Shadow of The Gods- REVIEW!
I don't really know where to start on this one. John Gwynne is an eternally nice guy who maintains solid fan communication and is a prolific writer. I enjoyed my foray into the Banished Lands with his first and second series, so when NetGalley approved an ebook copy of this I had to read it.
Now heres where people are probably going to rip their hair out. I have read positive review after review ad nauseam pertaining to this book. It's to the point where you look at different review sites and see that all the reviews could have been copy and pasted over and over again. Gah sometimes I wouldn't know. I was reading different reviews since they all sound so similar.
I am all for giving a book and author praise when I feel it deserves it. Again, this is just my opinion, so if you think that Shadow was and will be the best book put out all year, please read a different review.
I will still try to remain non spoilery, especially since it is so new. Let's start with what I liked?
The creatures- I see a good amount of the creatures and world-building have inspiration in viking lore, and that was the fun part about this book.
I liked Elvars POV. The mystery (at first) regarding his backstory, yes could appear cliche, but was fun and engaging.
The world-building stayed in line with what we are to expect from John Gwynne,
Comparing it to his previous series, I saw a definite improvement in world-building and in character relationships. a few felt forced, but otherwise read smoothly and realistic.
Heres what I didn't find particularly pleasing about this book
Orka.... *Possible Spoilers* That event in the beginning with her family send her into a homicidal rage. Yes I get it, It was a traumatic event, but she just went on a murdering spree of anyone she assumed had something to do with it, It felt like just blatant murder with no consequences. Few parts where I wondered where anyone was to stop her from mindlessly slaughtering multiple people. Not a big fan of Orka, even though she's a fan favorite.
The Thralls threw me off a bit, I liked the horror element they brought but when they were talked about it felt a bit cringe.
Do I think this was Gwynne's best book so far? quite possibly yes, and I know that this medieval fantasy is his thing, that's fine, do your thing, but It struck me how extremely similar it was to his other books, with just diff names of places and people. Almost felt like going back into the banished lands again, and I was hoping to not feel that way.
As a reader it's none of my business to tell an author to try to write something else or stop writing medieval fantasy, Gwynne has a following that welcomes this and thats fine. I wasn't feeling this one as much as I would have hoped to.
Gwynne's strong points are World-building and plot progression and execution. What I was hoping for was character development. Of course there is some, but the characters is what drives the story. If the character feels empty or one sided, it's going to be hard to be engaged, and this happened with a few of his characters in this book.
Like I said I don't enjoy nagging on Gwynne, he seems like an awesome person, but I wasn't feeling this book. I will definitely keep him on my radar of course but I was hoping to enjoy this more.