Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Hammer of Fate, the first in G. N. Gudgion’s Rune Song series!
Book: Hammer of Fate
Author: G.N. Gudgion
Pub Day: June 1st, 2023
About the Book:
“No surrender. No retreat.” With twenty enemy swords at their backs and a broken bridge ahead, the last knights of an outlaw order turn to fight. A young woman with forbidden magic joins their final stand. And as blade meets blade, she starts to sing…
Adelais was raised in the far north, learning stories of the old gods and the skill of weaving runes into magic. Now, she is locked in a convent far from home, forced to kneel to a foreign god.
When inquisitors arrive with plans to torture an innocent man, Adelais cannot stand by. She aids an attack to free the prisoner and joins the raiders as they flee into the night.
Her new companions are the last of the Guardians—once a powerful holy order, now ragged fugitives, hunted almost to extinction.
The knights carry a secret treasure, precious and powerful enough to shape kingdoms. Their pursuers, desperate to possess it, will crush any who stand in their way.
Nowhere is safe—in city or chateau, on the road or in the wilds. And even disguised as a boy, Adelais draws attention wherever she goes. Is she angel or demon, priestess or witch?
Adelais must summon all her courage and all her memories of the old gods’ magic as the noose tightens around her and a thunderous final reckoning approaches.
Discover a thrilling new series, with a rich world and action that will leave you breathless. Hammer of Fate is inspired by Viking magic, medieval combat, and the fall of the Templar knights—perfect for fans of Mark Lawrence, Andrzej Sapkowski and Robin Hobb.
Excellent start to a new trilogy!
Gudgion creates a world based on the medieval era, drawing from Norse mythology and the tradition of the Knights Templar to craft his characters and setting. This made it very easy for me to sink into the book and enjoy the story without having to also focus on the logistics of how things worked.
And what a story! We’ve got a novice nun longing for home, political machinations, religious persecution, conflict between faiths old and new, action, magic, even a touch of romance. The story is told from three points of view: Adelais; Guy, the son of the prisoner rescued from torture; and Pateras Malory, one of the king’s anakritim, responsible for torturing those who don’t follow what the king deems to be the true faith.
When Adelais helps rescue a former Guardian from torture by the anakritim, she finds herself fleeing with the last few of that holy order. The anakritim seek the treasure the Guardians supposedly hold, and they have no qualms about obliterating the Guardians to get their hands on it.
The characters are relatable. Adelais longs for home, for the faith of her people. She questions whether she should use the rune song she was learning from Yrsa, as she is untrained. Will she bring down ruin on her companions, or will she be their salvation? Guy wants vengeance for his father’s death, and exercising patience is hard for him to do. Malory tries to do his job well, but he wrestles with the question of whether he is truly on the side of right in the matter. Malory is a refreshing foil to chief torturer Ghislain Barthram. Barthram is almost a caricature, so single-minded in pursuit and so devoted to his craft is he. It’s good to see that becoming a torturer for the king doesn’t relieve Malory of all his human decency.
The description compares this book to the work of Andrzej Sapkowski, author of The Witcher books. I haven’t read any of his Witcher stories, but I have read The Tower of Fools. I see some of the same epic fantasy elements here, but The Tower of Fools had a satirical, comic thread that this story does not. Reynevan, the main character in that book, was an idiot, and this often led to some very humorous moments. Adelais is not (and this is a good thing! I like Adelais!). Before the story ends, there is a question of whether she is a heretic or one touched by the hand of God, whether she has practiced magic that deserves death or whether a miracle has been wrought. She is smart enough to make use of the tools she has at hand and work them to her benefit.
The story took a minute to really pull me in, but once it got going, I had a hard time putting it down. I’m anxious to read the next in the series to see if Adelais makes it home!
Thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for a review copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.
About the author:
G.N. Gudgion (‘Geoff’) grew up with his nose in a book, often one featuring knights in armour. A later search for stories where women didn’t have to be either beautiful damsels or witches led him to the fantasy genre and the works of Guy Gavriel Kay and Mark Lawrence.
After Geoff gave up a business career to write, it was natural to gravitate to historical fantasy, to stories with complex, conflicted characters that a reader can bleed with, cry for, and perhaps fall in love with. They live in worlds where you can smell the sweat and the sewers, as well as the roses.
Geoff lives in a leafy corner of England, where he’s a keen amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. He spends much of his time crafting words in a shed, fifty yards and five hundred years from his house.
He is also the author, as Geoffrey Gudgion, of supernatural thrillers Saxon’s Bane (Solaris, 2020) and Draca (Unbound, 2020).