Viking-esque Warrior Princesess? A world where the gods come alive? Hall of Smoke promises a world where the battle of the gods are played out in mortal lives. It is an epic fantasy with fabulous world building that asks us all about our destiny. Keep reading this book review to find out what I thought!
Hessa is an Eangi: a warrior priestess of the Goddess of War, with the power to turn an enemy’s bones to dust with a scream. Banished for disobeying her goddess’s command to murder a traveller, she prays for forgiveness alone on a mountainside.
While she is gone, raiders raze her village and obliterate the Eangi priesthood. Grieving and alone, Hessa – the last Eangi – must find the traveller, atone for her weakness and secure her place with her loved ones in the High Halls. As clans from the north and legionaries from the south tear through her homeland, slaughtering everyone in their path, Hessa strives to win back her goddess’ favour.
Beset by zealot soldiers, deceitful gods, and newly-awakened demons at every turn, Hessa burns her path towards redemption and revenge. But her journey reveals a harrowing truth: the gods are dying and the High Halls of the afterlife are fading. Soon Hessa’s trust in her goddess weakens with every unheeded prayer.
Thrust into a battle between the gods of the Old World and the New, Hessa realizes there is far more on the line than securing a life beyond her own death. Bigger, older powers slumber beneath the surface of her world. And they’re about to wake up
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Hall of Smoke details a world where the disputes of the gods end in burial pyres. It is a book that asks us what we will do when our hand is forced? A contest of gods wrenching against their powers, choosing their opponents and allies. Who are we to question the gods, to deny their powers, to reject their advances? While I thoroughly enjoyed the ways Long explores humanity’s roles in a world of gods, the ending felt abrupt considering the layers of action and intrigue.
The old gods are awakening and they are ready to unleash their newly awoken powers. But where do humans lie? In this world where we can make deals with the gods, how much power over our own lives do we truly have? Hall of Smoke presents a world of smoke and murder, of demons and danger. I enjoyed this epic fantasy in terms of the world building, the action, and the thematic exploration, but I didn’t feel as connected to the main character as I wanted. Hessa is everything I would have thought I’d love instantly.
I found that Hessa was driven by her dedication and her willingness to fix her mistakes. I love the idea of this, but her steadfast belief in her gods was difficult for me to connect with because I’m not sure I’ve ever believed in anything that wholeheartedly. At the same time, I felt that Hall of Smoke lacked space for internal retrospection. Considering the pace, and the world building aspects, I understand that Hall of Smoke is focused on the action. For those who are moved by character driven stories, they might not find what they are looking for.
However, if you love the idea of the world and high action and fantasy, then you will be thrilled by the way Long unfolds the premise of the world. In terms of action, I also felt like the pacing towards the end built up to a frenzy. Additionally, I have some lingering questions about the world towards the end. It’s nothing that’s a deal breaker for me, I just would have liked a little more space to delve into the consequences and ramifications of the book’s events.
I lean towards being swayed by action packed stories, inventive worlds, while also needing to be driven by characters. So for me, Hall of Smoke was a book that delivered on the intrigue and was driven by a sense of action. Overall, I enjoyed reading Hall of Smoke and would recommend it to my fantasy loving friends. Find Hall of Smoke on Goodreads, Amazon (US) (UK), Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.