The Witcher meets Vikings: The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne #bookreview #TheShadowOfTheGods

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 . . .


Hi and welcome to my review of The Shadow of the Gods!

First, a confession: this has been my first John Gwynne novel… I know!! Where have I been, right?! While I hang my head in shame, I am very happy to report I see the error of my ways and stand corrected, firmly Team Gwynne from now on!

What made me want to read a book by a new-to-me author? Apart from the drop dead gorgeous cover, you mean? This:

The Witcher meets Vikings in this Norse-inspired epic tale of myth, magic and bloody vengeance.

Now, I haven’t read the Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski,  but I did love the show. I swear that had nothing to do with Henry Cavill!


Sorry, what was I saying? Right! I was about to say I also enjoyed Vikings, I mean what’s not to love, and myth, magic and bloody vengeance are in fact my bag, so I knew I was in for a treat with this one.

The Shadow of the Gods alternates between three points of view: Orka, a huntress and mum, Varg, a freed slave fighting his way into a band of mercenaries known as the Bloodsworn, and Elvar, a woman from noble descent who left her home refusing to be her father’s pawn and is part of another band of mercenaries. Following Orka, Varg and Elvar on their individual paths I was sure these were to cross sooner or later, either in The Shadow of the Gods itself or in a sequel, and I couldn’t help but speculate how and when and where that might happen.

The Shadow of the Gods delivers exactly what it promises: with an abundance of characters sporting Norse names, waving axes and seaxes and sailing in dragon boats, it breathes Vikings. The presence of magical creatures, on the other hand, and people who are Tainted, not quite human, remnants of the Gods, is very Witchery. 

The Shadow of the Gods is 100% a brilliant take on Norse mythology. The Gods may be dead and gone (are they though) but they have not been forgotten. Their descendants walk the earth, some biding their time, most hiding in plain sight for fear of being enslaved.

The writing is evocative and descriptive (but not overly so), the worldbuilding is simply excellent: a combination that makes this a truly luscious story.

The Shadow of the Gods is open-ended, no huge surprise there, it is a Saga, there’s a lot to tell. It does not, however, end on a major cliffhanger, always a huge relief. Still, I can’t wait to continue, if I had the second book ready, I’d read it right now. If you can read nigh on 500 pages and are still eager for more, you know you have a winner on your hands.

With all the storylines and substorylines and a rather big cast of characters, I do hope the second book in the Bloodsworn Saga will come with a “previously on” to help out memory impaired readers like me 😬

Overall, The Shadow of the Gods is just as epic (in every sense of the word) as its cover and if epic fantasy is your bag, you need to get a hold of this one IMMEDIATELY. 

The Shadow of the Gods is out now in digital formats, audio and hardcover.

Huge thanks to Orbit for the gorgeous proof copy! All opinions are still my own.

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