Shadow of the Gods is one of the most epic novels I have read in a long time. It is brutal, awash with gore, as it is a Norse-inspired historical fantasy setting. The book had me attached to each of the character’s personal stories, and to witness their tales of love, loss, and redemption. This is a world where the Gods fought each other and became corrupted, hence they saw humanity as nothing as more than thralls. The humans fought against them and then vowed to hunt them down, for this is a world of Dead Gods whose essence has survived in some humans, who can possess the power of the Gods. Or they’re known as tainted. And the tainted aren’t respected well enough in this world, for they are seen as violent, dangerous, and above all, a threat. This is the very simplified version of what I give you here.
The worldbuilding is impressive and I already felt I was in that lands where Orka lives with her family, Varg on his quest to become more than remaining a thrall for the rest of his life, and Elvar seeking glory and adventure. The book cover does exactly what it says on the tin and we come across so many stories. Characters that want vengeance, characters that realize this world is brutal, and it will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t adapt to it. Living in a world of Dead Gods and Bounty Hunters and Slavers reminds me of how far humanity has fallen in this world. Blood and battle are more ordained, more celebrated than living a life of prosperity. For us humans, why did we worship Gods in the first place? To give us a sense of security? To answer the question of why we were put here in the first place? What was the purpose of a God in the first place? A higher being with powers that would bless our lives yet show us our humanity? We worshipped Gods because we did not have the answers to the questions we sought. Nowadays, it isn’t so. In this world, however, most of the Gods turn on each other, fighting each other, betraying each other. To live in a world like this is only for the tough, not for the good-hearted. And those good-hearted are often taken away by evil and greedy people.
And there’s plenty of them in Gwyne’s world. There won’t come a moment where you see young slaves being taken away from villages, or where thralls who are your slaves, treated as common muck. There are tales of heroism, there are excellent battle sequences, and well-written dialogue, well-written description. I loved the fact that there are different creatures in this novel inspired by Norse Mythology. My favorite were the Giant Ravens, Vesli, and Spert. You will soon see as you read this novel, and Breca is a character I grew to like. He is an innocent child trapped in this world of brutality and toughness. But he has a tough, resilient stance in this world. He isn’t afraid, but he knows the ways of the world. I just wonder, are there any good Gods in this world?
It’s a 10/10. Epic action, high stakes, tension, all good!
I also listened to Assassin Creed Valhalla OST on youtube and Wardruna, they really fit the theme.