Without a doubt, this is one of the best fantasy novels I have read in a long, long time. It’s not particularly unique or mind-blowing in any way, but it is so engrossing and well-written that I cannot stop raving about it to anyone who asks.
The Shadow of the Gods takes place in a HEAVILY Norse-inspired world where the gods are all dead after battling amongst each other in a Rangarok-style event. These gods had children, and these children are known as the Tainted amongst humans. Tainted people have similar powers to their god parent. The wolf-gods children howl, grow sharp teeth and claws, and are good at hunting. The bear-gods children go berserk, and are known as berserkirs. The fox-gods children are good-looking and cunning, etc. The Tainted are hunted, and treated as second-class citizens. Its not a good thing to be Tainted.
There are three POV characters in this book, and each one was so well-rounded and interesting that I was thoroughly engrossed in all three storylines. My favorite of the bunch, however, was Orka. Orka is a complete badass. She and her husband have a son, Breca, who ends up being stolen towards the beginning of the novel. She spends the rest of the book trying to find him, and kicks some major ass while doing so. I couldn’t help but picture her as Lagertha from Vikings the entire book.
John Gwynne’s writing is so atmospheric and detailed that you can see the book taking place in your head. This world is bleak, but beautiful. There’s no shortage of action, and some serious violence. Each POV character is a fighter, and the violence pretty much doesn’t end. However, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. It’s just a part of the world that this book takes place in. It’s a violent, bloody world, and we see the reasons behind it. The book moves along at a decent pace, and at no point was I bored. The ending of this book is phenomenal.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of the next book in the Bloodsworn Saga, The Hunger of the Gods. I’ll be moving right onto it next, because I cannot wait to find out what happens to these characters.