The Wrathbringer by Christopher G. Brenning is book two in the Hellborn King series. The first book, The Hellborn King, was a bit of a struggle for me. I’m pleased to say that The Wrathbringer was anything but—Brenning’s writing has elevated in this book. Because this book is the second in a series, I will not be outlining any major plot points or mentioning any characters by name.
The Wrathbringer is a gritty novel with some surprising twists and turns. The characters and world are built upon, and new POVs are introduced (in my opinion some of the best parts of the novel were these new POVs). Admittedly, this novel was slower than I expected it to be. With the ending of The Hellborn King, I expected things to escalate quickly, and that didn’t happen. At least, not in the way I thought. Instead, we watch as both sides of the war regroup and plan their next moves. And there is one deliciously unexpected death which I really enjoyed.
It’s difficult to talk much about the characters/plot without giving spoilers, so I won’t. I will mention that this novel makes use of a lot of dreams/visions, which is something that’s never really clicked with me—one reason being because during one particularly compelling vision, we find out that what’s happening isn’t actually happening, which left me rather disappointed—I REALLY wanted that to happen. On a positive note, if you’re somebody who also doesn’t like dreams/visions, don’t let this detract you from reading this novel—every dream/vision was appreciably short.
While the plot was slower than I was expecting, everything read at a fast pace. The shorter chapters really helped this book, I think, as it was much easier to “just read one more”. Aside from the aforementioned death, the most compelling part of this novel is the ending, and the epilogue seems to open the world up even more so. I’m very curious about where this book is heading.
Compared to the first book, I think I enjoyed every character’s POV in this book far more, except for one who felt really lost in this book. Their main journey was having visions and wandering around searching for somebody… and that was it. It feels like their role in the next book will be much expanded. Otherwise, I think every other POV was intriguing in their differences. Nobody really beats the royal Betanthian family, for me, though. I just really enjoy the political storyline there, and I think that’s really where Brenning’s talent shines.
This is a solid entry in the Hellborn King series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here!