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Valor (Faithful and the Fallen) Paperback – July 22, 2014
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Corban flees his homeland searching for peace, but he soon discovers that there is no haven in the west as the agents of Rhin and roaming bands of giants hound his every step.
Veradis leaves the battleground and rushes to his King's side. But he has witnessed both combat and betrayal and his duty weighs heavily upon him.
Maquin seeks only revenge, but pirate slavers and the brutal world of pit-fighting stand in his way.
Nathair becomes embroiled in the wars of the west as Queen Rhin marches against King Owain. The need to find the cauldron of the giants drives him on.
Sides are chosen and oaths will be fulfilled or broken in a land where hell has broken loose.
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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 (July 22, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 688 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0316399744
- ISBN-13 : 978-0316399746
- Item Weight : 1.85 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 2.1 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #47,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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There were several new characters introduced that quickly became integral to the story and quick favorites of mine. There were also characters that were secondary or lightly introduced in book one that became fully fleshed out in this book. Much like the first book, there were also characters who wont make to Ruin, book 3. To avoid any spoilers, I'll just leave it at that. John Gwynne really does a great job breathing life into his characters and making you root for them or hope they find the pointy end of a weapon soon.
The story moves along really well and I like the pacing of how big reveals were introduced and then handled by the characters. With as many characters as there are in this story, I think he does a good job with making sure all have arcs that are addressed. Some get more attention than others, of course, but none seemed to stay flat that were important to the story. I'm stopping my review here because I just finished Valor and I want to start reading Ruin right away. I've found this to be a fun and engaging series.
This one exceeded my expectations so much that I devoured this in a single day. 5 stars for that!
The action was more dense, there was less preparations and introductions and more doing. A lot happened, people had room to grow and face hard truths and facts. Many die and there are new views we follow. Personally, I feel that I enjoy veradis the most and he is the most interesting person
I can’t say there was a really boring hero, just a bit annoying to change perspective whenever something important happens.
I also need to say that I admire what has been done with the black star, his delusion is … at least funny. So much that you pity the guy
What sets this book apart is the high quality of the writing, the vocabulary, is all gives you a very good impression. That and the depth of the story involving so many characters.
I have a lot of questions, mainly about what special is there about the 2 champions and about the earth power which is criminally neglected. I guess the following installments will explain a lot.
On my way to start the next one !!
It's not so often that I love a sequel more than the original book in a series.
Valor picks up where Malice ends, and it wastes no time capitalizing on all the setup Malice did for readers. Seriously. I appreciate Malice even more now because it paved the way for me to be head-over-heels invested in each of these characters. It took very little recap before I was fully immersed back in The Banished Lands.
The pacing and action were full speed ahead in this book. Gwynne obviously excels in his action scenes, but even the political scenes had me on edge. The chapters flew by in quick spurts, averaging 5 minutes each, which makes the pacing seem even quicker. I don't quite know how I flew through 120 of them. I even managed to keep track of (and remain interested in!) almost all the points of view. The characters are so loveable. Especially the pet characters. Storm, Craf, Fech, Buddai, Shield..they are my lovies, all of them. I could just squish them yess they soooo cute my lil babies, yes they are...
I will say, there is only one POV I'm not bought into yet. His perspective didn't really entwine with the grand story at play and I only hope to see how he better fits into the God-War in future books (or gets killed off for all I care). More broadly speaking, there were some scenes that, while entertaining, seemed to be filler in the story. Maybe I will be proven wrong, but they just didn't seem to progress the story much at all. And while I already mentioned that I loved the quick pacing of chapters, I dealt with some whiplash constantly bouncing from story to story. I don't mind the number of POVs, I think I just prefer a more grouped approach to POV cycling.
I almost gave it a full five stars. I typed it out. I wanted it badly. But I couldn't. It didn't quite meet the "ruin me to the point of sobbing on the floor from a sudden existential crisis" requirements. Nevertheless, I'm left feeling SO excited to move forward in the story. I'm sure I will be ruined soon. ;)
The march continues for conquering new territories and no king is safe. Even when the conquest is seemingly done, who will be the absolute victor?, as we have too many in pursuit of the ultimate crown.
