- Author: John Gwynn
- Date of publication: 6th May 2021
- Genre: Epic Fantasy
- Pages: 496
- Publisher: Orbit
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 . . .
taken from goodreads
Review and Recommendation:
I became aware of the book on twitter as kind of every fantasy blogger I follow reviewed the book on Netgalley. As I also follow his sons on twitter and YouTube (excellent channel if you’re interested in fantasy book reviews (The Brothers Gwynne)) I decided to get myself the book too.
Looking at the stunning cover of the book also supported the need to buy it. It turned out with me buying it in three different versions: The hard cover book, the e-book and the audio book on audible. So I finally ended up listening to it and reading it on my kindle when I could not listen. The audiobook version is really recommendable as the reader, Colin Mace, is doing a really good job with this book. I already listened to his audiobook version of Black Wing by Ed McDonald and I really like his voice and the way he brings the different characters to life.
The Shadows of the Gods is told in the third person narrative and it alternates in the views of the three main characters: Orka, Varg and Elvar. All of them are thrust into a quest for glory and revenge and have to cope with the harsh surrounding they find themselves in. The world the story is set in is a hard and cruel one. The gods died but there are still traces of their power left and their bones are lying around or used as tools of power. Also in some people there can be found traces of godly power as they have sired children with humans. Those „halfbreeds“ have different powers, depending on which god they are decended from. And in this world they are viewed as minor beings and kept as slaves, brought to heel by humans by the use of magic collars. As this treatment is what everyone is used to no one rebels or even thinks about those methods at a first glance.
Not also does this world contain traces of gods and magic but it also contains different „vaesen“, dark creatures like for example a tennúr that eat human teeth. And of course there are nordic mythic creatures in it like trolls .
Despite it being a hard world it is easy to relate to it and the characters. If you know a bit about Nordic mythology you will find it easy to get along in this world, especially as John Gwynne’s world building is superb. So kind of everything you know is real in this world and depicted in a very realistic way.
My most favorite character is Orka. That is probably because she is a mother and I am a mother too. So it was really easy for me to connect with her although I am no way near as tough as she is, but her actions and her way of thinking are very relatable to me. What really impressed me in about this book are the many tough and independent female characters. I would even go so far as to call them dominant in this book. You can find those kick-ass heroines in The Shadow of the Gods in all social ranks and age groups. This sets the book apart from other fantasy books with their typical male hero.
One review I read stated that the book is too full of blood, gore and disgusting descriptions. I did not feel this way at all. Maybe I have read too much grim dark fantasy already but in my opinion the book is not too bloody or brutal. It is set in a harsh world so it was to be expected that it is not a ride into the sunset on a unicorn. Another review stated that the used language is full of repetitions. The only repetition I found was the word „thought cage“. I know it is supposed to fit into the Viking like time but sometimes I would have preferred another word. But that is a very minor and objective thing and the only „flaw“ I could find in this book.
In total I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and if you are interested in epic fantasy set in a Norse inspired book you have to read this book as it really is fantastic! I really hope that the German translation will be good as I definitely want to give the book to some of my friends for Christmas.
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