cover image The Shadow of the Gods

The Shadow of the Gods

John Gwynne. Orbit, $16.99 trade paper (512p) ISBN 978-0-316-53988-3

Three hundred years after the fall of the gods, humans navigate the fjords and tundra of a broken world in the jam-packed Norse-flavored epic of blood oaths and vengeance that launches the Bloodsworn Saga series from Gwynne (A Time of Courage). To protect themselves from the monsters that now roam freely, humans scavenge divine bones and relics and chase rumors of the legendary last battlefield of the gods, where the world-tree guards their divine prison. Some go so far as to plot to use the blood of children to raise the gods. Orka, a newly widowed shieldmaid, pursues the trafficker who stole her son for this very purpose, as do the crew of the dragon-ship Wave-Jarl, whose child prisoner was taken in an attack. Also faring northward are the Bloodsworn, a mercenary company sent by Queen Helka to stop the monsters from killing her people. Blood-soaked battles against trolls and frost-spiders build to a fierce rendezvous at the foot of the shattered world-tree. Gwynne, a Viking reenactor, puts in the work, with fine historical details—especially in descriptions of weaponry—that make the story come to life. The plethora of Viking gangs and Norse kennings require some work to keep straight, but fans of the era will be delighted with the accuracy. This is a duly exciting start to the series. [em]Agent: Julia Crisp, Julia Crisp Literary. (May) [/em]