Review: Malice by John Gwynne

My Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

A few facts about Malice:

  • Title: Malice
  • Author: John Gwynne
  • Series: The Faithful and The Fallen (Book One)
  • Publisher: Tor
  • Pages: 672

I read Malice in paperback form, but really wish I had it in hardcover.


A black sun is rising … 

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors under King Brenin’s rule, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon. Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. 

The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed shields in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms. Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. 

High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Some are skeptical, fighting their own border skirmishes against pirates and giants. But prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust. 



Malice is book one in The Faithful and the Fallen series, and for some reason unknown to me there are still so many fantasy fans yet to read this book. My own Goodreads has twenty GR friends with this marked as ‘to be read’. 

PEOPLE, READ THIS BOOK! It is amazing, and you will not be disappointed.  

Now, Im not sure I am going to say much different to what many have already said, and by far better reviewers but one cannot simply rate this book and leave it without its due praise.

“I shall stay and tell my tale, hope that it may serve some purpose, that eyes shall see it and learn, that the future will not repeat the mistakes of the past. That is my prayer, but what use is prayer to a god that has abandoned all things . . .” 

I can safely say that this book lives up too, and far exceeds all recommendations to read it.

Gwynne is a tremendous writer with his beautiful and effective prose. I found Gwynne’s writing to be excellent if I’m honest. Each description came to life, the world or the scene, blooming in my mind. It was so immersive and real that time just passes you by without even realising. 

To say John Gwynne does anything less than transport you to a breathtaking fantasy world and take you on the journey of a life time is to do it an injustice.

The world that Gwynne has built is fascinating, and has considerable detail. The lore, cultures and religion were all entwined with character views and interactions, and you can see that this world was well thought out. It is incredibly easy to lose yourself in The Banished Lands.

I also really like it when an author distinguishes internal thought by way of italics. It just pleases me.

Gwynne deals more in character depth and development initially in this book, and thus sets a slower pace, but it is still an addicting and exciting read. It isn’t boring at all, or at least I didn’t find it to be, and this is done by the injection of small and frequent action sequences, such as a fight or a wolven encounter, into each POVs story. Honestly, I am struggling to find anything I don’t like about this book. What a debut!

I enjoyed the way in which Gwynne moved forward his timeline too, he smoothly intermingled relevant facts of previous movements/encounters/character actions without overwhelming you with long winded explanation. He points out through a characters internal thoughts a few key conversation snippets without detailing on and on about them walking to a ship, getting on said ship, setting off and so on. So, you know, no unnecessary filler material.

This is a classic tale of Good Vs Evil, though do not mistake this as a simple plot. It isn’t. The plot is filled with intrigue from the get go, it is brimming with dangerous encounters, battles, jaw dropping revelations and gutting betrayals, all of which are written in stunning detail. You will not be bored.

I genuinely don’t know where to start when talking about the characters of this book, there are several of them, and we get a look at all of them. Even the smaller, seemingly less important characters carry with them a massive punch and play an important role in this book. I read this with several people through a buddy read and something I said to them was that I loved the characters more because of the people that surrounded them. Gwynne has written a whole host of characters who all have a massive input in this debut.

Put simply, Gwynne makes use of numerous characters to establish and advance the plot, and though some follow the standard tropes, they are exciting and cleverly written, thoroughly developed, and utterly compelling. 

This book has made me care about the characters in a way no other writer has ever managed, and not just one or two of the lead characters. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. It has left me breathless, had me laughing out loud, scowling at the pages and damned near crying.  

Im pretty sure this is going to be one of my favourite series, and I am only on book one.

3 thoughts on “Review: Malice by John Gwynne

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Wrath by John Gwynne | _ The Book in Hand _

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