A Sprawling Norse Epic for the Snowy Season:The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne

A Sprawling Norse Epic for the Snowy Season:The Bloodsworn Saga by John Gwynne

The Shadow of the Gods and The Hunger of the Gods (Orbit, 2021-22). Covers by Marcus Whinney

As we head into the the holidays, prime reading season, I’m in the market for a good adventure saga. John Gwynne’s Bloodsworn Saga looks like it could fit the bill. It’s got Saga right there in the title, and big-ass monsters front and center on the covers. The universe doesn’t usually serve me stuff on a platter but, I dunno, maybe this is just one of those times.

These books are popular, and that’s not a bad sign either. The Shadow of the Gods has a whopping 19,231 ratings, and a stellar 4.29 score on Goodreads, barely a year and a half after release. It’s popular with critics, too. Medium proclaims it “Magnificent… Gwynne shows why he’s one of the genre’s best,” and Publishers Weekly calls it a “jam-packed epic… [with] blood-soaked battles against trolls and frost-spiders.”

Trolls and frost-spiders! That’s exactly what I’m talking about right there. But the review that really caught my attention was at Vulture, who included it in their Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of the Year last year.

Here’s an excerpt from that Vulture piece.

Set in a Norse-inspired world where the gods once ruled — but now their human descendants are hunted down — The Shadow of the Gods is a commanding start to Gwynne’s new series. The expansive scope of the world is quickly established, as the story vacillates between three main characters: Orka, a retired warrior who is forced to take up arms once again to save her son; Varg, an escaped slave who finds purpose in the famed mercenary band the Bloodsworn; and Elvar, a young warrior seeking to make her own name among the war band the Battle-Grim…. As tension mounts with each passing page, Gwynne delivers exhilarating fights and gruesome battles with such vivid prose the choreography jumps off the page.

The Shadow of the Gods was published in trade paperback by Orbit last May; the sequel arrived in April of this year. No word on the closing volume yet, but I have faith.

Here’s the details.

The Shadow of the Gods (Orbit, 528 pages, $16.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, May 6, 2021) — cover by Marcus Whinney
The Hunger of the Gods (Orbit, 672 pages, $17.99 trade paperback/$9.99 digital, April 14, 2022) — cover by Marcus Whinney

We previously covered the first two novels in Of Blood & Bone, the second series in The Faithful and the Fallen universe.

A Time of Blood, Book 2 of Of Blood and Bone, by John Gwynne

See all our coverage of the best new fantasy series here.

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I read those books, (actually they were the first two I got when I signed up for Audible) and I loved them. Great Action, awesome characters, and best world building in a long time


I like the narrator. Like I say, I’m new to audio-books but I had no complaints

Stan Wagenaar

Thanks for the heads up for this series; I love Norse-inspired S&S/Fantasy. If you are looking for more in the same vein, seek ye out Scott Oden’s Grimnir novels, starting with A Gathering of Ravens. Truly excellent historical S&S with Norse mythology poured into the grim and bloody mix!


I’m also a fan of Oden’s Grimnir novels


both these books are great, though i hate myself for readi ng the sexond one as soon as it was out because now we have the dreaded wait till the third book 🙁

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