The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn #1) – John Gwynne

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 528
Release Date: May 4, 2021

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 . . .


The Shadow of the Gods is my second Gwynne novel and it will be my last. I requested The Shadow of the Gods hoping to understand Gwynne’s hype. I won’t deny Gwynne is a talented writer with incredible vision for his novels, however I haven’t been unable to fully connect with his story and characters. The Shadow of the Gods did not change this.

The Shadow of the Gods is told from three perspectives: Orka, Varg, and Elvar. Orka is an ex-warrior and mother, Varg is an escaped slave, and Elvar is part of a fighting company looking for glory. It’s hard to describe them with more detail as their motivations are tied closely to the plot.

Out of the three perspectives, I enjoyed Orka’s the most. She’s a competent warrior and devoted mother. Varg interested me at the beginning of the novel, however his perspective became tedious quickly. Finally, Elvar grew on me. By the end of the novel I was looking forward to her chapters.

The Shadow of the Gods is rooted deeply in viking lore and Norse mythology. These aspects of the novel are what intrigued me the most about The Shadow of the Gods, however I have very little knowledge of the subjects. For this reason, I felt lost for most of the novel. 

The biggest criticism I have of the novel is that I was 114 pages into the novel and it still had no direction. The characters were still wandering around seemingly doing nothing. I usually have no problem with this in fantasy novels, however I didn’t connect with the characters or the story making it very difficult to read at times.

One of my favourite parts of the novel was a story about why a certain character always carries a piece of cheese. The story had a Tolkien-esque vibe that I really enjoyed.

Overall, The Shadow of the Gods was not for me. As mentioned previously, this will be my last Gwynne novel. I have great difficulty connecting with his storytelling and characters. 

*** I received an arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Will you be reading The Shadow of the Gods?

3 thoughts on “The Shadow of the Gods (The Bloodsworn #1) – John Gwynne

  1. I am going to read this soon, and it will be my first John Gwynne book. So I have no idea what to expect or even guess how it will work for me! Sorry it didn’t work for you.

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