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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book.
I don't understand the 3 star reviews, I've been reading fantasy for years and Gwynne's a marvellous addition to the fold.
I won't give any of the story away but I love his character development, coupled with the fact he's not afraid to let done of them die. All the while letting us see each player's view point in the narrative
I'm only unset that I don't know...
Published 10 months ago by Paul Kilmurray

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Let's see where this goes from here...
Look at the inner sleeve photo; the author's wearing a blouse, and is sitting on a throne with two big dogs at his feet; he's living the fantasy man!
Credit to him for putting pen to paper. I like reading fantasy books and this was better than most. I thought the story lines were pretty good but there was something about the writing style I felt lacking but can't put...
Published 17 days ago by Starling


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book., 24 April 2014
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I don't understand the 3 star reviews, I've been reading fantasy for years and Gwynne's a marvellous addition to the fold.
I won't give any of the story away but I love his character development, coupled with the fact he's not afraid to let done of them die. All the while letting us see each player's view point in the narrative
I'm only unset that I don't know when the next book is due to arrive!
It's been a pleasure getting to this point though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Battle in the banished lands, 24 Nov. 2014
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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Second volume in the series of fantasy novels entitled 'The Faithful and the Fallen.'

First volume was Malice: Book One of The Faithful and the Fallen (Faithful & the Fallen 1). This one is absolutely not a jumping on point, as there's nothing to bring people up to speed. So new readers should start with that.

Those who have read it, read on.

This book runs for six hundred and forty eight pages. It is divided into one hundred and twenty chapters. There are several viewpoint characters, but it tells you at the start of each chapter which one is the focus.

There's a cast of characters at the front and a map of the lands in which the story takes place.

Picking up from where book one ended, this volume begins with Corban and various others fleeing the fall of Dun Carreg. They are only one plot strand. As the narrative jumps over the land keeping up with various other warriors as well.

There are battles aplenty. Character moments galore. Bigger things going on. And since this is not the end of the story, everything finishes with quite a game changing event.

It's a bit tricky to get into at first. Corban was by far the most interesting character in book one, but he doesn't have as big a share of the narrative as he did there in this one. If it's been a while since you read that you might take a while to get back into things here. But whereas his plot strand was by far the most interesting in book one, that's not the case here. Because the other storylines do start to grab just as much. You can't say too much about these without spoilers, although new character Lykos, a pirate king, does grab the attention. He's not a good man at all. But he's a memorable creation.

There is a point, roughly about a third of the way in, when this does all click and really starts to grab. Not least thanks to the plotline involving one particular character who has to go down a potentially very dark path. This offers some excellent moral food for thought.

As with all good second volumes, this does move things along nicely and make the stakes of the story even bigger. Plus it has an end which will leave you desperate to know what will happen next. So it does it's job.

A very satisfying read. Looking forward to book three.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Going From Strength To Strength, 9 Sept. 2014
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One of those rare cases where the sequel betters the original. Corban manages to escape the confines of typical farm boy hero-dom and gain some interesting and sympathetic development, allowing him to stand on better terms against the other more interesting members of the cast. The majority of the new additions are well-placed for an expanded worldview - though I have some issues with Coralen, who only appears to have been added so we can see her reciprocate romantic attention rather than adding very much new in her own right.

The story goes from strength to strength, with the plot thickening at every turn. The politicking is interesting without being over-deep, the battle scenes are sharp and effective, and the sheer variety in setting and events between the characters keep the narrative flowing even when everyone spends a lot of time trekking through the woods and chasing each other up and down mountainsides.

Only one real issue keeping Valour from five stars - unneccessary romance strikes again. Perhaps it's just because they're two of my favourites, but the unneccessary and blatant lead-ins for a romantic liasion between Veradis and Cywen ticked me off. They have no real reason to be quite so reactive to mention of one another after knowing each other for such a short time, and while I can see WHY this relationship is useful plot-wise, I worry it might keep both of them from developing in a terribly interesting manner if this becomes their sole forward movement. Likewise, Coralen doesn't get much time to set herself up before pre-romantic liasons with Corban begin, and I feel she's a little bit saboutaged by not having much of a life of her own beyond this bugeoning romance and her feelings towards her longer-established and much more interesting brothers.

These are only minor nitpicks, though, and Gwynne has already proved himself of a mighty calibre as a writer, so perhaps I shall be eating my words upon the next installment. Needless to say I will be foaming at the mouth until it arrives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great next step in the series, 7 May 2014
By 
L. Bailey (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valour: Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen (Faithful & the Fallen 2) (Hardcover)
4.5 stars again: Another good read and a great second instalment to the series. Exciting to see that John Gwynne can match the pace and quality of his debut, and he will continue to be one to watch in the fantasy world.

(Review has some spoilers - look out for --!SPOILER!-- and skip that paragraph if you haven't read it yet!)

