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Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen, 1) Paperback – December 3, 2013
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"Influenced by Gemmell's Rigante and George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones ... Hell of a debut."―Conn Iggulden
"Middle Earth-ish extravaganza with all the usual thrills, chills, spills and frills ... there's plenty of action."―Kirkus
"Three-dimensional characters, a gripping plot, and a world that became real to me ... this is the type of fantasy I love to read and I truly can't wait to read the next volume in The Faith and the Fallen!"―Fantasy Book Critic
"John Gwynne hits all the right spots in his epic tale of good vs evil . . . there's a lot of pleasure to be had in this debut novel; Gwynne is definitely one to watch."―SFX
"Warring clans, sleeping giants, Banished Lands and omens and portents ... a strong contender for 'if you like Game of Thrones, why not try this?' award."―Independent
About the Author
- Publisher : Orbit (December 3, 2013)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 656 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316399736
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316399739
- Item Weight : 1.53 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.95 x 1.85 x 9.15 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #28,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Now, with that out of the way, I will continue to read the series because I like the characters and I knew in general, or at least hoped I knew how it was going to end..the journey is the goal in this instance. It is a testament to the author's ability to engage me as a reader and make me want to follow the journey, EVEN THOUGH I KNOW HOW IT ENDS! grrrr
Was it perfect? nope. Was it worth the read? yes! I found some of the tried and true fantasy tropes still alive and well in this novel, however, let me just say..nothing is new under the sun. How the author chooses to craft these tropes into something, if not entirely original is still engaging enough to turn the page..here I believe Gywnne did excellent work.
I enjoyed the cast of characters and while not as fleshed out as I typically like, I'm thinking the remaining books should do that and I am willing to give the next one a whirl.
It's always a mission of mine to find new authors to read. Whether they are indie authors or names I just haven't heard of before...then I stalk them. Okay, I don't stalk them, but I follow what they are writing and will continue to read their works, as long as they stay good. By putting together a well crafted, what I believe is a first novel, Gywnne has joined that list I'm happy to say.
The only issue i have with these books are some choppy action sequences, a few two dimensional characters (hoping this changes). Well done...and please please fix that darn excerpt at the end of book 1.
Most of the critical reviews stated that the book was filled with the usual tropes, that the story lacked originality and many of the story lines were contrived. To them I say so what. Aren't most novels in this genre?
Granted there were many things here we have seen before, but I felt there was plenty of originality and each character's POV was well thought out and well written. It was a novel I felt familiar with from the start and it didn't take long to settle right in to the narrative.
The only negatives I found were a lack of world building and an underdeveloped magic system, although the story line does hint at more to the magic in future books. Also, based on the fact that I see there are four books, I'm confident the author will add to the world building.
I plan on purchasing the next book immediately and I am looking forward to moving through the series quickly. I would highly recommend this book to someone looking for an enjoyable new series to start.
It follows 5 characters one good, two very bad and two who you have no idea what side they are on. Then adds a sixth pov character about 40 chapters in.
Corbin is the coming of age character and an easy one to route for.
Kestrel is a bit of an outcast and a classic revenge based character.
Envis, is your standard I hate this guy scum bag that you can't wait to see die.
Corbin's sister helps move the plot and gives the gals a routing interest.
Vendril is your beserker who doesn't know how good he is with fighting and serves a lord he thinks is doing right, but there is some doubts.
Finally Nathair a Julius Caesar type Greek tragedy hero......
All likable in there own way, well if you like routing for evil. I loved the book highly recommend thou a few instances it will piss you off!
Top reviews from other countries
Boy was I glad I stuck in there, finally after a few weeks of reading and wondering why I was wasting my time, BOOM everything begins to come together in a masterful blend of action, heart break and understanding of John Gwynne's vision for this series. You gradually find yourself getting a feeling of building tension when suddenly the plot line suddenly comes together in a rushing realization of great story telling. At this point I couldn't put the book down, so many betrayals, unexpected deaths and alliances, and gory action kept me engulfed where I read the final 40% of the book in about 3 days.
By the end I felt an attachment to the main protagonists, and sympathy for the blind loyalty that some of the characters had for their masters, competently unaware of their evil. I enjoyed the transition Corban has into adulthood, and Veradis' coming to understand he's going to be playing a big part in the events of his prince - finally the unexpected two or three pages that stole the entire show from nowhere with Gar and Nathair's bodyguards.
I've read a lot of fantasy books in my time, by damn the second half of this book was right up there with the best. ABSOLUTLEY worth a read.
The book moves between different character PoVs, which is fairly common these days, but I found some of the characters to be indistinguishable. For the first third of the book, if the PoV was Camlin, Kastell or Veradis I struggled to remember who he was or what he had been doing. This did start to improve around the halfway mark, but it is quite a slog at times to remember the events preceding this chapter.
The bulk of the book, however, follows Corban, a young blacksmith's son hoping to become a warrior some day, but is stuck working his da's forge, helping stablemaster Gar or apprenticing to healer Brina. His development over the book is well told, he doesn't suddenly become a master swordsman but at the same time we don't have to sit through chapter after chapter of him learning sword forms (Rand al Thor could learn a lot from Corban!).
