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69 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fine balance
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...
Published 21 months ago by Mr. A. I. Harrison

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3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't know they wrote these anymore...
This is a very old fashioned epic fantasy novel, so much so it's hard to believe this is a new series. Every cliche going is present and correct. All the characters are black and white, 2D at best and have no development other than what is apparent very early on.

A lot of this I wouldn't mind however if it wasn't so long and if it didn't take forever getting...
Published 7 days ago by MarcthePat


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69 of 82 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent start to a series., 14 April 2014
By 
Patrick Mullane (Cork, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'd not be able to add much to the positive reaction that other reviewers, however I did enjoy the book and find the author's style and characterization on a par with the late and well-renowned David Gemmell.
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9 of 11 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read, 22 April 2014
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This review is from: Malice (The Faithful and The Fallen Book One) (Kindle Edition)
A good read and I'm looking forward to see how the story develops. Really impressive for a first novel. Alastair
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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) (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent new fantasy series - loved it., 1 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Malice (The Faithful and The Fallen Book One) (Kindle Edition)
I bought this on the off chance as I was looking for a good holiday read, it was very difficult to put it down and excellent. The story follows the lives of several characters and the way in which their lives interact as a momentous occasion happens in their world (only way to say it without giving the plot away). You have the good v evil sides and also several periphery characters that are as yet undecided, all are well described and you start to have a real empathy with them. Possibly the best thing about the series is that the author doesn't shy away from killing off characters that are on the "good" side, something that happens all too often in fantasy series with there protagonists survive every battle / fiasco with the baddies body count going through the roof. I would recommend to anyone who is a fan of the David Gemmel genre and I can't wait for the next few books in the series.
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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) (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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Malice, 10 April 2014
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This review is from: Malice (The Faithful and The Fallen Book One) (Kindle Edition)
An outstanding read from start to finish,great characters ,vivid story line, and action that never stops , Can't wait to read Vengeance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great new series, 23 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Malice (The Faithful and The Fallen Book One) (Kindle Edition)
Really enjoying these books and the way the characters are developing, just hope the author can keep it up through out the series
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3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't know they wrote these anymore..., 11 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Malice (The Faithful and The Fallen Book One) (Kindle Edition)
This is a very old fashioned epic fantasy novel, so much so it's hard to believe this is a new series. Every cliche going is present and correct. All the characters are black and white, 2D at best and have no development other than what is apparent very early on.

A lot of this I wouldn't mind however if it wasn't so long and if it didn't take forever getting going. Other authors, have proven that world building can be incorporated within narrative and doesn't take hundreds of pages of prose and kids coming of age.

Only reason that I've given this book 3* is that it speeds up in the final third and has some decent action. Nice to read but not essential.
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