Adelais was raised in the far north, learning stories of the old gods and the skill of weaving runes into magic. Now, she is locked in a convent far from home, forced to kneel to a foreign god.
When inquisitors arrive with plans to torture an innocent man, Adelais cannot stand by. She aids an attack to free the prisoner and joins the raiders as they flee into the night.
Her new companions are the last of the Guardians—once a powerful holy order, now ragged fugitives, hunted almost to extinction.
The knights carry a secret treasure, precious and powerful enough to shape kingdoms. Their pursuers, desperate to possess it, will crush any who stand in their way.
Nowhere is safe—in city or chateau, on the road or in the wilds. And even disguised as a boy, Adelais draws attention wherever she goes. Is she angel or demon, heretic, priestess or witch?
Adelais must summon all her courage and all her memories of the old gods’ magic as the noose tightens around her and a thunderous final reckoning approaches.
Hammer of Fate is the first book in the Rune Song trilogy, a historical fantasy series that takes inspiration from the process that took down the Templar Order, blending it with Norse-origin magic, written by G.N. Gudgion. Reading the vivid adaptations Gudgion has made of some of the iconic moments of the whole period have been an absolute delight.
Adelaide was raised in the North, learning about the old gods and their powers manifested through runes, until her father sold her to the priests. She was locked into a convent, far from home, having to praise a foreign god.
Always dreaming of fleeing to her land, the arrival of inquisitors with plans to torture an old man, a member of the dissolved Guardian order, precipitate her plans, as the assault of some Guardians to rescue the prisoner ends with her joining the group.
The Guardians were a powerful order until the king and the high priest of Salazar decided to dissolve them, hunting all their members until almost their extinction, with the last of them being no more than fugitives. In the company of Adelaide, they are trying to protect a sacred relic that is powerful enough to shape kingdoms; if they are captured by the Inquisition, they will be burnt at the stake.
Gudgion uses multiple POVs to show us how is the escape of Adelaide and her Guardian companions, including one, Mallory, that represents their prosecutors, gives a layer of humanity to the villains. Adelaide is forced to become a hero, to protect her mates, soon becoming an icon for the Guardians, and called a witch by those who are hunting them.
Pacing is quite slow at the start, a sort of slow-burning that progressively accelerates to create an avalanche close to the end; it works well, but I feel the start could have been trimmed down, especially the first moments at the convent. Said that, Gudgion has excellently painted vivid portraits of some of the iconic moments of the Templar Knights' judicial process, adapted to the fantasy world we are in, and the battle moments are a pure spectacle.
A relatively dark book, but not for that, less enjoyable. If you like historical fantasy and reluctant heroes, give this book a try. I can't wait to read the second book of the trilogy and see what other adventures Adelaide lives!
I grew up with my nose in a book, often one featuring knights in armour. Later I went looking for stories where women didn’t have to be either beautiful damsels or witches, and found the fantasy genre and the works of J.R.R Tolkein, Guy Gavriel Kay, Mark Lawrence, and Robin Hobb.
When I started writing novels, I had no understanding of genre; I simply wrote the book that was fighting to land on the page. My debut novel, Saxon’s Bane, was a time-slip with a supernatural twist and its roots in the Dark Ages. My second novel, Draca, also crossed the boundaries between literary fiction, historical fiction, and ghost story. Readers loved it. Take a look at the reviews on Amazon.
Since Draca I’ve gravitated to ‘historical fantasy’, the domain of authors such as George R R Martin (Game of Thrones), Andrzej Sapkowski (The Witcher), and Mark Lawrence (The Book of the Ancestor). A character had come into my mind as if she had always been there, waiting for her story to be told; a courageous young woman, raised as a pagan but incarcerated in a nunnery and forced to kneel to a foreign god. The words flowed. One book became two, then three. The trilogy acquired a name: Rune Song. Publishers Second Sky, an imprint of Bookouture/Hachette, released the first in the series, Hammer of Fate, in June 2023.
I live in a leafy corner of England, where I’m a keen amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist. I spend much of my time crafting words in a shed, fifty yards and five hundred years from the house.