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!