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

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 . . . 

Review:

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 character’s personal stories and witnessed 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 land 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 who want vengeance 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 when you see young slaves being taken away from villages or where thralls who are your slaves are treated as common muck. There are tales of heroism, there are excellent battle sequences, and well-written dialogue, well-written descriptions. I loved the fact that there are different creatures in this novel inspired by Norse Mythology. My favourite were the Giant Ravens, Vesli, and Spert. You will soon see as you read this novel, that 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?

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