Hello Bookish Beings!
Today I am finally going to review John Gwynne’s newest book The Shadow of the Gods.
I would like to thank Orbit for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, receiving this by no means influences my review but if you don’t know already I am a HUGE John Gwynne fan so…
This review is likely no shock.
A few facts about this book:
- Title: The Shadow of the Gods
- Author: John Gwynne
- Series: The Bloodsworn Saga (Book One)
- Published by Orbit
- Pages: 496
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Here are a few things you can expect from this book:
- A Norse inspired epic;
- Phenomenal world building;
- An incredible first book to what will no doubt be brilliant series; and
- AMAZING characters and side characters.
On to the full review…
The Shadow of the Gods was easily my MOST anticipated release this year and it did not disappoint. It is just one more example of how spectacular an author John Gwynne is. Set in a brand new norse inspired world it is the start to something incredible and I am desperately excited for book two! AND BOOK ONE ISN’T EVEN OUT YET!
“I am blood. I am death. I am vengeance.”
The Shadow of the Gods is told from three POV’s, we have Orka, Varg and Elvar and as per usual with John Gwynne I loved them all. Usually when reading a book with several POV’s you tend to prefer one to the others and while this is still the case for this book it always changed! The way John Gwynne writes allows for each character to have their limelight, for some chapters I was itching to get back to Elvar and other Varg or Orka. This, in my opinion, is great because you are always on your toes and you are constantly learning more and gravitating to different characters and also to the side characters that surround them.
If you have read any of Gwynne’s work before you will know just how fabulous his characters are, not merely his main characters but also the side characters too. There is such a realness to ALL the characters Gwynne creates and even those with a smaller part to play in the overall story pack a punch and are memorable. There is a curiosity around all the characters you come across and the journey into unraveling their past is such a fun experience. I won’t go into the characters to much because I want you to experience them first hand, but goodness they are fab! Gwynne gives you tiny snippets into their past and following those breadcrumbs is always fun, I loved this in The Faithful and the Fallen so I was so happy to see it in The Shadow of the Gods too.
The depth of all the characters is great, each of our characters brings something to the table and there is such a variety of characters to attract you to the tale. We have battle hardened warriors, retired warriors, a loyal protector, witty and hilarious friends, mysterious witches and so so much more.
Now, for the bloodshed! I have to say this is probably the bloodiest book I have read by Mr. Gwynne and it isn’t like he stays away from it in his other books! There are shield walls, battles, skirmishes, wicked creatures, godly relics and DRAGONS! It is gritty, brutal and oh so good. Every battle in this book was tense and at no point did any character feel infallible, because lets be honest we all know John Gwynne ain’t afraid to kills off his characters! But because of how Gwynne writes his battles I kind of want to tell all fantasy authors to go dabble in battle reenactments just so they can know the weight of a shield, the demands battle has on a person and to know the feeling of bodies throwing themselves again a shield wall! Because these details that Gwynne inserts into his writing will always keep him a step above.
“That is why we fight so hard for each other. We do not abandon the living. We do not abandon those we have sworn oaths to.”
The world that Gwynne has created here is bloody marvellous, and honestly I would like a bestiary just for this world! I was constantly imagining the creatures that fill it and I loved the general world. I spent a weekend in York pre COVID and we went to Jorvik which is an epic recreation of a nordic settlement and I am so glad I went and even more so now because all the world building tidbits we get to see in this book were so on point and ones I had seen at Jorvik. Gwynne truly managed to capture the day to day aspects of this world and it sets the tone of this world brilliantly. I have read quite a few norse inspired books now and none even come close to Gwynne’s ability to capture the authenticity of this time period. Gwynne is meticulous in his world building and none of it is pointless or boring. I am really not a person who needs to much world building but there are books that show me that when it is done right I am all for it! The Shadow of the Gods is one of those books. I could read a whole host of books set in this world!
“Fear can be ice or fire in the veins, freezing the body or setting a blaze within it.”
I am constantly wowed when I read Gwynne’s books because he is just an incredible storyteller, he is constantly building and building to get to the climax and boy when you are there it is nothing short of outstanding. The pace was great for me, the story never felt stale for me and it was constantly moving forward. Another bonus is that I trust John Gwynne implicitly, I was only saying the other day to a friend that Gwynne gets away with some things with me, not errors or flaws but, for example, cliff hangers usually annoy me to no end but I don’t care about that in this book, it has just made me more excited because Gwynne has continually provided and impressed me as a reader. I have utter faith this series will continue to shine and impress me as this book has.
To conclude this review and generally reign in my need to gush even more I will end this review by telling you to pick this bloody book up! It is a brilliant start to the series and is one that gives you so much but lets you know there is also so much yet to come! As per usual Gwynne has created some of the best characters you will read and had me falling in love with them quicker than any other book can.
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This book is simply brilliant, and lets take a minute to praise the STUNNING cover. If Gwynne’s writing didn’t warrant a BUY THE HARDBACK rank the bloody cover would!