BOOK REVIEW | THE SHADOW OF THE GODS BY JOHN GWYNNE

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

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

ORDER HEREAudible | Kindle | Paperback | Hardcover |  Bookshop.Org | The Broken Binding (Use code SAMBOOKINH for 5% OFF)

Review:

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.


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

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!

The Shadow of the Gods full cover by Marcus Whinney

AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


BOOK REVIEW | NORTHERN WRATH BY THILDE KOLD HOLDT

Good Evening all my bookish friends!

Today I will be reviewing Northern Wrath and I am, as always, super thankful I got to read this courtesy of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A few facts about this book:

  • Title: Northern Wrath
  • Author: Thilde Kold Holdt 
  • Series: The Hanged God Trilogy (Book One)
  • Published by Solaris
  • Pages: 616

Synopsis:

Add It To Your Goodreads!

Following in the steps of Neil Gaiman & Joanne Harris, the author expertly weaves Norse myths and compelling characters into this fierce, magical epic fantasy.

A dead man, walking between the worlds, foresees the end of the gods.

A survivor searching for a weapon releases a demon from fiery Muspelheim.

A village is slaughtered by Christians, and revenge must be taken.

The bonds between the gods and Midgard are weakening. It is up to Hilda, Ragnar, their tribesmen Einer and Finn, the chief’s wife Siv and Tyra, her adopted daughter, to fight to save the old ways from dying out, and to save their gods in the process.

ORDER HERE: Audible | Paperback | Kindle

Review:

Here are a few things you can expect from this book:

  • A Norse inspired viking fantasy;
  • A rich and detailed world filled with known and more unknown lore and myths;
  • Chaotic and bloody battle scenes;
  • A captivating plot.

On to the full review…

Northern Wrath is a norse inspired Viking fantasy and book one of The Hanged God Trilogy. I think I stand with a lot of people when I say Norse Mythology is an incredibly interesting one, it has so so much involved within its lore and the cultures that belonged to it are also incredibly interesting. Thilde managed to incorporate quite a lot of this in her writing too which is testament to the research and knowledge of this area, which meant she excelled in her world building. 

This book has gods, monsters, heroes and so much more and it is all woven well into the world and its plot. I really liked the idea that the diminishing belief in the gods was closing the gateways of sorts to the other realms, and it made the fight for ones belief about more than just their gods but being able to be with their families in the afterlife.

As a debut writer Thilde has done a great job of bringing many of the scenes in Northern Wrath to life from the exploration of the other worlds and the races the fill them to the battle sequences. She manages to really encapsulate the chaos that is battle.

Now let me explain why, for me, this book ended as a three star book on Goodreads, while this book excelled in it world building and its plot was captivating enough for me to finish the book, world-building is my lowest ranked attribute of a book. Characters are my jam, followed by plot and then world-building.

So unfortunately, I’m in a wee bit of a minority here as while I liked this book I did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would. My two main issues for this book go hand in hand with each other in my opinion. In short I felt like this book lacked the character depth I prefer as a reader and it was much too long. 

Northern Wrath has quite a cast of characters, more than I expected to be honest, and at times some felt like they were inserted randomly and generally didn’t need to be a POV at all. 

I honestly feel like with more editing both of my issues could be helped massively if not completely resolved. Now, I am no editor nor have I written my own book but I think, from my experience as a reader, that had this book have had less character POVs it could have both spent more time with other POV’s to achieve a greater character depth and cut down the page count by removing the filler. 

Let me also remind you these are my personal opinions based on my personal preferences, a book is to many readers completely different things. So I urge you to check out the other reviews for this book as many reviewers I respect and trust have LOVED this book and given it full marks!


THE RANKS: 

BUY THE HARDBACK | BUY THE PAPERBACK | BUY THE EBOOK | LIBRARY RENTAL OR SALE PURCHASE

I would still pick this book up in its Kindle form and quite possibly read book two, because like I said it was a good book in parts and I am hopeful, as I am not the only person to share these critiques, that they could be remedied in book two.


AGAIN Thank you for reading AND SEE YOU SOON!


SUNDAYS SEVEN | 7 NONFICTION BOOKS I WANT TO READ & THINGS I WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT…

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Book in Hand for another Sundays Seven post!

If you have been with me from the start of my blogging journey you will know I only really read fantasy and a small amount of sci-fi. Well, I realised when I was walking the other day how much I now listen to audiobooks. I listen when I am walking the dog, when I am playing around on Inkscape, cleaning and cooking. I even listen when I am at work sometimes so I can get few quite a few.

I want to challenge myself a little bit to broaden my reading genres but also use the gift that audiobooks have become for a little more.

I am one of those people that digests so much more information through listening to people than reading, all the way through university I recorded myself reading my textbooks so I could listen to them and do other stuff while doing some of my pre-class reading and revising, because revising for exams sucks.

Since finishing university, and being so thankful to finally not be in education I stopped learning much of anything, and despite having done five years at university doing my undergraduate and my master, I miss it. So, I am going to task myself with some nonfiction books about things I want to learn more about! They will likely be about history but it may change depending on how this goes, if I discover some cool fun things but…

LET US LOOK AT THE BOOKS THEN, EHH….


Last Boat Out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Fled Mao’s Revolution by Helen Zia

TOPICS:

Chinese History | Politics | War | Asian Culture

The dramatic real life stories of four young people caught up in the mass exodus of Shanghai in the wake of China’s 1949 Communist revolution–a precursor to the struggles faced by emigrants today. 


