The Shadow of the Gods ( The Bloodsworn Saga #1) – John Gwynne


I have not forgotten you. I will never forget you. And my oath stands, I will make it happen. But if I feel some moments of cheer as I walk that path, or find some friends, is that so bad a thing? Should it feel so. . . wrong?


Rating: 5 out of 5.

5 Stars all the way

First lets start with those thanks to Orbit and Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of The Shadow of the Gods in exchange for an honest review.

I’m going to start out with stating that this is my first ever read of a John Gwynne book, yes I own his others series, no I haven’t read them (okay I actually read half of Malice but life interrupted and I need to start that over) So this was like walking into a furnace that was set on high. Every where you turn there is high praise for Gwynne’s work and it can be intimidating, because you end up thinking “what if it I don’t like it“. I’m grateful to say I enjoyed what I read and I understand the hype around Gwynne’s work.

The Shadow of the Gods is an amazing Norse inspired tale. The lore that Gwynne has created in this world is so fascinating and enthralling. I wanted to know everything about the dead gods and what happened between them, I wanted to know what animal they all were and how many in total there was, it was so gripping, you just had to know. The size of these gods are insane. What was more intriguing was how their dead bodies played into creating the world and locations that the people lived in. Not only was there tales and sagas of the dead gods but there were pieces of them still in the world which gave life to their stories, it was so mesmerizing.

One of the things I loved most was the ability to really visualize what I was reading. Gwynne has a way with descriptions, he doesn’t over do it, but he also does not under sell it. He has found that sweet spot that triggers your brain and makes it possible to see what he is describing. I don’t know how many times I wanted to eat because I kept visualizing the food he was describing. So naturally when it got to the part about describing the land and the use of the dead gods my imagination went into overdrive and it was spellbinding, and just left me in awe.

We follow 3 POVs Orka, Varg and Elvar, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton of other characters, because this book is filled with a lot of them, but Gwynne executed it flawlessly. I never got any characters mixed up or ever felt I was overwhelmed by the amount of them.

Orka, is a strong hulking beast of a woman who I would never ever ever in my life want to tick off. While I do like her character, her chapters are the ones I feel I struggled with the most they had a lot of moments where it just felt like the pace dipped. But the thing I like about Orka’s character and portion of the story was that it all revolved around her family and how much they mean to her and keep her grounded. Her will and determination to right the wrong that was done to her family is held firm through the entire story and she never falters from that.

Varg is a man on a mission to hold true his oath to his sister. He was wild from the start and I loved that. Watching him go from feeling alone and miserable to feeling wanted and part of a family was just beautiful. But I love that Gwynne made it realistic with Varg questioning himself the entire time if he even deserved this happiness. The constant battle Varg faces in regards to how his life is changing and changing in a manner that is far better than anything he ever had was so realistic. I really loved his portions of the story because I really loved seeing him grow and learn to trust and feel trusted in return, seeing him go from miserable to happy brought a joy to me and it just made me yearn for his chapters. (I also loved so many of the side characters in his portion of the story too)

Lastly we have Elvar a young battle ready lass who is trying to prove her self in the world of warriors. Elvar’s chapters started out a little slow but then they picked up and next thing I knew family ties where being revealed, a romance was blooming and the road to the greatest riches was opened up. Battles where always on the horizon and the detail that Gwynne goes in on his battle scenes are amazing and so vivid. When certain revelations started being revealed in Elvar’s portion of the story that was when my brain started working and started trying to figure out how it all connected and how each of our POV characters will connect. I’m still on the fence if truly like Elvar as a character I can’t pin point what it is exactly about her but I can’t seem to decide if I do or don’t like her. I do like Grend, can I have more Grend background story please?!?!?! I love him. I LOVE HIM!

As for the side characters oh boy, I love so many of them, and cried over some of them. Lif and Mord ahh my heart for these boys, and Thorkel oh. Rokia is amazing and I want more of her, along with the rest of the Bloodsworn they are just precious and I love them to bits, and Biorr your a piece shit and you know why (yes I understand his reasons for his actions but that don’t mean I can’t be angry with him)
And again Grend, I really love this quiet older warrior, my heart leaps for him and he barley says anything and yet here I am in love with the guy. (its his loyalty and quiet angry yet protective persona honestly)

Personally, and I spent a lot of time thinking about this, I liked Varg’s chapters the most, his where the ones I was always looking forward to, I wanted to see his growth and the revelations that where made in his chapters at the end just left me baffled. I thought I had it figured out and Gwynne said “Girl you don’t know jack!” and then proceeded to slap me with the facts.

Gwynne created a fascinating and enticing world that just keeps you wanting more and most definitely keeps you on your toes. I will say though I was only moved to tears twice and one of those was the very last page because I feel like it was the moment we finally got to see this certain character release their pent up emotions and it broke me. There are plenty of deaths in this but only one hit me hard, the others not so much and I bring this up because I hear so many talk about the deaths he created in his previous series that where world smashing so I feel like I had my expectations set way to high for this. (Look I love when an author can make me cry okay) The only real issue I had and this is more than likely a me thing, was the pacing. I felt like I was on a boat riding the waves, the pacing was high then low then high then low and so on. But like I said it was probably a me thing since I have seen others devour this book in 1-2 days.

The Shadow of the Gods is a violent vivid Norse inspired tale that has everything from magic to monsters, vengeance to found families. Its gritty but full of heart and I can’t wait to continue the tale.

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