The Shadow of the Gods - Spoiler-Free Review - The Fantasy Review

The Shadow of the Gods – Spoiler-Free Review

The Shadow of the Gods is an amazing beginning to John Gwynne’s new series The Bloodsworn Saga and I’m already full of anticipation and excitement for the sequels.

I believe that this novel sets up the story for the sequels and you can clearly see it from the way it’s written. Having read Malice and the rest of the books in The Faithful and the Fallen series I was ready for this. Naturally, the plot might seem a bit slow in the beginning until it starts picking up as it is establishing all of the characters and different plot points which I loved seeing.

TSOTG follows 3 main characters: Orka, a fierce mother who’s ready to do anything for her family; Varg, an ex-thrall who’s hunting for his sister’s killer; and Elvar, a shield-sister of the Battle-Grim who wants all of her achievements to be her own.

1. Characters

Orka is a strong and fierce character whom I enjoyed reading about the most, because I loved her devotion to her family and her determination. I loved seeing how even though she was determined to exact her revenge as soon as possible, she was still somewhat willing to help these kids on their own path for revenge. I loved seeing their interactions. I also feel like they somewhat helped her stay grounded just like Thorkel did before.

I have to say that I loved the little hints sprinkled here and there about a certain thing in the book that ends up being very important. I managed to guess a few things and also completely missed it about others. I’m very interested to know more about Orka, especially her past because it sounds like she’s had quite a life before she settled down and I’m really curious to know how it all happened.

I could tell right from the start that once Orka lost what kept her grounded, she’d be a force to be reckoned with and I was right. I can’t wait to read more about her.

Varg is also an interesting character whom I, surprisingly, managed to connect with. I loved following his story and his interaction with the Bloodsworn. I want to know more about him and see if he’ll manage to find what happened to his sister as well as adjust to his new situation.

Elvar was the most confusing character for me as I didn’t really understand her purpose until later on. I’m actually excited to see how her story will progress and whether her values in life would change or not. I feel like even though she’s already lived a dangerous life, she can still be quite naive about other things. After finishing the book, I understand the role she played in the story and am intrigued to see more of her.

2. Found families

In The Shadow of the Gods we have 2 found families: the Bloodsworn and the Battle-Grim. They are two different types of found families but I believe they can still be considered such, especially the Bloodsworn.

They are both shield brothers and sisters but they deal with two very different things. For example, the Battle-Grim deals in trading Tainted people to the highest bidder while the Bloodsworn have a different agenda.

I loved seeing the different relationships in both crews but I especially loved reading about the Bloodsworn. I feel like they have a much better and light-hearted relationship than the Battle-Grim while still maintaining the proper chain of command. There was some nice banter and great stories about cheese.

The Shadow of the Gods - Spoiler-Free Review

3. Story

As I said earlier, the story in this first novel is setting up the future events in the series. While each of the characters are going on their own journeys, I could clearly follow only Orka’s story because to me it felt like it was the main point of the plot and the other characters’ purpose became clearer more towards the end but I enjoyed reading about them nontheless.

I loved the mysterious element to the plot. Why are these killings happening? How are they happening and why are they killing people and kidnapping children? What’s their purpose?

While we still don’t have all of the answers to these questions, there have been some small and big hints as to what might follow. I’m definitely very curious about how everything would unravel and what is the children’s purpose.

The story is just beginning and I’m already excited for the sequel because what happened, especially at the end, was truly epic. I loved the last chapter because I didn’t expect it and I would love to see certain characters interact. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Thank you to Orbit books UK for sending me an early copy for review!

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Contributor to The Fantasy Review. Loves all things fantasy, sci-fi, and LGBTQIA+ novels, manga and when she isn’t reading, she’s most likely watching K-dramas.


  1. This is a book I greatly enjoyed and wanted to see what you thought. I truly appreciate the concise, to the point comments and you hit every salient point. Thanks and well done!

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