ARC Review: The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn Saga, #1)

Title: The Shadow of the Gods

Author: John Gwynne

Publisher: Orbit

Published: May 4, 2021

Pages: 496

Format: e-ARC through Netgalley- Thank you, Orbit!

This is my very first book by Gwynne! I was really excited to be approved for an ARC through Netgalley, via Orbit! Thank you so much. It has in no way influenced my opinions. 🙂

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads, in case you have no idea what this book is about:

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 . . .”

My Review:

To be honest, I went into this book blind and strictly off of my peer (book blogger) reviews. I am really glad I did because it has become my favorite way to read books lately. It did make things a bit more intense and surprising.

This book focuses on three main characters: Orka, Varg, & Elvar.

Orka is by far my favorite in this book. I don’t know if it’s for the fact that I have a son and I just related to that aspect of her story. I would do what she did, no regrets. She’s ruthless and has one goal- to find her son. One of the things I found most interesting about her characters, is how much her son had an influence. Honestly, this kid had so much wisdom at his age and he taught his mom a lot. There are few things that he brings up to her that she later practices. It makes the world of difference in what happens and who ends up helping her when she’s in a tough spot. He shows so much compassion and mercy that I think that translated well for her to apply, in certain situations. The struggle she feels from trying to reign in her full force warrior to showing compassion is something I enjoyed about her. I can say, her story had the most impact on my emotions.

Varg’s story on the other hand is one that I struggled the most with. I’m not sure if it wasn’t because I didn’t relate to anything or just that his story felt a little boring to me. There are times that it just drags on and nothing happens. By the end of the book, I did see how his story connected and appreciated it a bit more. I still wanted more from him though. I think that’s something that can happen in the next book.

Elvar’s story was interesting and full of shock at times. I did have times where I kind of disconnected from her and her story was just flat. I have to admit that I was way more interested in Uspa and her story. I want more from her story in the next book. She saved a lot of the chapters for me. I think with Elvar, I needed more growth as a character. She’s just after battle fame and I wanted a little more from her at the end. There is a lot of potential in the next book though.

All in all, the characters were good but I found myself losing interest in them at certain points. I do see how there is a larger story coming together but it takes a long time to get there. I think that’s why it slowed my reading pace down a bit.

The story itself was compelling. The writing was good if at times it was rather slow-paced. I think with the characters losing some steam at times, it made my pace slow down a lot. I don’t mind a slow burn book but this is a bit slower, so keep that in mind. I do think it would have been a bit easier if we would have had a glossary too. I know, I’ve seen this complaint a bit. There’s a lot of things I didn’t understand and we had no glossary to help out with that. It would have made a big difference.

The last 20% of the book picks up. The ending was really good. So much is happening at once and the climax was great! I didn’t see that coming and it was a brilliant end to this book! I will say, there’s nothing that ties up neatly, so keep that in mind too.

Overall, this was a great opening and I will be continuing the series. I need to know what happens with Orka’s story. I know, a lot of people love his previous work and I can’t wait to jump into those too.

6 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

  1. I bought this book basically because of the cover and the fact it was all over instagram lol I don’t know a whole lot about it. I’m glad you enjoyed it even if it was a bit slow at times. I’ll keep that in mind when I decide to read it. Thank you for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome! Yep, I saw it all over everything and had to have it. lol. The cover is awesome! I have been told by a few that his previous series (Malice is book 1) is better. But yeah, very slow at times!


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