Happy Saturday everyone! I finished The Shadow of the Gods about ten minutes before starting this review. I know it’s a little weird I immediately write my reviews after finishing a book, but for me it’s closure. And boy, do I need closure.
I got The Shadow of the Gods via NetGalley. I know I say this a lot, but this time I was REALLY surprised when I got approved. My feedback ratio was shit. But, ya know, something with a gift horse… Please do read the content warnings below before picking this book up when it comes out, because it’s bloody. Like, hella.
The Shadow of the Gods
By John GwynneMy Rating: ★★★★★
Published 6 May 2021 by Orbit
Epic fantasy | Norse Mythology | Adult
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 . . .
What I Liked
Hmm, basically everything. Let’s start with the word building. This is not an easy world to follow. This is a norse inspired book, so I pictured large fjords and epic-fantasy-type landscapes. The world building is done slowly, and through dialogue, so you won’t get bored reading endless descriptions. I prefer my books this way, but it does mean you sacrifice a little bit of pace. The first fifty pages are likely going to be quite confusing.
Now on to the characters. The book follows three different characters, that are set on different paths. There is Orka, the battle-hardened mother who lives a quiet life with her family as a trapper. There’s Elvar, who ran away from home in search of battle-fame. And there’s Varg, a slave seeking vengeance. All of these characters were so well fleshed out. None of them are good, but they’re also not inherently bad. The choices they make leads each of them to a path they never thought they would take. Anyway, I miss them already.
Lastly, let’s discuss plot & writing. This isn’t a fast paced book, but I also didn’t find it slow. However, I will warn that some chapters are a little empty. Not that nothing happens at all, but sometimes there are a few pages that don’t necessarily relate to the plot much. Countering this by saying that there is plenty of mystery that will make you want to keep reading. I felt in my bones that the paths all characters had taken would lead to a big finale, and I had to see what would happen, even if it broke my heart a bit.
I found the writing really compelling, too. I’ve never read any other works by Gwynne, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can still see the scenes play out in my head. I will for sure be picking up other books by this author, because otherwise I don’t think I can survive waiting for the next book.
What I Liked Less
Honestly, there isn’t anything I didn’t like. But, there are so many names and terms, I found it hard to keep them straight. It would be nice if the published version of this book had a little appendix with the characters and terms. I barely have two brain cells to rub together, and had to think quite hard sometimes about who’s who and what’s what.
What I’m saying is, pay good attention to the characters. There are many side characters that are important, so you’ll want to remember their names. I also found it hard to keep the individual stories apart at times, which again, is the fault of my two braincells. So my tip for you is to take notes if you’re like me.