The Shadow of the Gods Review

A norse inspired novel enriched in both heart and lore.

Publisher: Orbit Books Author: John Gwynne

Page Count: 478

The Shadow of the Gods Cover Art

The excitement that has been buikding up before reading this novel has been enormous and let me tell you, this novel absolutely lives up to it’s hype. At the moment, it is going to be difficult to decide what will be my favourite book this year, The Shadow of the Gods is definitely joining my top reads of the year. This book is rich in norse lore throughout its pages, banded together by the concept of brotherhood in arms and at it’s centre is a deep story that will not fail to capture both your heart and mind. Gwynne is a master storyteller and this novel will most definitely become a must read in the Fantasy world.

The story follows the perspective of three main characters; each having a deeply enriched back story, who set themselves apart within the world. Elvar has decided to leave her roots behind, choosing not to follow the path laid out before her and choosing to join the ranks of the famous Battle-Grim. Varg, an ex-thrall breaking his bonds on a mission to find his lost sister and discovers his way into the Bloodsworn. Both of these characters provided an indepth understanding of what it meant to be a part of a warband, the companionship and way of life was enthralling to read about, I could almost picture myself in-amongst the warriors myself. The final character is Orka, who I know has gained a following within the book community, and I could instantly see why. Wanting to live her days out quietly with both her husband and son, but is soon forced on to a path of bloodshed. Her story was full of heart, and even though she is an absolute badass, I felt for her character through the whole story and it was her story that I found myself most excited for the next chapter. I enjoyed reading each perspective within the book and even the side characters along the way were all brilliantly written, and I felt not a single character was wasted within the novel.

We will live with death’s talons in our shoulders, her breath on our necks.

John Gwynne, The Shadow of the Gods

My favourite aspect of the novel was the norse inspired lore, Gwynne has done a fantastic job enriching his world with various aspects norse mythology, as well as norse traditions and even down to the weaponary used within the novel. It made the novel feel truly complete and aided in my total immersion within it’s pages. Reading about how the warbands functioned, such as, how it is disrepectful not to take the spoils from those you best in battle. One of favourite moments of the book, was the story told about the troll and the cheese, I won’t go into too much detail, but it made me laugh out loud.

The book is paced brilliantly, taking it’s time at the start to introduce both the characters and the world, allowing you to gain an understanding before building the pace up as the story really begins to take off. Action scenes are perfectly spread through the book, which are written with pure grit, wasting no time with long drawn out battle scenes, making the fights within the book seem more believable within the real world. I often find some fight scenes in novels too long, with characters battling for pages and longer than any normal person’s stamina would ever last. Reading the words as Orka’s seax bit into her opponents was a true gory delight. The other aspect of Gwynne’s writing is that it seems so accessible as a reader, the words flowing easily as I read them. I feel as though each word Gwynne wrote was chosen specificallty and with purpose.

I thought wolves ate sheep.

Sometimes we do. But not sheep that are paying us.

John Gwynne, The Shadow of the Gods.

Other than becoming a little lost in tiny moments within some of the norse related vocabulary, I have no negative critics about this novel and I would suggest it is as close to perfect as any novel could truly be. I am nothing but excited to read the sequel and see how the story progresses. This book recieves an easy 5/5 and is a must read for any fantasy fan.

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