Slaughtered Gods – Review

Author – Thilde Kold Holdt

Pages – 656

Publishing Information – October 22nd 2022, Solaris.

Genre – Historical Fantasy & Mythology

The One Sentence Review

Slaughtered Gods is a stunning finale to the Hanged God trilogy; love, loss, teeth, beasts, axe-blades, fire, Gods and darkness collide in a dramatic and worthy depiction of Ragnarök.

The Blurb

The great wolf howls for Ragnarok to begin. The half-giant Einer leads an army of the dead to clash with the golden shields of Asgard. The nornir tie and retie their threads, as Loki’s and Odin’s schemes unfold… and unravel. For not even cunning gods and giants see every part of the web.

As the survivors of the burned village of Ash-hill converge on the final battle on Ida’s Plain, only two are truly free to choose their paths and prevent the annihilation of the nine worlds: a storyteller who holds all destinies in his hands, and a shieldmaiden with no destiny at all.


As soon as I saw the first reveal for book one in the Hanged God trilogy, Northern Wrath, I was excited. That was back in summer 2020, when I was developing a renewed interest in the Viking Age, the sagas and mythology.

I’d not long finished Neil Gaiman’s spellbinding Norse Mythology when I started Northern Wrath and both books cemented an enduring love for all things Norse.

Northern Wrath is an incredible debut that had me anticipating book two, Shackled Fates, ever since I turned the last page of book one. Shackled Fates really ramped up the mythology after Northern Wrath, which presented a story much closer to historical fiction. It delivered another spellbinding, exciting, blood splattered and emotional tale.

After reading the full saga – and it is a saga in all senses of the word – I am gobsmacked at the scope, the expert level of storytelling and emotional pull of the three books combined, and of course delighted that on its own, Slaughtered Gods is just as brilliant as books one and two.

If you’re wondering why I say ‘just as brilliant’ and not ‘the best yet’ it’s because I love all three books equally and they all bring their own unique flavour! Unlike some debuts where the first book is a learning experience, The Hanged God trilogy is a triumph from the first page to the last.

The three books do actually feel like one book split into acts, rather than three separate stories as some trilogies do, but as mentioned above, there is a clear flavour to each. Northern Wrath reads like a historical fiction novel with a sprinkle of mythology and magic thrown in. Shackled Fates introduces us to gods, we go to Asgard; the mythology very much comes alive whilst the historical references are raging. And in Slaughtered Gods, on the eve of Ragnarök as you would expect, the mythology and magic takes centre stage and dominates the proceedings.

I love how Thilde handles all of this – to be able to write excellent historical fiction, whilst weaving in mythology (and very much stamping it with her own ideas), expanding on that mythology with threads that have been moving from the start and make sense, whilst pulling all of the characters to meaningful, emotional, satisfactory conclusions is incredible. Thilde Kold Holdt has surpassed the norns and storyteller Ragnar in her own saga with her masterful weaving of intricate threads of fate over converging storylines.

What felt especially satisfying was these threads being tied up for the characters we have come to hold dear over the books. Although Einer and Hilda were probably the two main characters in the end, each character arc held a lot of meaning and the one that stuck with me the most was actually Finn; a character I didn’t even like in Northern Wrath.

In all good books, there is a quality that you can’t tangibly explain in terms of writing style, structure, pacing, plot devices (all of which are brilliantly done here but not particularly exciting to read about in a review). Slaughtered Gods is one of those books, as are Northern Wrath and Shackled Fates. It’s a vibe, or a feeling where things just feel authentic. Where everything is consistent and you’re immersed. Where it feels real and you forget somebody has created this story because they put so much thought and care into making you feel spellbound. The author has captured a time period in Scandinavia when belief systems were changing and people were fighting for and against those beliefs. She’s captured the old magic and the way of life of the people and their world view. She’s done justice to Norse mythology, being really inventive in putting her own slant on the sagas without changing everything completely.

You know that the author knows a lot of genuine and researched facts about Norse culture, history and mythology and you feel relaxed reading because you know she is able to put that information into practice into a living and believable world. And of course, when it comes to creative licence, she excels there too…

…Ragnarök can’t be written in a few pages in a series like this, and you’ll probably be pleased to know that the events of Ragnarök fill roughly the final half of the book. Thilde’s depiction of the Gods shines and it was particularly entertaining to witness their reaction to their impending doom and the way in which Loki and the Alfather are scheming to the end.

One of the main themes is each character’s view of who they are, who they have become and the legacy they will leave – something especially poignant given the Norse preoccupation with legacy. “Cattle die, kinsmen die….”

I enjoyed Finn’s search for and struggles to earn a glorious death, a life spent travelling towards an end in a different way he had ever imagined. The contrast of Einer and Hilda fighting on opposite sides at Ragnarök – Hilda’s attempts to gain favour from the Gods and cement the identity she’s always held; Einer’s to subvert the attachment to his Gods that had been his identity for his life. Tyra forging her own path and influence from the shadows of Glumbruck’s guidance and of Ragnar, so important to the story but searching for his own explanations about who he even is now.

There is a melancholy, bittersweet feel on finishing the story which mirrors the way I felt on ending Genevieve Gornichec’s The Witch’s Heart and the aftermath of Ragnarök. Partly due to a sadness at the story coming to a close, but mostly here because the characters we have grown to love or be intrigued by (not just POV characters) over three books are in many cases no longer around. Thilde really captures that feeling of a contrast between a raging battle and the almost perverse serenity that follows such scale of death and destruction.

I enjoyed the POV chapters of Höd and of Odin’s raven Munnin after the final battle which added an extra dimension and perspective – and the closing chapter of the enduring Yggdrasil.

I hope I’ve managed to avoid any spoilers whilst still giving you a flavour of what’s in store and how much there is to love in this final instalment. My favourite ever completed series.

If you’ve read the first two books, you will be enthralled (without the inconvenience of being sacrificed on the funeral pyre) by the level of brilliance that has gone into completing this saga. It’s a marvel. If you haven’t, what are you doing? Go and buy Northern Wrath now!!

My thanks must go to Solaris, Jess Gofton and Thilde Kold Holdt for giving me the opportunity to read this and the preceding two books. I cannot stress enough how books like these make being a reviewer a real honour at times. You can be sure that I love the series so much that any special editions released in future I will be preordering at the first opportunity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: