Sunbringer by Hannah Kaner
HarperVoyager, HB, £14.53
Reviewed by Mikaela Silk
Kissen has taken her revenge on the god who killed her family. But revenge doesn’t come without a price. Now, more alone than ever and with the world thinking she is dead, Kissen must make her way back home through enemy territory. Along the way, she will try to stop the resurrection of a god and accept help from the most unlikely places.
Meanwhile, Elogast, Inara and Skedi must find a way to live with the knowledge they gained in Blenradden. For Elogast, this means facing a new enemy, one he could never have dreamed of. For Inara, this means embracing her powers and deciding how to use them. For Skedi, this means choosing between the girl who is his home and family and finding new worshipers to become a stronger god. Together with Kissen’s grieving family, they must decide who they can trust and how far they are willing to go.
My only disappointment with this book is the lack of page time that our three main protagonists share. I missed their comradery and cheering on as their bonds developed and deepened. However, I will admit that this separation did give each character a chance to grow in their own right. Kissen faces the most physically challenging and dangerous struggles throughout the book, yet it was her emotional and moral development that most intrigued me. In contrast, Inara’s development focussed a lot on her internal identity crisis, although it was her burgeoning magic which really stole the show. Overall, I think Elo had the least growth as a character. Instead, we got a deeper insight into the person he used to be, enough to hope that some intervention may occur before he moves too much further back into the past.
Due to the split narrative, the plot of this book seems less singular than the first, with a lot of meandering build-up and tension for something that is clearly going to come to a head in the final book. We see the characters working towards the same goal, peace, but in vastly different ways. Much of this is due to the differing information that they each hold. I certainly think Elo and Inara’s journeys would have been less intense had they realised that Kissen still lived. The gods’ involvement also added to this uncertainty as their motives are often unclear, and, more than once, we witness a god admitting to a mistake.
This hint of divine vulnerability builds on the tone of the previous book, making the gods seem much more human than how they were initially portrayed. Skediketh, in particular, struggles with a lot of human-like emotions in this book as he meets more people, and his bond with Inara continues to be tested.
Overall ‘Sunbringer’ is not quite as intense and thrilling as ‘Godkiller’, but it has successfully solidified my high expectations for the trilogy finale. After an explosive introduction to Hannah Kaner’s fantasy world, this book took a slight step back and slowed things down to give us a bit more time to live in that world. Now, I fully expect the third book to tear this world down, just as we have grown accustomed to it, and build it back up again in our protagonists’ image.