The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga #1) by John Gwynne
The Shadow of the Gods is the epic new offering from author John Gwynne. It is the first book in his new series entitled The Bloodsworn Saga and it is about Norse men and women tearing.shit.up.
The Shadow of the Gods takes place in the Norse-inspired land of Vigrid, 300 years after a war between the gods that makes Godzilla Vs Kong look like a pair of annoying children bickering over who gets to sit in the front seat. It is told from the viewpoint of three very different characters in Orka, Varg and Elvar. Orka is a wife and mother, she used to be something else, but now she is happy and deeply content. If you know Gwynne you know it’s time to get the popcorn and tissues because no one gets to be happy or deeply content for more than a week. Varg is a thrall who has killed his master and escaped. He seeks the wielder of a special kind of magic, one that allows you to see the final images captured by the eyes of a person before their death. Someone murdered his sister and he’ll do whatever it takes to learn their identity and seek beautiful bloody restitution. Finally we have Elvar, a young warrior woman who seeks glory and battle fame in a warband. Gwynne has a real talent for making his readers care about his characters big and small. It’s probably my favourite thing about his writing and it’s certainly one of the major things that keeps me coming back.
So what are these lovely characters doing? Mostly trying to just to stay alive in the wonderfully gruesome world they exist in. Some seek revenge and power, some fame and fortune. Some seek a willing bed partner and a clean death. In most cases they are going to have to fight for every inch they want to take. Gwynne is a master of the battle scene whether it is two drunken men in an alley fighting over a woman or thousands of troops on a battlefield exchanging cannon fire. In this book it’s viking warbands baby and does he ever do them justice. They are exhausting, filthy, horrifying and completely exhilarating.
So if you like reading about bands of men and women plundering the land in search of piles of loot, killing the absolute shit out of everything and adorning themselves with equipment gear and trophies taken only from those that died by their axe then you will love this book. If you need to have a passionate connection with a number of characters, to care about them as the rage through the story, fucking up all the time, disappointing you like a surly teenager, thrilling and scaring you as they place their life in danger and exciting you with the many possibilites of who they might one day grow to become, then you will love this book. If you have already heard the hype about Gwynnes previous series The Banished Lands but were put off by the commitment of reading seven books then come the hell on, now is the time to jump on the train, you will love this book!
I received an uncorrected proof copy of The Shadow of the Gods in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to John Gwynne and Orbit Books.
The Shadow of the Gods releases of May 6th.
P.S I also read this whilst playing Assassins Creed Valhalla and it was completely epic to finish a chapter and then jump in the game and to go into a village wielding a two handed axe in each hand. I highly recommend it.