable, the more modern and diverse feel to this medieval style epic is refreshing, and the audio performances by Luke Daniels and Xe Sands are excellent. (The audiobook is 20 hours long.) There’s also just a bit of comedy which is nice because I like Kevin Hearne’s sense of humor.

As before, the huge cast of point-of-view characters impedes the flow a bit and is likely to be an issue for some readers. Some of these characters are less interesting than others, just due to their personalities, but the bard makes a good point that it’s important for the townsfolk, many who are refugees, to hear the stories from different perspectives.

It’s interesting to read the SEVEN KENNINGS novels during the COVID pandemic because the townsfolk have the same sorts of problems that our world currently has: supply chain disruption, loss of jobs, food shortages, hoarding, and questions about the role of local versus national government. As Olet and her allies attempt to develop a totally new society, they’re concerned with issues such as xenophobia, prejudice, discrimination, and abuse of power — the same troubles we’ve always dealth with and that seem magnified during times of suffering.

My favorite line from A Blight of Blackwings: “Deploy the tactical moths.”

Published in 2020. From the New York Times bestselling creator of The Iron Druid Chronicles comes the highly anticipated sequel to A Plague of Giants: A world-breaking war–an invasion of giant warriors–that inspires a movement to fight back. SOLDIER AND AVENGER. Daryck is from a city that was devastated by the war with the Bone Giants, and now he and a band of warriors seek revenge against the giants for the loved ones they lost. But will vengeance be enough to salve their grief? DREAMER AND LEADER. Hanima is part of a new generation with extraordinary magical talents: She can speak to fantastical animals. But when this gift becomes a threat to the powers-that-be, Hanima becomes the leader of a movement to use this magic to bring power to the people. SISTER AND SEEKER. Koesha is the captain of an all-female crew on a perilous voyage to explore unknown waters. Though Koesha’s crew is seeking a path around the globe, Koesha is also looking for her sister, lost at sea two years ago. But what lies beyond the edges of the map is far more dangerous than storms and sea monsters. . . . In this sequel to A Plague of Giants, these characters and more will become the voices of a new generation bringing hope and revolution to a war-torn world..

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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