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Hammer of God (Godspeaker: Book 3) by Karen…
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Hammer of God (Godspeaker: Book 3) (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Karen Miller

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303736,938 (3.79)14
veracity's review
Karen Miller's writing is always engaging, and 'Hammer of God' is no exception... so why do I feel let down by this book?

The main characters in the first two books were Hekat and Rhian. They each embody the archetype of 'warrior woman' and - in different ways and with different methods - both had to fight overwhelming sexism and patriarchal society to gain ascendancy, despite being the chosen of their respective gods. Hekat, as an unvalued female child in a country where women had no status at all, did not even have a name until she named herself on the day she was sold as a slave. Rhian, as a privileged princess with two older brothers, was discounted as pretty, wilful and spoilt and was valued only for her potential on the marriage market.

Around these women, then, we saw a supporting cast of men of god, men of war and men of political power who variously helped or hindered. On the helpful side, we had Dexterity Jones, a toymaker whom god spoke to through his dead wife, and Zandakar, an exiled prince of Mijak who trained Rhian in personal combat, as well as Vortka, a fellow slave whose rise to Godspeaker cemented Hekat's power. On the hinder side, there was Marlon, the Prolate who sought to use Rhian as a pawn to gain both secular and religious power and Dmitrak, Hekat's despised son who loathes his mother, among others.

In this third book, particularly in its second half, I found it bewilderingly frustrating to watch Rhian and Hekat somewhat sidelined. Oh certainly, Hekat is wielding violent, blood-soaked power and Rhian is valiantly trying to unite the world against Mijak's invading force, which of themselves are huge tasks. But it gradually becomes apparent that the characters whose actions will make the critical difference are - wait for it - MEN. The supporting cast are revealed to be, in fact, the main characters and the agency of our warrior queens is almost stripped from them. Hekat is shown to be aged, physically weakened and misguided, while Rhian’s diplomatic efforts are somewhat ineffective. In the end, the much awaited showdown between two powerful women leading opposing armies is reduced to being merely a backdrop against which the fate of the world is played out, hinged critically on the actions of one man. ( )
3 vote veracity | Aug 12, 2008 |
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English (6)  French (1)  All languages (7)
Showing 6 of 6
Oct11:

Characters: Only Han was really introduced, but all the carry overs are still strong. Han was a very, very good addition though.

Plot: Bleh. Attempts the whole "end of the world" but didn't really give me much tension. Really lame and unfulfilling climax and resolution.

Style: Tries to be rousing but doesn't really get there. Still about the characters. ( )
  Isamoor | Nov 1, 2011 |
Absolutely compelling series. After finishing this series, I'll buy anything Karen Miller writes.
  Anglofile41 | Jun 6, 2011 |
Gives a well-resolved ending to an interesting series. ( )
  cgodsil | Oct 17, 2009 |
The end of a series that's got gradually worse over time I'm afraid. The end of the series was worth reading, and had a few magical moments but was largely rather predictable.

We find out more about Han and the Tzhung-tzhungchai which is... nice but only teasing glimpses and at the same time it's frustrating because it's such a stereotype.

The rest of the story splits roughly evenly between filler that a good editor should have chucked out and some character-driven action that resolves plot-threads or continues the characters in interesting ways. And that too is a shame. We could have had a lot less filler and a more interesting denouement. As it is, the end is really rather predictable from a long way out in just about all of its details.

A nice twist at the end - Hekat winning for example, but changing her ways after she realise Dmitrak has killed Zandakar would make for a more interesting story. ( )
  lewispike | Oct 5, 2009 |
Not as good as it could be.

The previous two books have nicely set up two contrasting heroines - the youthfull Queen Rhian and the now aged ex-slave cum Empress Hekat. Both worship contrasting gods, a manvolant blood consuming active force in the world, and a peaceful rarely seen god who appears as occasional visions. Each previosu book focused almost exclusively on one heroine, so I was expecting / hoping for Hammer of God to be a split viewpoint, following both and contrasting both their viewpoints in a subtle interplay on the grey areas of human power.

