I've been putting off reading Malice by John Gwynne for the longest time :-s
I first started this book at the end of August 2015 and it took me 1 month shy of four years to pick it back up after putting it down after only a couple of chapters.
The main reasons for not picking this back up sooner were that it is 600+ pages and I couldn't find the audiobook anywhere (Audible only has the Italian versions and Scribd doesn't have anything from this author). So, I was extremely intimidated by it. There are a lot of characters and the first time I picked it up I didn't get to sit down and read for longer periods of time (the beginning of the school year is always a busy time), so I just couldn't get into the story.
During the last couple of months, some of the people I've started talking to on IG told me about how wonderful this series is and how much they enjoyed it and I became intrigued again.
Being on my summer break I thought this would be the perfect time to give it another try.
So, after this long and rambly introduction, let's get to the review (I'm not going to give a synopsis, if you click on the name of the book, you'll go to the Goodreads synopsis):
At first I had to take notes to keep track of all the characters that are introduced. You get different POVs and they also encounter other characters, so it can be a bit confusing and daunting at first. But by the time I got to about chapter 10 I got the hang of it :-)
I really had to adjust to the fact that I couldn't simply alternate between the audiobook and the physical copy. However, it didn't take very long for the story to really grab me. Sure, this story has some very classical fantasy elements: young boy destined to become 'more', good vs evil (based on angels vs demons), fighting for the throne, betrayal, alliances being formed … but they are executed well.
Because there are a lot of characters I'm not going to go into detail about all of them, but I do want to mention some of my favourite ones or ones that stood out to me:
Corban: His is one of the POVs we get in this story and through him we get to know a lot of other characters as well. At the beginning of the story he is 14 and I liked how we got to see him grow and change from this scared boy into a more courageous youth trying to find his path/place in life. Even in this first book we already find out that there's more to him than meets the eye.
I'm looking forward to seeing his story progress and develop.
Cywen: She's Corbans sister (we also get her POV) and she's a feisty one. She's a bit older than Corban and she hates the fact that girls aren't allowed to fight. So she tries to stand her ground as much as possible by SPOILER (select the text if you want to read the spoiler.) learning how to throw knives from her mother. She becomes extremely good at this, which is proven throughout the story a couple of times.
Edana: She's the daughter of King Brenin and Queen Alona. She doesn't have her own POV, but we get to know her story through Corban and Cywens POVs.
The princess befriends Cywen and Corban. Edana is a very down-to-earth character who doesn't look down her nose at others. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Gwynne has got in store for her.
Veradis: He is the second (I think) son of Lamar, Baron of Ripa. Veradis joins prince Nathairs warband and he quickly becomes his trusted 'bodyguard'. Veradis is sometimes a little naïve and he blindly believes everything Nathair says or does. He would give his life to protect the prince without a second thought.
He has his own POV and through him we get to know prince Nathair: At first this was a character I really liked. He's young, charismatic and he has refreshing ideas about battle and warfare. These ideas often go against what his father - King Aquilus - thinks and believes. But at some point in the story something happens which causes him to change completely and I don't trust him anymore. There's a weird atmosphere about him. (Thinking of him not as a character but as someone real proves what a well-written character he is.)
Gar: He is one of my absolute favourite characters of this first book. He is Corbans fathers stablemaster who is like a second father to Corban and Cywen. He's the one who teaches Corban how to use a sword. As with Corban there is much more than meets the eye with Gar, because we still don't know a whole lot about him.
Brina: She's King Brenins healer. Because of a bet, Corban has a sort of debt to pay and he becomes her 'apprentice'. Damn, this is a cranky old woman, but she's also a very fun character. I don't know who she reminds me of from other fantasy stories, but I like this sort of character a lot.
SPOILER: (about the characters in general) it's best not to get too attached to the characters, because from the first book some of the ones I was rooting for get killed off :-(
There is already some worldbuilding, because we have different kingdoms ruled by different monarchs, but I'm hoping to see a lot more of it in the following books.
Another intriguing aspect of the story is the appearance of giants. They don't play a huge part yet, but they do determine some things already.
I'm very happy that I decided to give it another try and I'll be definitely picking up the next one soon.
Have you read this or any other books in the Faithful and the Fallen series? Let me know in the comments.
Bye for now