ARC Review: The Shadow of the Gods or a great start for an amazing epic fantasy!

Hello and happy Monday! I hope that your week has started in the best possible way! I have quite a long week ahead of me, but I am pretty optimistic (and I am keeping my finger crossed just in case!) but I am finally back with a review, so I will just go ahead and try to write something that can make sense!

Thanks to NetGalley and to the Editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: The Shadow of the Gods
Series: Bloodsworn Saga #1
Author: John Gwynne
Pages: 496
Publication Date: May 4th, 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 . . .

To be quite honest, I don’t really know how to go with this review, because on one hand this is an amazing book and I can see why a lot of people loved it. Really. But on the other hand, I didn’t love it as much as I was expecting. Mind me, I enjoyed it a lot, and I devoured it even if it is quite a chunky book (around 500 is not the chunkiest of all, but it is a start, right?) because I was quite intrigued by it all, but I was hoping to fall in love with it and this just didn’t happen. It was one of those books that I could not put down while I was reading it, but once I put that down I wasn’t really eager to go back to it, strangely enough!

Anyway, as I was saying this has a lot of things going on for it. We have an interesting new world, with some interesting creatures and some fascinating landscape, especially so if you like the winter and unpolluted nature. The Norse inspiration is quite strong here, for the setting sure (it reminded me of the wonders I saw when I visited Norway, a couple of years ago), but also for the lore of this world and for the culture.
And I really loved the culture and the society there. I loved to see fierce women side by side with fierce men. It is a hard and harsh world, where nothing is free or easy, sure, but everyone can reach the fame (if you are not one of the Tainted, sure) and the glory and find their own place in the world. Mind me, it is not easy, and not everyone has the same opportunities, and sure there is as much injustice and corruption and fallacy as in every human society, this is not a perfect world, and it is not just or fair or easy. At all. But you can see some hard work that pays back, and this is a thing that I really appreciated. (Also, I am not an expert by any means, but I think that the author did a lot of research for this work, kudos for him!).

The world-building is exceptionally well developed, and you can lose yourself in here. It was pure bliss! And we have also an interesting cast of characters. They are a lot, every one of them well developed and with their own unique personality, and with each of the main ones we have a thread in the story. And in the beginning they don’t have converge at all and you don’t even see how they will converge (and to be honest, they won’t really converge until the end, and not even then) but you follow along because you know that you are in for a great adventure. And the adventure is promptly delivered to you, that’s for sure.
Sadly I think that my main problem was with the characters. I am a highly characters driven reader, and this means that I need to connect with the characters, I need to really feel them and be hooked by them, by their story, by their dialogues, and by their persona. And it was a bit hard for me with these characters. This is not to say that I didn’t like them. I have liked all of them, but I didn’t manage to deeply connect with most of them.
My favorite was Varg. I loved to see him making his path in this world, and I really loved his new family. Found family is one of my favorite tropes, and in there we get a great example of it. And I am pretty curious to see how things would develop with them in the next book. And I appreciated a lot also all the members of this new family, they all are worth meeting!
And then we have Orka. She is an amazing character. She is intense, resolute, and quite frankly, insane. She is impulsive too, to put it mildly. But she is also strong-willed and caring, in her own ways. And she is freaking good as a warrior!!!! Reading about her fighting was amazing! And from time to time she reminded me a bit of Logen Ninefingers from The First Law series by Abercrombie. And this was a big bonus!
And, last but not least, we have Elvar. She was the least favorite of mine, but I am not saying she is not a good character. It is just that I could not deeply connect with her. She was interesting, sure, and she is a strong-willed and fierce young woman, who is deadly in her own right. But there was something lacking for me. She is also with some pretty interesting characters, that help along and I was not bored when I was reading her chapters, but I had the hardest time with her.

And with some really interesting main characters, we have a lot of side characters who are alive and intriguing. The fact that I didn’t love this book as much as I was hoping is not as bad as it can sound. Sure, I was hoping to be more involved by all of this, and sure there was something lacking in it for me, but I had an amazing time reading it and it was marvelous to explore this new world, and to get to know the religion, the lore and to see all the creatures that we meet. It is a solid book, and an amazing start for an epic series, that’s for sure!

And that’s all for today! Have you read this book? Or are you planning to do it?? Let me know!

Happy reading!

9 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Shadow of the Gods or a great start for an amazing epic fantasy!

  1. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    I saw from a previous reply that this is your first Gwynne book, and probably the reason you remained a little detached from it comes from the fact that you are new to his storytelling style and need some more time to get used to it: once it happens (and I’m sure it will!) you will be able to enjoy his stories better 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: JANUARY WRAP-UP!

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