This story also deals with revelations for many and discovering just who's side they're fighting for, but I'm still hoping for some to change sides in future books, but that doesn't always happen. This series has so many characters that are likable; primary, secondary, and even the bad guys have ones that are hopefully redeemable, but we see that no one's life is secure, making the experience unpredictable, right down to the nail biting moments.
Enough said, if you've started this series, then you've either finished it, or are reading it. If you haven't started it, now would be a good time.
Top reviews from other countries
Although I didn’t count them, I’m sure this second book introduces more point of view characters than the first. Almost all of the events we witness, however, are told through the eyes of characters we met in Malice. With so many characters and subplots, there’s a danger of developing favourite characters and wanting to skip chapters to focus on their subplots. Not a chance! Every chapter moves the overarching story forward, and every viewpoint character has an interesting story of their own to tell. Coming in at a stonking 673 pages (according to Amazon), this is quite a feat!
With so much going on, I’d have to write an essay to cover the action. Suffice to say, Corban does some more growing up and is settling into the role he has been prepared for. I was pleased, and relieved, to read that Veradis no longer sees his friend—Nathiar—through rose-tinted spectacles.
But there is so, so much more and trying to explain everything that’s going on would be a disservice to John Gwynne’s storytelling. Quite simply, if you enjoyed Malice, you’ll love Valour. And if that isn’t enough, Valour, unlike Malice, comes with not one but two talking crows!
But then things change. Before I realised what was happening, I was drawn in, engaged, invested and unable to put this book, or the subsequent 3, down until I had finished them all. What John manages to do so incredibly well is blur the lines. It isn’t classic good v evil. There’s more to it and the nuances of each fleshed out character and the beliefs they hold make sure that each person reading the series will have a different opinion on what is right and wrong.
Jaw to floor action scenes are delivered at pace and what some may consider “book finishers” or “end points” crop up in the most unexpected places. Skills of characters, particularly the main protagonist, Corban, feel earned in an incredibly authentic way. The world building is extremely well done with just the right amount of depth without feeling like you are reading the wiki page for one particular tree.
I went into this book with no expectations and was left feeling incredibly grateful that I got to experience this work. Fans of Robin Hobb, fantasy in general, epic worlds and true page turners will love this. It deserves its place on the shelf of “great fantasy reads” and watching (or reading) John grow in strength as an author through the series was an absolute joy.
Truth and Courage!
Valour is the second book in the Faithful And The Fallen series.
Following on directly from the events of the previous book Malice, after the bloody battle and betrayal at Dun Carreg Corban and a small band are on the run desperately heading for sanctuary but they have a long journey ahead and many foes at every turn.
Meanwhile left for dead Cywen fights to survive, whilst surrounded by the shattered remains of her home, this is made all the more difficult when High King Nathair and shadowy advisor Calidus finds out just who she is!
Not content with what he has and driven by what he feels is a manifest destiny High King Nathair allied to the manipulative Queen Rhin of Cambren sweeps forwards to claim all the Banished Lands under his banner, but can he trust the self serving Queen. All the while dark and horrible forces in the Otherworld wait scheming ready to be let lose on the world.
