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The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne Book Review

Book: The Shadow of the Gods

Series: Bloodsworn Saga #1

Author: John Gwynne

480 pages, Hardcover

First published May 4, 2021

 The Shadow of the Gods  Book Cover

I knew I’d like it as soon as I read the first sentence. And I’m not just talking about the annotation…

There comes the shadow-dark dragon flying,
The gleaming serpent, up from Dark-of-Moon Hills;
He flies over the plain, and in his pinions
he carries corpses.
The Voluspa

What is to be expected?

  • Epic fantasy
  • A dark, cruel world
  • Unique magic system
  • Battles, bloodshed
  • Storyline inspired by Norse mythology
  • Violent scenes
  • Many actors

Storyline in The Shadow of the Gods

John Gwynn takes us into a world characterized by the atmosphere of the Vikings. Images from The 13th Warrior, one of my favorite movies, kept running through my head the whole time. The world is very dark, violent and dangerous and Vigrid is a place where only those who don’t hesitate to spill blood survive.

Vigrid is a dangerous world populated by fantastic creatures. Its scope is breathtaking, and I won’t even mention how brilliant John Gwynn is. Seriously, we have a city inside the skull of the fallen god Snakа.

The magic in the book comes from the relics and bones of the fallen gods. They have the power to banish demonic beings or grant power to their bearers. There are also the blood descendants of the gods, who are hunted and kept as slaves, because depending on which god they descend from, they have special powers.

The world is revealed to us through the eyes of the different characters. We follow the story of 3 heroes, each on their own personal path of revenge or quest for glory. I’ll tell you a little about the characters to convince you to pick up this saga.


Orca. I think I’m among the many who call her their favorite character from the book. Orca is an unbeatable warrior, strong, determined and brutal to the point where your hair will stand on end. But don’t expect the typical “tough” heroine. Oh no, think more like one of Abercrombie’s heroes, only on steroids. But that’s not what makes her so special. I don’t know if it’s because I’m seeing it from the parent’s point of view, or if it’s because of the author’s mastery of conveying those particular feelings, but Orca impressed me with her strong devotion to her family. Her mother’s love and devastating anger made her a very memorable character for me. I can’t wait to find out how her story continues.

Elvar. It took me a while to warm up to this heroine. She didn’t particularly stand out in the first part of the book, but as I learned more about her past and what really drives her, she definitely had a place in my heart. Elvar has a lot of inner struggles and strength to defy her fate. With this heroine and with the character of Varg, the author again emphasizes loyalty to family. But there is a big difference here. These characters aren’t about the blood family, but about the ones you have chosen and created for yourself. Brothers in arms and destiny, a bond that is sometimes much stronger than common blood.

Varg. My beloved Varg. He’s the kind of character that immediately captures the reader’s heart. He grew up as a slave and had only one loved one who was taken away from him. Varg wants to find the culprit and avenge his sister’s death, but to do so he must find a seer who will reveal her final moments to him. His mission binds him to the Bloodswor fighting force. In this truly violent world that John Gwynn immerses us in, following Varg’s path is a real treasure. How a hero, who until recently lived alone and lonely, gradually makes friends and becomes one of the toughest warriors in Vigrid. They call him their “brother”.

The Bloodsworn Saga Guidebook

My rating for The Shadow of the Gods

This book isn’t for the faint-hearted. Not only is the atmosphere dark, everything in the book is laced with violence. Vigrid is a violent place. If you’re not sold as a slave and forced to work until you pass out, there’s a good chance you’ll be eaten by an evil demon.

The plot is very dynamic and is divided into different chapters for each character. As each of them goes through different difficulties, the pages fly by. And I’ll say it again. The book is particularly gory, but will certainly appeal to fans of epic fantasy.

The secrets surrounding the characters and the history of the world are gradually revealed. I think John Gwynn has done a great job with the world-building and the magic system. The reader can completely immerse themselves in the atmosphere and imagine the small details, such as the creaking rope to which a corpse is tied…

I’ve always admired Brandon Sanderson for his ability to take me with him until the last 50 pages of his books. Well, John Gwynn can do that too. The world, the story, the mystery, the characters and what he serves up at the end are more than enough for me to award 5 stars and secretly pray to the gods that the third volume comes out in English soon.

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 . . .


Hello, my name is Todora, but now also known as Dochka or Docheto. I have two wonderful dragons at home (boys ages 5 and 7) that I am trying to raise in the love of books. I was quite a chatterbox as a kid when I had required reading in school, and now I am trying to make up for it. I love reading fantasy, sweet endings are not my "thing". I love it when there are struggles, intrigue, and surprises in a book that shake you to your core. If I fell into paranoia that all the characters were traitors, my rating would be 5 stars. In short, I love to read and if one day I find a way to make this my sole occupation and get paid for it :D, I will have stumbled into heaven.

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