Corban is on the run with a mixed band of survivors, having just escaped a maelstrom of shocking betrayals and power plays at Dun Carreg, and begins to deal with a fate he can no longer hide from; Cywen lives life on the edge behind enemy lines, and relies on wit & luck to keep her head; Evnis is carried along by the plan he set in motion, and nervously tries not to get swept up by escalating events; Maquin is steadily being consumed by shame & a thirst for revenge, and battles to stop this taking control; Nathair proves a terrifying blend of zeal, ruthlessness and ignorance as he pushes forward with his misguided mission; Veradis finds his loyalty challenged by the company he keeps and the decisions he is forced to make; and we meet Coralen, a feisty soul searching for truth & meaning in her life… sounding good yet?

The big strengths of John Gwynne’s style are all here in full force - naturally evolving situations, conflicts and characters - all a real joy to read, and so fresh in the genre! The politicking and shifty motivations of the villains will keep you guessing, and the earnest underdog nature of the heroes keeps you firmly rooting for their self-discovery and resolve to do what is right against terrible odds.

I really enjoyed the filling out of his world in this novel, and was glad, (and perhaps guiltily pleased to see my prediction validated), that we see greater detail emerging on the side of the giants. The relationships and dynamics of that community were very well expressed, and as ever there is a good balance of mystery and revelation in character profiles & plot as the story progresses.

The conflict at the centre of the narrative expands very organically, and it is a very skilful example of how to get the reader to authentically experience the characters’ feelings: the rising sense of unease, of being caught up in events much larger than any would have guessed, and the gradual erosion of things that seemed solid and dependable. It’s brilliantly done step by step, and I prefer this approach to the sudden, climactic meteor-strike of a threat you often see in today’s narratives (especially in blockbuster movie scripts!)

You will stay hooked to the unfolding of the plot, waiting to see what happens when different parties collide and looking forward to seeing the consequences of big decisions made by the characters.

In short, really enjoyed this instalment and felt it was an appropriate mid-saga novel, with both a good cliff-hanger and genuine progress in the plot (unlike classic filler novels that don’t add anything to the overall story, and give false climaxes - e.g. some of the later novels in the Wheel of Time series).

Even though it’s a small part, Rath deserves a special mention. The build up to this character and his role in the story was fantastic, I loved hearing the giants talk about him and how they were so wary of his reputation. It was totally authentic and I couldn’t wait for him to turn up.

A couple of things that I wasn’t quite as keen on (feel like I have to do this, as the series deserves a proper review):

VIN THALUN

I can see how these sections are necessary to the plot and fill out the world, and they do provide a genuine source of threat and evil for the protagonists to fight against. However, I didn’t especially enjoy reading the chapters - the unpleasantness was a little off-tone for the rest of the novel, and the arcs were a bit too classic.

--!SPOILER!--
The fighting pits & control stone (think Aes Sedai collars or Harry Potter’s imperius curse) are well-trodden paths and it was clear which way things would go. It was the only part of the novel that felt a little contrived - wouldn’t be worth mentioning in a review for something else, but John Gwynne seems to me to be capable of more originality. Slavery with forced fighting & being made to aid the bad guys are devices for conflict, as it prevents characters from trying to make decisions - they are made for them. This is fairly clear by the resolution as the fighting pits are destroyed completely, Maquin escaping & proving himself still honourable, and the stone is destroyed so the queen can right the wrongs & now has a motive for action. I am definitely nit-picking here, as it all works and is told in a much more engaging and enjoyable way than many other examples, but I believe John Gwynne is capable of a lot more. (If you read this, John, sorry I’m being an idiot! You’ve raised my standards for the series!)
--!SPOILER!--

CORBAN & GWENITH (& Gar I suppose)

These characters are brilliant, and the author is excellent at making classic tropes stand out from the crowd & feel fresh and interesting again - so any comments here are again just because John Gwynne has set his own bar so high! I felt frustrated with all three characters for different reasons:

CORBAN never asks the one question that would be on the very tip of my tongue in this story (unless I missed it or am remembering it wrong): WHY is this happening to me? Why am I chosen? - I just can’t believe he wouldn’t ask that of Gar & Gwenith, or the others who turn up later - I don’t think he even asks it of himself in his internal monologues. This is the only thing that I felt let down by with Corban. If it’s being held back for the plot, the reveal didn’t have to come here, and could have been hyped up more if the question had been asked.

GWENITH & GAR were still great characters, I really like the less-is-more approach to their speech & actions, just makes them both feel very real; I like the way Gwenith’s desperate anxiety & solid resolve are communicated very subtly through her interactions and expressions, and the way Gar’s struggles with himself and his mission come through. However, I couldn’t help thinking that they was too easy on Corban. If they have lived in secrecy for that long, and had such self-control as to not spill the beans and to keep laying down their lives for Corban, it seems to me like they wouldn’t shy away from telling him what he needed to know. Their convictions carry them through their actions through the first novel, but then suddenly aren’t enough for them to tell Corban the hard truths, even if he doesn’t want to hear. I’m probably being unfair here.