Instead we follow almost exclusively Rhian in an almost pedestrian god is good, have faith an we will prevail crusade against the evil of Majik. The opening third is also slowly paced in contrast to the preceding books. Rhian is envoloped in politics as she tries to prove her worth as a young female queen to the various OWM ambassedors, dukes and her consort king. While there is some emotions even the highly charged jealosy inspired by Zandekar comes across as flat.

Meanwhile we get a few snipits of Hekat and Vortka her priest. SOmething seems wrogn about the timelines with these as they are described and act aged, and yet little time has passed since she was a vibrant Empress attempting to rule the world. Not only aged, but dulled. She's lost most of the spark that made the first book appealing, and although she retains much of the pride of being in God's eye, we aren't given anywhere near enough time to re-gain any connection to the character. She's become just another 1D baddie. I was very dissapointed in Vortka. Instead of tedious waffling with Rhian and her courtiers we could have had Vorkta and Hekat arguing about the purpose of god. But instead he just stands about doing nothing in the entire book. Helford is about the only character who manages to come out of the book with any kind of development.

Eventually there's a big battle. You'd guess this was coming. It does. And it's about as flat as all the rest of the characters, and it's squashed into the last few pages. It also features a bizzare mismatch of forces. Quite how large the Majik warhost is, is never stated, but no explanation is ever given as to why it is so many times bigger than the Ethrean one.

It isn't all bad. The language is fine, there are frequently moments of pathos, and some tension is well created between the characters. But not enough. Karen's talent has been in writing fast paced fun characters who shine with wit and dialogue. This conclusion to the series denies her the space to bring them to life, and emphasises that plot isn't all it takes to make a good fantasy.

Readable, but essentially predicable conclusion to the Godspeaker trilogy. Without flair.

.................................................​..................................................​ ( )
1 vote reading_fox | Mar 4, 2009 |
Karen Miller's writing is always engaging, and 'Hammer of God' is no exception... so why do I feel let down by this book?

The main characters in the first two books were Hekat and Rhian. They each embody the archetype of 'warrior woman' and - in different ways and with different methods - both had to fight overwhelming sexism and patriarchal society to gain ascendancy, despite being the chosen of their respective gods. Hekat, as an unvalued female child in a country where women had no status at all, did not even have a name until she named herself on the day she was sold as a slave. Rhian, as a privileged princess with two older brothers, was discounted as pretty, wilful and spoilt and was valued only for her potential on the marriage market.

Around these women, then, we saw a supporting cast of men of god, men of war and men of political power who variously helped or hindered. On the helpful side, we had Dexterity Jones, a toymaker whom god spoke to through his dead wife, and Zandakar, an exiled prince of Mijak who trained Rhian in personal combat, as well as Vortka, a fellow slave whose rise to Godspeaker cemented Hekat's power. On the hinder side, there was Marlon, the Prolate who sought to use Rhian as a pawn to gain both secular and religious power and Dmitrak, Hekat's despised son who loathes his mother, among others.

In this third book, particularly in its second half, I found it bewilderingly frustrating to watch Rhian and Hekat somewhat sidelined. Oh certainly, Hekat is wielding violent, blood-soaked power and Rhian is valiantly trying to unite the world against Mijak's invading force, which of themselves are huge tasks. But it gradually becomes apparent that the characters whose actions will make the critical difference are - wait for it - MEN. The supporting cast are revealed to be, in fact, the main characters and the agency of our warrior queens is almost stripped from them. Hekat is shown to be aged, physically weakened and misguided, while Rhian’s diplomatic efforts are somewhat ineffective. In the end, the much awaited showdown between two powerful women leading opposing armies is reduced to being merely a backdrop against which the fate of the world is played out, hinged critically on the actions of one man. ( )
3 vote veracity | Aug 12, 2008 |
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