The Hellborn King by Christopher G. Brenning


Rate: 6/10


SPFBO Status: Cut


Medium: Audiobook


Overview (No Spoilers):

Brenning creates an interesting world of stark contrasts in The Hellborn King, from the elite royals who are utterly consumed in their own misery, to the soldiers desperately trying to survive a looming threat without support. With the brutal battles faced by Cedric, Madeline, and Einarr, the pity parties and bickering by the Queen and her children seem petty in comparison. Can the people in power pull themselves from the mire of their old squabbles before the kingdom is lost?

Brennan weaves together at least eight different points of view with vivid characters whose personalities and motivations each carry their own voice, though very few are easy to like. That said, Brenning does not coddle his characters as no one is safe from a brutal fate, keeping the reader from growing complacent during dangerous situations. The chapters volley between different characters, however the timelines would often overlap, sometimes causing momentary confusion as the reader readjusts to the timeline at hand. That said, this overlap provided valuable insights from the opposing perspectives, such as highlighting bias, misconceptions, and missed opportunities. 

The characters and worldbuilding in The Hellborn King are fantastic, along with the audiobook narrator. Occasionally, certain phrases stood out as repetitive but these are few and far between. There is so much doom and gloom throughout this read though that I have a hard time wanting to continue the series. Every time there is a glimmer of hope for a good outcome or a miraculous escape, the tides turn rather quickly.

Overall, The Hellborn King is an entertaining read filled with palace intrigues, inner vices, and intense battle sequences, but the recurring dire outcomes leaves little hope for the reader to cling to. 


Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound)

  • Gareth’s self pity became such a cyclic pattern that it grew tiresome after a while, despite so badly wanting him to step up and fill the void left by his infirm father. Perhaps Madelyn’s perceived death was the kick he needed but how long till he relapses?
  • It seems like there’s an unknown party pulling strings and manipulating the royal family. What are their motivations? Is the entity controlling the King? Who is the woman showing herself to Lucetta? What does she really want?
  • Einarr’s naivete was another factor that grew unforgivable after a while. His character is so very intelligent, how could he not have foreseen the potential danger to his own village by going down this path? And how were there no repercussion after his leader broke his promise about not killing the garrison after they surrendered? 
  • I enjoyed the Titan’s perspectives as this character really grew on me. His thawing with Madelyn was a great addition. What will he do if he finds out she is still alive?
  • Speaking of Madelyn. She was by far my favorite character, but her ending with the “line stretching a mile long” rape was too much by a long shot. This book has been dark throughout but I’d genuinely enjoyed much of this read, however her terrible fate broke any desire I had to continue the series.
  • What will Charlotte do now that she thinks her daughter is crazy? It seems like she is in danger from Lucetta’s spirit and mercenaries. 
  • Does the King even realize Charlotte is gone?
  • What game is Lucetta’s husband playing? Is he a puppet or mastermind? 

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