““The right?” My voice rose. “The air we breathe gives me the right, the soil beneath my feet. I am born of this land, just as you are.““
So what’s the book about?
They think they’ve killed the last of us… 981 AD. The Viking King of Dublin is dead. His young widow, Gormflaith, has ambitions for her son—and herself—but Ireland is a dangerous place and kings tend not to stay kings for long. Gormflaith also has a secret. She is one of the Fomorians, an immortal race who can do fire-magic. She has kept her powers hidden at all costs, for there are other immortals in this world—like the Tuatha Dé Danann, a race of warriors who are sworn to kill Fomorians. Fódla is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann with the gift of healing. Her kind dwell hidden in a fortress, forbidden to live amongst the mortals. Fódla agrees to help her kin by going to spy on Brian Boru, a powerful man who aims to be High King of Ireland. She finds a land on the brink of war—a war she is desperate to stop. However, preventing the loss of mortal lives is not easy with Ireland in turmoil and the Fomorians now on the rise…
““Nobody cares about my thoughts or ideas.” “And why is that?” “Because I am a woman.” “That’s not true. You just need to work harder to make the men around you listen.”“
These aspects attracted me the most while reading.
- Witches, druids, immortals – all the things I always wait for in a fantasy book and finally I get my mystical beings, this was also the reason why I was looking forward to the book so much. It delivers what many fantasy stories lack, the mytic beings we all love after all. And even though both main characters have a magical power, this was more a side aspect in the otherwise real world. In particular Fódla was able to convince me, because she has a very special ability that I love in fantasy stories, she is a healer. And even if this magic is just a touch in this world, this story seems more like a legend from ancient times. Of course, this feeling also comes from the fact that this is part of the story of Ireland, which I honestly have no idea about, but this knowledge is not needed to enjoy the story. So political intrigue, religion and magical gifts have been intertwined so well that a world all of its own has been created after all. This mystical feeling is then paired with battles that could have come from Last Kingdom. Full of pain and blood, the battles are fought and the pace of the story is so fast that you can and MUST read this book in one day (which I did, of course). From chapter to chapter there is so much to experience that the pages just fly by, but it is told in such a way that you can build a strong connection to the world and characters. Shauna Lawless knows exactly how to keep her readers captivated in her world.
- Two strong women who couldn’t be more different made me feel strong as a woman myself. Because even though these two women live in a world dominated by men, they have their very own weapons to stand against them. Gormflaith, unlike Fódla, is an evil bitch who is just trying to get her own way. She goes over dead bodies to carry out her intrigues and is too shrewd that no one could believe her beautiful appearance to do such a thing. Cunning as a fox, she shows men how to dominate the field. Even though Gormflaith seems evil, you can sometimes detect a hint of humanity, though I’m still not sure if she’s just telling herself that or if it’s the truth. There seems to be more to her than meets the eye. Fódla is the opposite of Gormflaith, no less intelligent, but not as cunning. Emotionally, she cares for her loved ones and also for the world outside her family – which is actually forbidden. She shows us that there is still much good in the world and she does her best to defy it and still stay with her origins, even if these two things are not always in harmony. I could sympathise with Fódla because it is not always easy to do the right thing and sometimes you just have to let your feelings guide you to do the right thing for yourself. The contrast between these two personalities gave each page an extraordinary tension. And even though I sympathise more with Fódla, I also liked reading about the rather shrewd Gormflaith.
- The book could ask many important questions, which nevertheless still remain partly unanswered. Fódla could represent this well with her chapters, whether one holds on to old traditions and rules, although this is not for the goodwill of all mankind. Fódla is also always conflicted about whether she should hold on to them or whether she should break new ground. But even if she has the considerations, she must think of her family and therefore hold on to them. Her sister is contesting the very path that is forbidden to them, because she does not distinguish herself from the humans. She believes that all beings are equal and also leaves her sister more and more doubtful about these traditions. The issue of religion could also take up the theme, because we are also shaped by history and remain faithful to the religion that our families have given us. What decision Fódla will make I do not know yet, but I hope that she breaks out of her chains, and goes her own way.
“Promises were hard for him to make. Promises led to actions, and actions led to death, especially when you were a warrior Descendant.“
So what are my final thoughts about it?
This is one of those books that you just can’t put down and want to stay in the world and with the characters until the end. It’s full of relatable characters, mystical magic, and blood-pumping action and interwoven poltics that all blend together so believably. By the end, I not only wanted to know more about the characters and their futures, but also more about the mythology in general that the book is based on. At times I just would have liked some situations to be savored longer so I could empathize more, but despite everything this was a very emotional adventure. This book strikes a chord with many readers, be it Historical Fiction, Epic Fantasy or even just Fiction. Because the focus is on a lot of fantastic things, but also on problems that are also important in our society, everyone can read this book and love it – just like I do. I hope the second book comes out soon as my many questions need to be answered!
Thank you Head of Zeus and Ad Astra for the ARC.
The Children of Gods and Fighting Men is out September 1st!
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