‘A masterfully crafted, brutally compelling Norse-inspired epic’ Anthony Ryan
THE GREATEST SAGAS ARE WRITTEN IN BLOOD.
A century has passed since the gods fought and drove themselves to extinction. Now only their bones remain, promising great power to those brave enough to seek them out.
As whispers of war echo across the land of Vigrið, fate follows in the footsteps of three warriors: a huntress on a dangerous quest, a noblewoman pursuing battle fame, and a thrall seeking vengeance among the 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.
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.
The Shadow of the Gods, Book 1 of the Bloodsworn Saga, John Gwynne’s latest Norse-inspired epic series, has been reviewed no less than 9 times on FanFiAddict already. 9 times! Each review has basically pointed out the same thing; that this book is brilliant. So, will my review, the tenth for this novel to hit the site, break this books streak of glowing reviews? Well, no, because this book is brilliant!
Set in the land of Vigrid, the Battle Plain, several centuries after a war between the gods devastated the land and left all of them dead, Gwynne paints a brutal, visceral novel of revenge, the bonds between people, glory in battle & monsters… shit loads of monsters. Following 3 POV characters, Orka, a mother out for blood, Elvar, a warrior in search for glory, and Varg, a man on a quest for answers, Shadow of the Gods essentially tells three separate tales, with each characters storyline laser focused on one or two of the books main themes.
Getting my main criticism out of the way now, but each storyline takes a while to get going, with one in particular I felt didn’t really get truly going until about the final quarter. Shadow of the Gods is very much a slow burn beginning & also a scene setting first book, relishing its time in setting up the world, its history and its peoples. I like slow burn books, especially ones written in as such as an effective and expert way as Gwynne does, but this was quite slow, and by page 150 I did question exactly where the story was going. Lucky for me then, once each storyline hits its stride, John Gwynne does not let up!
By far the stand out POV character is Orka. With just one book under her belt, she is hands down one of the most badass mother-bear characters of any genre. Her action scenes are fierce, vivid & downright bloody, her journey is thrilling and full of revelations and brutal setbacks. There are moments that could have been taken straight from some of the best action movies ever, in fact there are plenty that I’d love to go into detail about, but alas this is a spoiler free review so they must remain unmentioned. If I ever found myself in a battle, Orka would be my number one pick!
With this said, that doesn’t mean the other 2 POVs are lacking. Although they begin to feel a bit similar in the midway point, as they are essentially groups of warriors travelling from one place to another, each also has some standout character moments that elevate them from good to great. Like always, writing battles and combat scenes is naturally brilliant to Viking reenactor John Gwynne, and comparing them to Gwynne’s Faithful & the Fallen (which I still can’t talk about too much or I’ll cry) you can see he has improved so much, which is a marvel really as he’s gone from absolutely amazing to one of the best combat writers in fantasy (I’d say Top 3 at least). The final half of the book grabs you and refuses to let go, and the more it went on, the better it got. The ending is phenomenal, it changes everything going forward for the series and left me “Hungry” for the sequel.
So, take it from me and the other 9 people on this blog that have reviewed it, Shadow of the Gods is a brilliant read. It’s one of the best of 2021 and a great start to what is certain to be a series that will go down as a classic!