‘The Shadow of the Gods’ by John Gwynne | @JohnGwynne_ @orbitbooks @Gambit589

Author : John Gwynne
Title : The Shadow of the Gods
Series : The Bloodsworn Saga #1
Pages : 480
Publisher : Orbit UK
Publication date : May 4, 2021


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.


First things first. I am in no way, shape or form a reader of fantasy novels. My experience goes as far as binge-reading the Game of Thrones series a few years ago and even longer ago, little known books about adventures with hobbits and lords of rings or some such. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I’m all for broadening my reading horizons lately, especially on those days where my favourite genre lets me down somewhat, and for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on fantasy seems to be the genre I gravitate towards. Over the past year or so though, nothing has stuck. Until now.

Not being a fantasy reader, I’m sure it comes as no surprise to hear I’d never heard of John Gwynne. So what better way to be introduced to the man with the beginning of a brand-new trilogy. Although to be fair, it was that glorious cover that first captured my attention. There be dragons! Squee! Sorry. Anyway, this is the first instalment in the Bloodsworn Saga and it’s pretty darn good!

I don’t know what it is about The Shadow of the Gods that drew me in but it fairly quickly had me hook, line and sinker. Not all of it, I have to admit. There are three characters whose journeys the reader follows and for the longest time I felt one of them was totally unnecessary. But with their various parts to play and their different backgrounds, all the while surrounded by a vast cast of equally brilliant supporting characters I soon felt as if I was on an adventure with them. In the meantime, children go missing from their homes. It’s fair to say these multiple storylines will come together at some point but how, where or when?

The Shadow of the Gods is steeped in Norse mythology. The Gods went to war with each other and drove themselves to extinction but the bones of the dead Gods still hold their power. And where there is power to be gained, there are humans willing to risk whatever it takes to get it. So off we trot through this brutal and unforgiving land that John Gwynne brings to life so incredibly well that I expected Vikings to jump off the pages any second. With vivid descriptions and a delightful Scandinavian atmosphere, the location is almost a character all on its own.

It’s fairly obvious from my first introduction to John Gwynne’s work that he is a remarkable storyteller. Even with this being quite the slow-burner; which is to be expected from the first book in a trilogy; as the author builds the world, sets the scene and introduces the characters, I never lost interest. Admittedly I did often get confused as I tried to wrap my head around all the names and tried to keep the characters straight. But once I got the hang of that, it was plain sailing all the way.

Witches, dragons, sword and axe fights, myths and magic, Gods, … what more could you possibly want? The Shadow of the Gods is an often brutal tale but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I eagerly await the next book in the series so I can continue the journey with Varg, Orka and Elvar. I’m most definitely going to need a recap though.

Huge thanks to Nazia at Orbit for the fabulous proof copy! All opinions are my own.

Amazon UK | Bookshop UK | Hive UK | Kobo | Waterstones

  7 comments for “‘The Shadow of the Gods’ by John Gwynne | @JohnGwynne_ @orbitbooks @Gambit589

  1. May 27, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    I saw this review on your blog and I was like – wait. what? 😀 hahaha… as I said on Goodreads- totally awesome you’re dipping your toe in! Long may the fantasy enjoyment continue 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 7, 2021 at 11:47 am

      Hahaha! I surprised myself so I can only imagine what everyone else thought. My current fantasy read isn’t grabbing me at all though so maybe this one was a fluke 😉


      • June 10, 2021 at 9:36 am

        What you reading at the moment? Or read…

        Liked by 1 person

        • June 10, 2021 at 1:17 pm

          It was Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Not for me at all. I might lean more towards GoT type fantasy. The only way to find out is to read more in the genre 🤷🏼‍♀️😂


  2. May 28, 2021 at 8:01 am

    It’s great you enjoyed this even though you don’t usually read fantasy. I feel same for thrillers lately, I need lots of cajoling to pick them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • June 7, 2021 at 11:48 am

      There are still some good ones around though! I can definitely recommend The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain, When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummings and The Pact by Sharon Bolton.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: