Review: The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #1) by John Gwynne

Rating: 10/10


Set in a brand-new, Norse-inspired world, and packed with myth, magic and bloody vengeance, The Shadow of the Gods begins an epic new fantasy saga from bestselling author John Gwynne.

After the gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrið.

Now a new world is rising, where power-hungry jarls feud and monsters stalk the woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

Now, as whispers of war echo across the mountains and fjords, fate follows in the footsteps of three people: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world as it once more falls under the shadow of the gods…


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #1) for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.

The Shadow of the Gods is a masterclass in storytelling. It is epic, gritty fantasy with an uncompromising amount of heart. A near-perfect combination of Vikings and Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, but with a fantastical flare that Gwynne executes flawlessly.

I didn’t know a perfect book existed until I turned the last page. The wheels in my mind have been churning for hours, attempting to grind out the perfect words to completely voice my love for this novel. I really don’t believe the words exist and that is probably why I have been racking my brain, coming up with literally nothing.

John… This is for you.

Like the synopsis states, the story follows three (3) distinct storylines: Orka (the huntress on a dangerous quest), Elvar (the noblewoman who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame) & Varg (a thrall who seeks vengeance among the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn). While we see all of the action through their eyes, there are several key characters you will become very familiar with as the tale progresses. My favorite, outside of our main protagonists, was Svik. He is definitely the comic relief for such a grim tale, and his story (around the halfway point) in which he bests a troll nearly killed me. But to be honest, there wasn’t one character written that I thought really needed more fleshing out. Each played their part in the exact manner required.

The world-building goes without saying. If you’ve read the author’s first couple of series, The Faithful and the Fallen or Of Blood & Bone, you already know this aspect will be comprehensive and elaborate. While the former two (2) series took place in The Banished Lands, The Bloodsworn Trilogy takes place across Vigrid, the Battle-Plain. Gwynne calls it “a new world inspired by Beowulf, Ragnarok and Norse mythology” and that about sums it up. It is a land full of harsh terrain, warbands, monsters, gigantic bones of dead gods and more. Oh, and a massive dragon (though you probably already collected that from the brilliant cover by Marcus Whinney). There are also some aspects I’d LOVE to talk about, but trust me, you are better off finding them out for yourself.

Look, if you have made it this far in my review and you still haven’t preordered yourself a copy, can you just trust me? If Vikings are your thing (and they probably are considering you read my review of a novel inspired by Norse mythology), then do the thing.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Beth Tabler says:

    Annnnnnd another one for the TBR. This looks fan-freaking-tastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David W says:

      It is. It TRULY is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! I am SO excited for this book!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob/Sally says:

    The more I hear of this the more I’m desperate to get my hands on a copy! Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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