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“The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, but now giants are seen, the stones weep blood, and giant wyrms are stirring. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. For if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust….

…and it can never be made whole again.

Title: Malice

Series: The Faithful and the Fallen – Book 1

Author: John Gwynne

Page Count: 656

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 5.0/5.0

Date Read: April 10th, 2021 (Re-read June 2nd, 2022)

I felt that the world building and character development performed by John Gwynne in this story was just amazing. To be honest this was one of the largest novels I’ve ever read. But with that being said, it never really felt like it was a long slog for me. Speaking of the character development, there were a lot of characters with different points of view for each chapter of the book. That took some getting used to for my own reading preference. With in the first couple hundred pages though I began to get the characters straight and was able to follow the story better. If you attempt to read this for the first time, I would keep that in mind and that this book really is setting up the rest of the series. Not to say this book doesn’t have it’s own action sequences to keep a reader interested, because it does!

This story certainly has a very medieval feel as the world evolves with the presence of warriors from several races and regions taking part in a battle of good versus evil. We even see some more powerful beings getting involved trying to tip the scales in their favor or try to keep things balanced along the way.

I am not a huge fan of long drawn out coming of age stories beginning with a character as a child. However, this one did keep my interest enough during those phases of the character development where I never had that feeling of it dragging on.

This story certainly meets the Fantasy genre criteria. I also had moments of mystery, thriller, action and adventure along the way.

I want to point out some of my favorite characters and moments from this book. I will always try to keep the beginning of my reviews as general and spoiler free as I can. But then I also want to give some specifics in the second half here for others to see that want to.

First of all I love the relationship between Corban and his sister Cywen at the beginning of this series. Cywen is the older sibling and tends to be very protective of her younger brother as he finds himself in this vast world. Then as the story progresses and Corban finds himself getting into more trouble as well as exploring more of the world around his area we are introduced to Storm which of course this is a huge part of the attachment I have to this series overall and not just this first book.

Another great relationship introduced and being developed in Malice is that of Nathair and Veradis. The way these two characters are introduced and then experience things together is strong! Nathair is just beginning to learn that his role in this world is going to play a major part of things to come. At the same time Veradis has come of age and given the chance to become Nathair’s First Sword and more than proves he is a strong warrior and man.

Lastly, I’ll mention one of my favorite characters in this story and that is Camlin. The development of Camlin in this story is just amazing. The way he struggles to find out who he is and what he wants in this world just amaze me. As things change for him and around him, it’s great the way the author pauses and lets Camlin look back at the moments that ultimate have shaped him good or bad.

Though my original rating for this book was 5/5 on Goodreads, I would probably change that to a 4/5 or 4.5/5 simply because I did love this book, but the ones to follow just blew me away and truly earned their 5/5 ratings and this book isn’t on the same level as the rest of the series. Don’t get me wrong it was still an amazing work in itself but stacked next to Valour, Ruin and Wrath (yet to be read/determined) it’s just slightly less brilliant to me.

If you’d like to dive into the Faithful and the Fallen with book one, Malice, click

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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