Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne
Title: Shadow of the Gods
Author: John Gwynne
Published Date: May 6th 2021
Length: 496 pages
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Adult Fantasy, Epic Fantasy,
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 . . .
Can we talk about the cover first? That’s what grabbed me and never let me go. I seriously just saw the cover and I didn’t even know what the book was about but I knew that I wanted to read it. For two simple reasons, one was the cover, it’s so gorgeous and you can really get the absolutely epic vibes from it. The second being that it was a John Gwynne book and I had been meaning to read anything by this author seeing as how many people were so in love with the previous series. Of course, I might have made a mistake by starting a new series that doesn’t have anything but the first book out but what can you do?
At first glance, this book pretty much has everything that I love in fantasy. Myths, gods, dragons, well-established characters and a world that feels real and so much more! Let’s talk about the characters and how well-written they are because we get three POVs, Orka, Varg and Elvar and they all feel so fleshed out and real. I was also pleasantly surprised to see how well-written his female characters are. I know, it’s a low bar but some people don’t even manage that. I really loved how complex and real each character felt, their life, their history and their relationships with other people felt so rooted in the world’s reality. The world felt real mostly because of the characters and their reactions to the things happening around them.
Let’s talk about world-building then, it’s so well done and atmospheric that even when I was reading it in the scorching heat of the summer, I could still feel like I was there in the cold. The way he writes the world and the gods and its history is so good! I felt very immersed and that’s what I want from a fantasy book. The world building is not so complex that a non-fantasy reader won’t be sucked into it and that makes it even better, in my opinion. The mythology is heavily nordic and it’s very obvious. The Ragnarök tale is very obviously the history of this world and its effects are shown so wonderfully. How it affected the people in the world and how they are now trying to make use of whatever the gods left behind. It’s such a people thing to do, isn’t it? To grab whatever the gods left behind.
There’s politics and there’s a bloody price to pay for freedom of any kind in this world and I was really happy to read along as the characters faced their trials and tribulations. Not in a nasty way, just…happy that it was so well done. The magical creatures in this also were so good and varied. It was so interesting to read about and I hope as we progress in the series, more and more things will pop up to make me love this even more.
Overall, I really loved the writing, the pacing and the characters. The world building isn’t too complicated but the world itself feels lived in, if you know what I mean. I can’t wait to read the next installment! next book when?