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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Malice' by John Gwynne
Malice is the debut novel of fantasy writer John Gwynne, and is the first book in his new series The Faithful and the Fallen. Despite being fantasy, the book has a Celtic, almost historical feel, with character and place names such as Dun Carreg, Cywen, Gwenith, Mordwyr, Dath etc., and with its use of dialect, such as `aye' and `bairn'. I actually really liked this: it...
Published 12 months ago by L M Hughes

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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great idea sadly wasted.
The idea here is brilliant and deserves much better than this book.

the problem is that the author seems convinced that we, his readers, are all idiots.
Basically, his idea is that there are two main protagonists and a prophesy for a Prince of good and a Prince of evil.
(I'm going to try not to give any actual spoilers, but he doesn't worry about that...
Published 8 months ago by Targle


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Malice' by John Gwynne, 16 Dec 2013
By 
L M Hughes (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
Malice is the debut novel of fantasy writer John Gwynne, and is the first book in his new series The Faithful and the Fallen. Despite being fantasy, the book has a Celtic, almost historical feel, with character and place names such as Dun Carreg, Cywen, Gwenith, Mordwyr, Dath etc., and with its use of dialect, such as `aye' and `bairn'. I actually really liked this: it creates atmosphere and helps when imagining both the setting and the character accents, and also makes the story feel more real. At the same time, however, the book also has a strangely dystopian feel, being set in desolate lands in an era following an apocalyptic event known as the Gods-War. It's an interesting combination.

I found Malice to be a little slow to begin with: there are times when it felt like I was reading every little detail of everything that happens, particularly to the children, and I felt that this made it a little bit repetitive. However, it picks up after a while, and by the end I wanted to start straight away on the next book (which unfortunately isn't available until next year). The characters are interesting as well as ambiguous, and the way the author switches between different points of viewcreates tension and pace very effectively, often reminding me of A Song of Ice and Fire in this respect.

Another aspect of the novel that I felt was reminiscent of GRRM was the characters themselves, several of whom are morally ambiguous. Yet most of them are likeable, or at the very least sympathetic, and it's really interesting to see them change, particularly those who are being subtly manipulated. The characters are all very different - we have the blacksmith's son Corban (my personal favourite PoV), his fiery knife-throwing sister Cywen, the skilled archer and former brigand Camlin, the gentle giant-hunter (and unwilling noble heir) Kastell, and finally Veradis, the first-sword and blood-brother to an unwitting servant of Asroth. All these characters are very different in their own ways, and it's not immediately clear how they relate to one another, but as the plot unfolds we begin to see how they each might be involved in the grand scheme of things.

The Faithful and the Fallen is clearly intended to be a sweeping epic series, with conflict spreading across the entire world and involving gods and monsters. However, there are some nice personal moments that stand out in my memory, namely involving Corban, such as the naming of his horse (Shield) and his defence of the wolven cub Storm. It would be nice to see more of these, and perhaps more character-driven scenes within battles, which are often described in ways that give more of an overview than a one-to-one account.

Malice won the Gemmell Morningstar Award for best debut novel earlier this year, and although I haven't read any of the other books that were shortlisted for this one, I can understand why this one made the list. Slow to start with, but intriguing, and improving in pace and intensity with every chapter. As Conn Iggulden announces on the cover: it's a `hell of a debut'. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great idea sadly wasted., 7 April 2014
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
The idea here is brilliant and deserves much better than this book.

the problem is that the author seems convinced that we, his readers, are all idiots.
Basically, his idea is that there are two main protagonists and a prophesy for a Prince of good and a Prince of evil.
(I'm going to try not to give any actual spoilers, but he doesn't worry about that at any point in his book).

it would be brilliant if you genuinely didn't know which was going to be which, I'd have lived to have spent this book guessing at who would be which, what might happen to tip one or the other over the edge. But instead one is absolutely flawless and really loves his mum. The other keeps mumbling about how "the end justifies the means" and "wouldn't it be easier to fight the evil if this was all one big empire?"...

The rest of the book is made up from the author trying to fit in every cliche that exists in fantasy writing
Oi, there's a local bully...
Oi, I've been dared to visit the local healer that everyone thinks is a mean old witch...
Oi, I've just made friends with a big scary wolf...
Oi, the local stable master is very friendly with my family and has an air of nobility...
Oi, this secret passage way into the castle probably won't be useful at any point...
Oi, that friendly bandit doesn't seem all bad...
Oi, that giant white worm was scary, best brick up that wall to make sure no more come out...

the list could go on and on. it feels like your watching one of those really bad south American sitcoms. The shear number of cliches would be bad enough, but the author seems to think that we won't be able to spot any of them. he goes on to drop planet sized hints and allusions to his "subtly" developing plot. As a result nothing is a surprise, nothing is unexpected, it's just a relief to get the various plot points out of the way.