This is epic fantasy at it's very best and despite being a hefty near 700 pages long I tore through it, mainly because at times I literally couldn't put it down! John Gwynne does several things really well, firstly is characters flawed or heroic, he writes them incredibly well, each character feels real and you cannot help but become invested in them whether its because you want them to succeed or you want them to meet a short sharp end he makes you feel for them. Secondly is pacing with as many POV's as this story has there was always a danger that pacing would be all over the place, but not in this series, the chapters are relatively short and switches between POV's effortlessly. Thirdly, is the action, this man must of had some kind of training or at least knows his way around a sword, whether it's a pitched open battle reminiscent of the Roman legions against the Celts or a one on one Gladiator type it is as close to perfect as you can get (and I know my way around a fight or a battle) you get the feel of the power and sheer scope of the big battles, the chaos and the fear and yet he can switch it up to the individual terror of a forced one on one confrontation the dirty tactics, the doubt.... all is bone crunching and really realistic without being over the top, the adversary's feel the consequences of the fights which is another thing that other authors leave out. Lastly is John's ability to write animals, yes I meant animals the man knows what makes canines tick whether its Buddai loyal hound to Corban's family or Storm, Corban's Wolven companion I can honestly say I enjoy their parts of the story although on more than on occasion I have shouted out or punched the chair, but it doesn't stop with man's best friend, Horses (The magnificent Shield) and Ravens and Crows.. one particular scene with Fech the Raven comes to mind, and Craf the Crow was good for lighting the mood. I believe I read or saw somewhere that John Gwynne aspires to Tolkien, Cornwell and Gemmell as far as his writings goes, well I can as a massive fan of all three of these most esteemed writers say that The Faithful And The Fallen so far definitely deserves to be held up there alongside them. I am presently reading Ruin the third in the series and will move on directly to Wrath the last instalment. My opinion is if you like epic fantasy then you really cannot do much better,
Stylistically, everything is set up to hold that pace: short chapters, never wasting unnecessary time in a single POV, nearly always open with the character's name, placing the reader right at the forefront of the narrative. Broad strokes illustrate the backdrop, while familiar and repeated phrases give the fight scenes Homeric tones. Oh, and there's death, too. Lots of it. Nobody dies of old age in the Banished Lands, they all die with swords exploding through their bodies, ripping from shoulder to chest, or with limbs torn away in sprays of blood.
It's simply told, but not simplistic. Gwynne's flawed characters, those who have doubts about which side they are on, are still some of the most interesting - Veradis, Nathair, Camlin, the survival-forged Maquin. There's a great focus on friendship, teamwork, and honour. Malice suffered a little from a strange pacing between some POVs - months would pass in one chapter that split chapters from another POV covering only a week - and that hasn't changed much here, but the chapters fly past so quickly you hardly notice that.
If Ruin can keep up the pace, and add something fresh at the same time, then we're all set for what should be a real epic in Wrath.
John Gwynne does not do our main characters any favours. There was a death at the end of the first book that I honestly didn't think was a 'real' death but yeah it was. Very unexpected. And there are more in this book, some of whom I'd become very fond of. There are more female POV's in this book which is a good thing as the first book was very male dominated. Cywin was good in the first book but she really shone in this one, I think hers might have been my favourite one, a bit ahead of Corban and Maquin but not by too much. Corban does not get as much page time in this book but his is still probably the most common POV chapters and I really like where his character has gone. He's growing into himself and I like that it's taking time for him to adjust to what has happened and what is expected of him. All the other characters have progressed, except for maybe one, and we have a few more POV's than last time as I already mentioned. There are a few chapters from Nathair's mother, these get pretty brutal, and also from Coralen, Halion's half sister. There are also POV's from another giant and another warrior who I won't mention. My only small disappointment was Veralis. I loved his POV's in the first book, and still did here, I just felt his character hasn't progressed much and I'm still wondering when he is going to realise who's side he's actually on.
That's it about these books. There are prophecies about this god-war but they are already mostly revealed, I like that it hasn't been drawn out. The angels and demons are showing up more and the stakes really feel like they've escalated. There are a lot of battles in this book and use of the legionnaire type tactics by Nathair and Veralis compared to the Celtic warrior tactics are brutally shown and feels like the end of an era. The close bond between all the characters is both heart warming and heart breaking precisely because of how close they are it is even worse when something happens to them. As in the first review I mentioned it is a dark book, though not grim dark. Our heroes are proper heroes through all the things that happen to them. This is particularly relevant to Maquin's character, because he hits some lows before an almighty bittersweet high. You could see it coming but still, amazing.
Anyway this is shaping up to be one of the best series I've read in years and can't wait to start the third one.