Shanghai has historically been China’s jewel, its richest, most modern and westernized city. The bustling metropolis was home to sophisticated intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and a thriving middle class when Mao’s proletarian revolution emerged victorious from the long civil war. Terrified of the horrors the Communists would wreak upon their lives, citizens of Shanghai who could afford to fled in every direction. Seventy years later, members of the last generation to fully recall this massive exodus have revealed their stories to Chinese American journalist Helen Zia, who interviewed hundreds of exiles about their journey through one of the most tumultuous events of the twentieth century. From these moving accounts, Zia weaves together the stories of four young Shanghai residents who wrestled with the decision to abandon everything for an uncertain life as refugees in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the United States.

Benny, who as a teenager became the unwilling heir to his father’s dark wartime legacy, must decide either to escape to Hong Kong or navigate the intricacies of a newly Communist China. The resolute Annuo, forced to flee her home with her father, a defeated Nationalist official, becomes an unwelcome exile in Taiwan. The financially strapped Ho fights deportation from the U.S. in order to continue his studies while his family struggles at home. And Bing, given away by her poor parents, faces the prospect of a new life among strangers in America. The lives of these men and women are marvelously portrayed, revealing the dignity and triumph of personal survival. 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga

TOPICS:

Race | Politics | British History

In Black and British, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga offers readers a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare’s Othello.

It reveals that behind the South Sea Bubble was Britain’s global slave-trading empire and that much of the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery. It shows that Black Britons fought at Trafalgar and in the trenches of the First World War. Black British history can be read in stately homes, street names, statues and memorials across Britain and is woven into the cultural and economic histories of the nation.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

TOPICS:

Genghis Khan | Mongol History | War | Asian Culture

Weatherford resurrects the true history of Genghis Khan, from the story of his relentless rise through Mongol tribal culture to the waging of his devastatingly successful wars and the explosion of civilization that the Mongol Empire unleashed.

There was a far longer synopsis for this book but this one was still better, I’m pretty sure the other was jus an except from the book!

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari 

TOPICS:

Science | Sociology | Anthropology | Evolution | Biology

100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. 

How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? 

In Sapiens, Dr Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? 

Bold, wide-ranging and provocative, Sapiens challenges everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our power … and our future. 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

1776 by DAVID MCCULLOUGH 

TOPICS:

Military History | War | Politics | Declaration of Independence | American Revolution

In this masterful book, David McCullough tells the intensely human story of those who marched with General George Washington in the year of the Declaration of Independence – when the whole American cause was riding on their success, without which all hope for independence would have been dashed and the noble ideals of the Declaration would have amounted to little more than words on paper.

Based on extensive research in both American and British archives, 1776 is a powerful drama written with extraordinary narrative vitality. It is the story of Americans in the ranks, men of every shape, size, and color, farmers, schoolteachers, shoemakers, no-accounts, and mere boys turned soldiers. And it is the story of the King’s men, the British commander, William Howe, an his highly disciplined redcoats who looked on their rebel foes with contempt and fought with a valor too little known.

At the center of the drama, with Washington, are two young American patriots, who, at first, knew no more of war than what they had read in books – Nathaniel Green, a Quaker who was made a general at thirty-three, and Henry Knox, a twenty-five-year-old bookseller who had the preposterous idea of hauling the guns of Fort Ticonderoga overland to Boston in the dead of Winter.

But it is the American commander-in-chief who stands foremost – Washington, who had never before led an army in battle. Written as a companion work to his celebrated biography of John Adams, David McCullough’s 1776 is another landmark in the literature of American history. 

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

England’s Other Countrymen: Blackness in Tudor Society by Onyeka Nubia

TOPICS:

Tudor History | England | Race | Politics

The Tudor period remains a source of timeless fascination, with endless novels, TV shows, and films depicting the period in myriad ways. And yet our image of the Tudor era remains overwhelmingly white. This ground-breaking and provocative new book seeks to redress the balance: revealing not only how black presence in Tudor England was far greater than has previously been recognized, but that Tudor conceptions of race were far more complex than we have been led to believe.   

Drawing on original research, Onyeka Nubia shows that Tudors from many walks of life regularly interacted with people of African descent, both at home and abroad, revealing a genuine pragmatism towards race and acceptance of difference. Nubia also rejects the influence of the “Curse of Ham” myth on Tudor thinking, and persuasively argues that many of the ideas associated with modern racism are therefore relatively recent developments.  England’s Other Countrymen is a bravura and eloquent forgotten history of diversity and cultural exchange, and casts a new light on our own attitudes towards race.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AMAZONS: WOMEN WARRIORS IN MYTH AND HISTORY by Lyn Webster Wilde

TOPICS:

Women | Mythology | Amazons

‘Golden-shielded, silver-sworded, man-loving, male-child slaughtering Amazons,’ is how the fifth-century Greek historian Hellanicus described the Amazons, and they have fascinated humanity ever since. Did they really exist? For centuries, scholars consigned them to the world of myth, but Lyn Webster Wilde journeyed into the homeland of the Amazons and uncovered astonishing evidence of their historic reality.
North of the Black Sea she found archaeological excavations of graves of Iron Age women buried with arrows, swords and armour. In the hidden world of the Hittites, near the Amazons’ ancient capital of Thermiscyra in Anatolia, she unearthed traces of powerful priestesses, women-only religious cults, and an armed, bisexual goddess – all possible sources for the ferocious women.
Combining scholarly penetration with a sense of adventure, Webster Wilde has produced a coherent and absorbing book that challenges preconceived notions, still disturbingly widespread, of what men and women can do.

ADD IT TO YOUR GOODREADS?


Well, we shall see how I fare with these first!