The past week or so has been a whirlwind of trying to get through this book as quickly as possible. For such a lengthy story it was a joy to gobble up! Hammer of the Gods is Christina Ochs’s third book in her Desolate Empire series. It just barely came out earlier this month, so give her some indie author love by reading it and letting her know what you thought! In the meantime, here are my own thoughts on this novel.
My Rating: 5 stars
Oh man, what a journey. Arryk takes the bench this time around to sort out his new kingly duties and challenges back home. In the meantime, Lennart steps up to become a major player on Kendryk’s side of this on-going battle. Now it’s up to him and other characters to raise up a formidable army to finally put Teodora’s power to rest.
Interestingly enough, we begin to follow Teodora’s daughter, Elecktra and her part in this story. As Teodora’s heir, she respects but loathes her mother and we watch her grow up in her decision-making as well as her attempts to strike out on her own to prove that she can one day fill Teodora’s shoes.
Gwynneth also faces her own trials by trying to keep her family safe while her husband tries again to fight his war. Now that she relies on friends in other places we see her “stuck” for the first time; she risks her safety multiple times for the chance to help her family break from their somewhat limbo state.
You also follow Braeden and Anton as they are still in the thick of the fighting itself—depending on which side they are forced to fight on. You really get to see the story unfold from the highest to the lowest perspectives on the playing field. The big question throughout the novel is who’s gonna stay alive and which side will finally win.
What I Enjoyed:
I really liked Elektra. Like, at some points you wanted Braeden to finally end her and other times you wanted her to show Teodora that there’s a better way to fight this war. I enjoy plots and characters where your loyalties shift because of their choices. Throughout this whole series you end up liking people on both sides of the war and you worry that someone will have to die as a result of the other side winning. It goes to show what kind of mess a war can be, and at this point, everyone’s trying to get the war done before everyone loses their money.
For all you Anton fans out there, we finally get to see him fall in love—for reals this time! It’s fun yet heartbreaking to watch, considering the world they live in. I’m always intrigued by how Ochs reminds us of how people try to sustain their love and livelihoods in the middle of a long war. The show must go on, right? The war becomes so much more than just a bunch of royalty wanting to keep their territories in order, as well as their faith of choice.
Speaking of faith, it still plays a heavy role in this novel. Characters are forced to convert as leverage and we still see the cost of a battle over how to interpret scriptures, or Scrolls in this case. But multiple characters who hold onto the old faith begin to see that their heretic counterparts can still be respected and respected. Characters start looking beyond religious labels to make their judgement of other characters. It makes you hope that key players in this fight will come to the same conclusion *hint hint, Teodora* but the Empress doesn’t seem keen on letting anyone say anything akin to “I told you so.” I think it’s one idea that modern readers can take away—considering the majorly thick political battles we see on social media about “who’s right and who’s wrong.”
The Final Say
Never have I seen a series with such consistency. Each book is of the same caliber and weight as all the others; meaning she hasn’t put all of her chips into her first book. I’m not saying the books are in any way predictable, but her pacing and character treatment is consistently working for her.
Funnily enough, when I was getting to about 80% of the novel, I was wondering how Ochs would wrap up such a complicated and riveting war. It wasn’t until I reached the end that she mentions that book 4, Winter of the Wolf will be released later this year. Turns out, I was reading it and thinking this was the conclusion of the series. But it isn’t! Phew! For a second, I was worried about all the characters that had yet to complete their motives. In reality, I just have to wait like everyone else to get the next part of the story!
As you can tell by my rating and review, I would definitely recommend this novel. Just do yourself a favor and read her first two books, obviously!
To learn more about Christina Ochs and her works, check her out on social media:
Have you read this book already and have more to say that I forgot? Leave a comment below!