--!SPOILER!--
I was sad to see Gwenith die at the end; I couldn’t shake the feeling of inevitability with this right the way through. It was sad, especially as she & Gar seemed to be getting on well & working through their grief together, but it also felt like it was made to happen rather than needed to happen. After so many lucky escapes & deft plans, it just seemed too careless of the team that she becomes Corban’s last line of defence. (Again, I am nit-picking, sorry…)
--!SPOILER!--

I also generally thought that more could have been done with Heb and the old magic woman (can’t remember her name and book not to hand! But you’ll know who I mean… is it Brina??) They were really nicely portrayed and I enjoyed their relationship, and their sideline relationship with Corban.

Anyway, that’s enough from me - it’s a great read, and The Faithful and the Fallen is shaping up to be a superb addition to the fantasy canon, indeed to fiction in general. Get it, read it, and love it.

FINAL THOUGHT (if you can be bothered!)

I’ve read some reviewers talking about cliches and familiar tropes in the story, and I just think it’s worth a comment - I feel the problem with a lot of writing is that it is only concerned with finding some kind of new angle or new idea all the time, perhaps due to shortening attention spans and a ‘gimme stuff’ consumer mentality to everything (think Netflix meeting demand with entire seasons of shows coming out in one go for the ‘binge watcher’!) which often leads to weird scenarios featuring characters the reader can’t relate to (personally, couldn’t cope with the Locke Lamora book. Writing was impenetrable and the concept wore thin pretty fast; just felt like Oliver all over again but without the fun or redeeming qualities).

On the other side, when familiar tropes are used in a bad way, it’s immediately apparent and dull to read - but the reason these things are classic in the first place is because they are brilliant ideas that have been told fantastically well countless times. If the idea per se was boring, it would not have continued to exist post Ancient Greece.

John Gwynne goes back to what makes a story actually any good in the first place, which is the writing. His characters feel real, the plot unfolds in an authentic way, and the prose is just enjoyable to read. If you want a counter-example, I thought that the David Eddings series was really poor: dull writing and dull, re-used ideas - and yet this is regarded by some as a classic in the genre.

Anyway, that’s just my 2p (or 2 cents if you’re across the pond). Sorry for going on - can’t wait for the next book in the series - buy Valour and support great new writing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Reading Pleasure with a book thick enough to bludgeon those who disturb you., 18 April 2014
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Valour: Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen (Faithful & the Fallen 2) (Hardcover)
I love good solid fantasy and to be honest whilst recent years seems to have been more an attack of the US, Britain hits back with author John Gwynne who shows that we can produce complex fantasy with talent to spare. The prose is sharp, the pace works wonderfully well and when added to a whole cast of complex character that bring not only the world in which they inhabit to life but bring their own thoughts and desires to the reader with space to spare.

All round, this series is building into one of favourites of the last few years and to have an author who can produce a second book of high quality in good time and schedule shows that this author has a bright future. Great stuff.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars simply wonderful, 19 April 2014
By 
Mr. William Crowther (stockton, england) - See all my reviews
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As good as the first book if not better if book number three is even halfasgood as this ill be well served
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4.0 out of 5 stars Mr Gwynne, sort Corban out Please!!, 21 Aug. 2014
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This is the second book in the series, it's as difficult to put down as the first and we are introduced to more gripping characters. One of our Heroes, Corban continues to underperform and shows no justification as to why he is hailed (by some) as a saviour. Please Mr Gwynne let the boy kick some ass. He's trained by a sword genius, and yet gets easily captured. People are giving their lives for him, but I cant for the life of me see what he's doing to deserve their fervour. So just a four star. Let's hope Corban lives up to his build up soon. I don't want a repeat of the Eragon series, Christopher Paolini's four LOOOOONG Novels about an uninspiring flop of a hero.
Still it's a beautifully descriptive and well written novel. I think John Gwynn could make the phone directory look like a great book but with a vast list of characters. Well worth your time this one, but read Malice first!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BRILLIANT!!!, 6 Jun. 2014
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Like the first book , took me to place from Which I did not want to return.
I am now one of the faithful who will read anything John Gwynne writes.
If he can better the first two books , then he is Elyon to my eyes!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 24 April 2014
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The first book malice was good, this is another level, how long for the next one? You really get to know who everyone is and which side they are on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes Celtic and Jewish myths and makes an original and compelling world out of them, 24 April 2014
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This review is from: Valour: Book Two of The Faithful and the Fallen (Faithful & the Fallen 2) (Hardcover)
Building and improving on the first book this sequel continues to weave something new out of ideas taken from Celtic myth and the Jewish Talmud and Torah. As in the first book there is one regrettable sentence which is a cliche out of a bad Hollywood action movie, but the rest is excellent.
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