“You are not welcome here, Godkiller” is a simple statement that piqued my curiosity when I opened the package that included Hannah Kaner’s upcoming fantasy debut. I was so intrigued that I opted to read Godkiller next. I’m content that I did as this release is a fascinating and engaging dark fantasy adventure reminiscent of Sapkowski’s The Witcher series. It is extremely well-written, features excellent pacing and contains some wonderful twists.
The action picks up some time after a momentous event in this world, the killing of the majority of the gods under the King’s orders. Although things seem pretty settled at the moment, there are rumours of a civil war, political unrest, civilians who miss the gods, and there are strange happenings that have taken place. This all causes a few of our main characters’ paths to cross – following a secret request from the king – culminating in the necessity for a quest to the ruined city of Blenraden. A lot has happened previously in Kaner’s fantasy world and the details, mythology, and the positions that the gods play are all revealed neatly and gradually as the tale progresses.
Whilst reading Godkiller, we follow four different points of view. Two of them are reluctant legends in their own fields, both were active and influential throughout the god war, and are now just generally plodding along. They find themselves in a position that is similar to how Ringil begins in The Steel Remains. Kissen is the titular Godkiller and her occupation is pretty self-explanatory. She doesn’t like gods much and will kill them for a fee. Elogast is currently a baker, yet his previous occupation was as one of the King’s most trusted Knights. We also follow Inara, a young noble lady who the majority of the nobility don’t seem to know exists, and finally her bonded god companion Skedi, the god of white lies.
All the points of view are interesting; their past experiences, flaws, and vulnerabilities revealed to the reader as they’re detailed to the other main characters. Inara and Skedi’s connection and the god’s past are shrouded in mystery, as it should not be possible for a god to survive without a shrine and the love and dedication of followers.
Regarding what to expect, Godkiller includes an LGBTQ+ lead, main characters who struggle with mental illness, a point of view character who has a prosthetic leg, other important disabled characters, and this world’s equivalent of sign language. All of these aspects fit seamlessly and enhance the story and the characters around them. We also have incredible set pieces, romance, betrayals, showdowns, curses, tragic loss, demons, and an amazing ending. Little statements and seemingly unimportant details come to be of the utmost importance later on, so Godkiller is absolutely a rewarding novel for those that pay attention.
Godkiller delivers an impressive fantasy world, the way the gods are presented is unique, and, as previously mentioned, the fact that the mythology and history are delivered at a steady pace hints that this series has a lot more of its secrets yet to reveal. Kaner’s debut reads similar to one of Sapkowski’s short stories or the stand-alone Season of Storms in that it’s self-contained, follows a few main characters on an adventure, and that it feels like we’re only witnessing a small yet exciting part of what’s going on in a massive, vivid world.
At around 300 pages, it’s quite a short read for epic fantasy and I truly hope that Kaner builds on this credible platform that showcases great potential. My only minor complaint is that due to Godkiller’s short length, some of the exchanges and events seem a bit too neat and coincidental. In light of this point, I’d personally like the series’ next entry to expand, include more point-of-view characters, to show us what is happening elsewhere in the world concurrently, adding extra depth, and drama, and becoming even more impressive. Happenings have truly heated up by the end of the novel, and so I will trust the author’s vision and I’ll definitely read what comes next.