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

Rating: 10/10


This is the age of storm and murder.After the old gods warred and drove themselves to extinction, the cataclysm of their fall shattered the land of Vigrio.

Now, power-hungry jarls carve out petty kingdoms, and monsters stalk the shadow-haunted woods and mountains. A world where the bones of the dead gods still hold great power, promising fame and fortune for those brave – or desperate – enough to seek them out.

As whispers of war echo over the plains and across the fjords, fate follows the footsteps of three people: a huntress searching for her missing son, a jarl’s daughter who has rejected privilege in pursuit of battle fame, and a thrall who has cast off his chains and now fights alongside the famed mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn.

All three will shape the fate of the world, as it once more teeters on the edge of chaos.


Once upon a time there was a woman, let’s name her Velska, who gardened a narrow patch of soil in front of her wooden built dwelling. She dug up little holes for laying vegetable seeds, but as she lost herself into the peaceful endeavor, a rat-sized butterfly landed on the soil—a few feet away from her. She glanced at the large multi-colored wings and appreciated its beauty. Abruptly, the butterfly shifted to expose its body and revealed a set of enormous claws and an odd opening filled with sharpened teeth. The creature flew directly at her neck and sunk its jaw into her jugular. 

If you like this example, this is exactly what you can expect in John Gwynne’s The Shadow of The Gods. A story filled with natural and unnatural dangers lurking at every corner of its world, Vigrid, one of the most riveting and dangerous world I’ve ever read about. John spends a tremendous amount of time developing a world WE normal humans would never want to inhabit. Even the characters remind us of this throughout the book.

“This is Vigrid, she thought, a world of tooth and claw, where life is battle.”

The story follows three main characters, Elvar, Orka and Varg through their own personal journeys and three different paths as the plot pushes us through nearly every corner of the map included in the book and explores the factions, magic and Godlike history of this intense first novel in John’s Bloodsworn series. While I read the book, I could barely put it down as our characters experienced challenges after challenges, even outside of the savage creatures awaiting them.

John’s writing style was also highly addictive, including culturally created prose specific to the story. Need to create a new expression related to feeling sick? He introduced us to a creature called the Wyrms and how ghastly they were and then adopted them as an expression instead of using the common “stomach churning”. Need to establish a new word for “mind”, how about your thought-cage? Refreshing, imaginative and addictive. And the book is crammed with an understandable language, yet vivid in its Norse mythology. Very impressed!

What can I say that hasn’t been already mentioned from one of the several reviews by the Fanfiaddict team? John Gwynne’s The Shadow of the Gods was not only my first foray into Norse fiction but also a first with the author. And John has converted me into a fan of his work and of the incredible story of the Bloodsworn saga and where it’s headed. Every fantasy reader should include this poignant and extraordinary novel as their next read. 

One Comment Add yours

  1. If this book weren’t already on my TBR I’d ass it right now. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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