(The combat and battle sequences are really hammy as well, although to be fair I have just finished the red knight which is brilliant)

It is a real shame, as the idea of the story is good, just don't believe the reviews.
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70 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine balance, 4 Dec 2012
About two years ago John Gwynne messaged me via the comments box on one of my review's and asked me 'not to laugh' but could he send me a chapter or two of this book he was writing to see what I thought, me having read more fantasy books than Elton's had facelifts. Of course I said I would be glad to have a look and promised not to laugh (though I was already worrying how I would break it to him if I thought it was as bad as my scrawlings!)
Several days later I was e-mailing him urging him to finish the book because I needed to know what would happen and advising him to get an agent because he was that good, and it comes as no surprise at all to me that he has secured the book deal that brings you to this page of Amazon now.

Malice is a fantastic balance between traditional fantasy and the dark modern breed of fantasy so in vogue over the last 5-10 years. It starts deceptively softly; a young boy wanting to be a warrior, intrigue in the royal court, so far, good trad beginings but then explodes out into a hugely complex world of conflict, betrayal, jealousy and blind ambition. Very modern and quite grim. But undercut with friendship, magic, courage and perhaps a refreshing absense of cynacism.

But unlike GRR Martin at present, the author does not shy away from epic battle scenes and giving us the odd triumph and hurrah. And unlike Abercrombie he does not try and work out what he thinks we want to read and then seemingly write the opposite!

This is a hugely complex book that will please and shock you in turns and you will genuinly not know what is going to happen next. People you care about will die and victory is not assured, but this does not undermine the central thread and draw of the story or stop it being 'uplifting' a thing some of ultra grim modern fatasy books have lost of late.

The books roots are steeped in Lord of the Rings but it has grown it's many gnarled branches in the 21st Century of contemporary fantasy and is I think a hi-bred that will please lovers of both schools.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Pedigree is easily discerned, 4 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
Malice is well written, containing everything you would expect from the genre.....Perhaps that is the problem. I found it far too long and slow, nearly abandoning it several times.
Halfway through, it picked up and became quite gripping at times.
I doubt I'll be preordering the sequels.
Only for the true enthusiast, with a lot of patience.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 12 April 2014
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
Well crafted storyline, with characters you can feel invested in. Hardly put it down and am already on to the next book! Would definitely recommend.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed, Gripping Fantasy. Loved it, 21 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
Couldn't stop reading this book. I know John Gwynne explains his inspiration are the works of George R.R Martin and David Gemmell. He writes chapters based on each main character and their view of events, not unique, but helps when the list of characters gets long enough to confuse me. I wanted Corban, the main character to fulfill his promise. Much like Harry Potter, Corban is much vaunted by a number of people, but in actuality doesn’t do anything which warrants their adulation. he himself spends this book unaware of his importance to the forces being drawn up against him. In truth in this book it is never explained why he is the chosen, he doesn’t particularly excel and often fails to come good under pressure. But, its fabulously and descriptively written with rich content and a well-crafted world build which spawns some wonderful characters with a terrific plot line about who exactly is the good and just who then is the bad. I loved it
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent but nothing special, 20 April 2013
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This is a book with a storyline that has true potential to pick you up and grab you. Unfortunately, it is let down by the manner in which the author has chosen to describe everything. There are a large number of "main" characters and the book chops and changes between them like a kid with the tv remote control. At no point is it really possible to truly engage with a character because just as you are about to, the chapter ends and you won't see them again for another 30-40 pages. Many of the characters lack any real depth and some of them are exceedingly bland to the point that they are virtual 'yes-men' for one of the other characters, even though the chapter is supposed to be about them. As I said before, the potential is definitely there within this book, but unfortunately it is let down by the presentation and characterisation. If the author had felt able to dedicate a few chapters at a time to each character rather than a mere one, I think that it would make it a much more enjoyable and engaging read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good beginnings of a story, 27 July 2014
By 
Stu (Malmesbury, Wiltshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
The story evolves nicely with plenty of magic and intrigue. However the quality of the writing isn't where it should be. At times it was a little jarring. Having said that I will continue to read the series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's alright., 7 April 2013
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Lucky13 (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
I think 3 stars is ideal for this book as its alright....but just alright. It's not dull, but it's not exciting I guess it's just an average fantasy book. Apart from Corban none of the characters really stood out. Take Kastell for example, one of the good guys but at the same time very bland as he is just nice and that can get a bit boring after awhile. Probably a good book if you have a long journey or just want to pass the time. However this is not a game changer or the new Abercrombie....it's just alright.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 27 Oct 2014
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This review is from: Malice: The Faithful and the Fallen: Book One (The Faithful and The Fallen Series 1) (Kindle Edition)
Wow what a great debut novel! A fantastic plot line with some wonderful characters, some Game of Thrones scheming and Eddings like younger character development. Highly recommended
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