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 best-selling 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.
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....
"John Gwynne is one of the modern masters of heroic fantasy." (Adrian Tchaikovsky)
"John Gwynne writes fantasy with the heart of a hero and the inventiveness of a master mage." (Sebastien de Castell)
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An Authentic Viking Fantasy Delight
Once again, John Gwynne has whipped up something incredible.
The Bloodsworn Trilogy is off to a good start with this novel, weaving three distinct plotlines with a level of authenticity that warrants applause.
All three point of view characters are memorable, contributing their own spin to the worldbuilding, including the fantasy elements and socio-political landscape. Nothing feels wasted, or pointless, and the hooks for the remainder of the trilogy are numerous. Whichever way things develop from the end of this book, I'm in for the long haul.
Compared to John's previous body of work, the Faithful and the Fallen (4 big books) and its sequel trilogy Of Blood and Bone (3 novels), I'd say that The Shadow of the Gods is both familiar but at the same time more "mature" in its themes and cast. While in previous works, we saw the characters grow throughout their adventures, a lot of that was down to them being rather young, with a limited amount of life experience, or battles fought.
Here, though, we are introduced to characters that already lived through many hardships of their own, or having earned their reputation. We have an ex-slave, a hot-blooded mother and a mid-twenties warrior trying to escape the chains of her family's expectations. All of these have baggage, but also clear-cut goals and needs. And despite their massive differences in personality and life expectations, all three struggles contribute to the others by approaching similar or shared themes from different angles.
As for the fantastical elements, I am pleased to say that they feel deeply rooted in the worldbuilding already - which, in turn, draws heavily on norse mythology, without being a copy & paste interpretation of the myths themselves. You'll see familiar elements, but everything feels fresh and with a cool spin on it.
As for the audiobook production, I am delighted to hear Colin Mace once more; I was a big fan of his narration of Ed McDonald's Raven's Mark trilogy, and he's a perfect pick for the tone of the Bloodsworn trilogy.
I'm thoroughly convinced that John Gwynne's getting up to something special here.