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"The Shadow of the Gods" and "The Hunger of the Gods" by John Gwynne. Image courtesy of Amazon.

REVIEW: A Norse-inspired fantasy trilogy to enchant

If you are prone to buying and reading books because TikTok said so, we need to be friends. A few weeks ago, a book by John Gwynne caught my eye and the giant dragon on the cover for “The Shadow of the Gods” sold me.

Gwynne is no stranger to adult fantasy books. He has written two lengthy fantasy series prior to “The Bloodsworn Trilogy.” The trilogy, so far, only contains “The Shadow of the Gods” and “The Hunger of the Gods.” When I tell you I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner for two weeks straight, I mean it.

In the first book, “The Shadow of the Gods,” Gwynne introduces the Norse-inspired land called Vigrið (pronounced Vigri-th). Lucky for us, Gwynne provides a glossary at the end of the book detailing the pronunciation and meanings of various words from his Nordic world. It certainly helps if you are interested in Norse mythology.

There is detailed world-building throughout the entirety of both books, but not so much that it muddles the enjoyment of reading. I’m convinced that Gwynne must know the secret formula to sprinkling a little bit of scenery here keep you flipping pages effortlessly.

While both novels follow several characters’ points of view, the first book only follows three main characters: Orka, Elvar and Varg. All of them have different perspectives and storylines, but all are badass warriors. The second book, “The Hunger of the Gods,” adds two more perspectives to the storyline, which gives a interesting look into the dynamics of other characters.

The character-building and progression of their stories was very enjoyable. Gwynne introduces his main characters with little information about who they are, but with each scene and battle they face, it forces them to grow in emotionally complex ways. The growth matures the main characters, even though they are well into their adult lives.

Gwynne did not hold back when writing the battle scenes. When you think there is no way he can kill off more characters, he does it brutally. There was no skipping out on the gory and gruesome details of battle. As Orka says, “Hard words are needed for this hard world.”

Reading about the dead gods and mythical creatures was my guilty pleasure. It added an extraordinary fantasy element to the novels. Dragons, wolves, trolls, berserkers, frost spiders, winged-rats that steal and munch on teeth, witches and rune magic – these books have it all.

Above all, these books include many different tropes. It felt like I was reading three different novels in one and I loved every page. You’ll encounter betrayal, love, heartbreak, vengeance, bloodlust, shifting power dynamics and so much more.

The Norse-mythology mixed with fantasy that Gwynne weaves into these novels is nothing short of epic. So far, this trilogy is an amazing display of deeply cunning storytelling.

Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at culture or on Twitter @squidneywrites.

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Sydney Walker

Sydney Walker is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @squidneywrites. 

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