Along the way, Corban has also become friends with a wild wolven (giant wolves hunted near extinction), whom he raised from a pup. Yes, exactly like the Stark children in GoT. Leave it.
The political intrigue and manoeuvring throughout the book is great as events seeming to be based on one king/queen's ambitions actually turn out to be based on another's treachery.
The battle scenes are well told and believable without the main characters always escaping unscathed.
The book finished with a number of deceptions uncovered and the main group of characters fleeing for their lives, with more secrets to be uncovered.
On the plus side, the author has a way with words that engages and makes the reader want to complete the series. Corban's progress is a bit erratic, though, and there came a point where I seriously contemplated stopping reading when a particular line of development was simply cast aside. And most of the characters start to feel like facets of a primary character (even the bad guys), which is probably inevitable when so many people are being characterised.
The series is a good read, but no romp. For the nature of the plot, this should never have exceeded three volumes, and the amount of different perspectives tended to drag things out almost to the point where the reader began to wonder when a particular episode would finally finish and a new start.
It is boderline whether I would recommend this book/series. It has some good twists, and the author executes a few good RR Martin moments that don't feel too contrived, but this needs to be weighed against the sheer effort required to get to the end of four heavy volumes.
John Gwynne what have you done?! Malice was just FREAKING amazing! I can honestly say I loved and devoured every bit of it, so much so that I'm having a hard time forming words - maybe emojis would better express how I felt!
😁😁 😱😱 🙈🙈 😭😭 - these are all the stages I went through whilst reading!
The book starts off a bit slow, there is a lot of world building and a lot of character development, and there had to be really because there are a lot of characters to set up, a lot of POV's to get into. This didn't put me off at all though, it was all really interesting, both the characters and the world. It just highlighted what I love about high fantasy, you get fully immersed into this world. You feel like you're apart of it all, you're there with the characters. Strange to say but it felt like being right at home!
A few characters I really liked were Corban - his story of personal growth was something I really loved. His sister Cywen was also cool - being female she was pretty restricted in her role within the castle but she still found ways to train and defend herself and she had a lot of bravery within her. Gar - the crippled stablemaster was amazing and his identity kept hooked, but I won't say too much about him. Brina (the witch!) was really amusing, as was her crow Craf! Kastell - the giant killer was also a favourite.
Along with these characters there was also monsters! Great big huge snakes called White Wryms, an army of giant ants and various clans of giants. Not to mention my favourite the huge wolven. Oh and a magical cauldron!
I never mention too much about the plot because I think it's best to discover it all for yourself. I will say though that there is a really exciting and something quite unique about this plot. Essentially there is a war between gods, between good and evil yes, but trust me the events in this book are more complicated and the key thing to remember is, it all depends on 'whose side you're on'. Intriguing, right?
There is also the thirst for power, the rivalries between kings and queens, and betrayals galore. You know any book I love is going to have amazing violent battles, and this one has them in plenty. Towards the end these battles were literally non stop! So much happened.
I'd say Malice has elements of both Wheel of Time and Game of Thrones, and I praise Gwynne for having this well crafted book as his debut. Bring on the sequel Valour! ⚔️
This initial book in terms of pacing is actually fairly slow, however it sets the ground for an amazing adventure that speeds up massively and by book 4 you will be hard to tear your eyes away. However what it does mean is the initial part of this book can be a bit slow and I imagine people giving up part way though, but keep at it. Similarly it has gone down the Game of Thrones route with multiple POV’s. This also makes it somewhat hard combined with the initial slow pacing of the book to get into, but rewards you with dividends by the end.
The book and series keeps to the theme of good vs evil, something done a million times in the genre, but as the books and series evolve, the series gets darker and the series more complex with multiple strands, but amazingly still easy to follow by that stage.
The characters, more so the primary ones tend to fall easily on the side of good or bad, however there are a few who fall within the grey area and as a result keeps things more interesting. By the end of book 4 these characters have grown amazingly and some are the most memorable characters I have read to date and even within this book we see them grow substantially. Heck by the end of the series I think I was weeping over some characters. I also love the ladies of this book, unlike many others the ladies in this book are just as baddass as the guys. In some series women tend to come off worse but no so here.
The world itself is rich and vibrant with details explained well enough without going over the top (AKA Wheel of time). You can believe it’s a real and dynamic world with the map giving an idea of the topology. The animals the roam the place and form bond with the people add a further depth and some relationships are detailed extremely well.
Something also well done it the battle scenes. They are not perfect, but they are written very well, in particular the single person duals. Many authors tend to struggle with battles, but not so here, fights are depicted very well and I get absorbed enough that I feel I am a bystander at spots (or maby have an OTT imagination more likely!)
In all this are a great book and just the initial step in an amazing series. This initial book I give a 4/5, just due to the slower nature, but the series as a whole is easily a 5, it’s not perfect, but then what book / series is. The characters are memorable, the world well detailed and scenes depicted amazingly well. Cant wait to see what series John Gwynee writes next.