Review: Malice by John Gwynne
Updated: May 23
Series: The Faithful and the Fallen
Author: John Gwynne
A Song of Ice and Fire, but with less dragons and more angels.
For a novel that was first published in 2012 I am genuinely shocked that Malice and its author John Gywnne don't have more national recognition. It's quite incredible that this was Gwynne's debut novel, because I can say with the utmost sincerity that it's an incredible book.
The story starts slow, with Gwynne taking his time to integrate you with his strong cast of characters that span much of a continent. Said world is rich with lore and culture, and over the course of the novel you will become well acquainted with many of its different regions and peoples. If you're a fan of series' such as A Song of Ice and Fire, the Darkwater Legacy or the Empirium Trilogy then you will love this book. Filled with giants, magic, warring nations, honourable knights, and politics, this book really does combine the best elements of the aforementioned.
Despite that slow start, once the story does start to ramp up it does it magnificently. Then you realise that all that time you spent ingratiating with the characters (both POV and supporting) has been worth it as now that events unfurl you undoubtedly care about each and every one of the people involved. It's been quite a while since I found myself caring about characters in a novel the way that I care about many within Malice. The range of emotions that he characters make you feel is really impressive, I can't remember a time before Malice where I was genuinely disappointed in a character, especially when I'm only one book into the series.
This isn't to say that there weren't some characters that I preferred to others. Veradis and Corban are both very strong POV characters, but toward the end of the novel I certainly found myself more thoroughly invested in the Corban side of things. Out of all the characters he has the most development over this first novel, and I'm excited to see where his story goes. I also really enjoyed Cywen and Kastell's chapters, but wanted to see more from them. Particularly Kastell, who I thought could have done with two or three more chapters to really flesh him out so he reached the heights of the others.
Camlin and Evins I would consider as more of supporting characters, despite being POV chapters, but that's not to take anything away from them, they're still very fun characters and Evnis in-particular adds a lot of intrigue. The rest of the cast, too numerous to mention here, round out a well thought out and realistic world. Not everyone in the world is going to be a hero, and not everyone in the world is going to miraculously make it out alive.
The political intrigue is well built, and much like A Song of Ice and Fire, serves as a very well thought out screen to shield the real threat lurking in the background. I found that I was invested in the outcomes of each kingdom, cheering on various kings and rooting against others.
Overall I found Malice to be a thoroughly enjoyable read and I am SO please that I joined the party late, as now I don't have to wait for the next book. If you're a fan of the fantasy genre then this book (and probably series) is a must.