The plot in Valor started literally straight from where Malice left off and it’s really stunning how much better it is. The story is darker and more complex even though there’s actually less politicking here since the prophecy from the first book finally unraveled its thread, this means Bright Star & Black Sun identity has also been truly revealed. The unraveling of the prophecy provided a highly faster plot progression compared to some Dark Epic Fantasy series. For example, “Winter is Coming” from ASOIAF (books version), even after 20 years of publication, it's still nowhere in sight. Although the politicking is scarce here, this doesn’t mean the manipulation and deception is gone, I can safely say after reading this that it’s even more common and evident compared to Malice, resulting in terminal blind justice and beliefs for some of the main characters.
Friendship and family has always been one the best factor to come out from the first book and don’t be afraid, you won’t run out of them here despite how dark the story is. There’s so many heartwarming scene between these lovable characters (human and animals), with only two books, John Gwynne managed to cast a love spell that attracts me to care so much towards every characters, villains’ aside of course. All of the characters are really easy to get attached to since their personality, development, strength and weaknesses are written really well plus it’s always amazing to see how the each characters POV intertwined. However, I must remind this, this is a dark fantasy and the world these lovable characters live in is really bleak, heartbreaks are bound to occur. I haven’t mentioned any of the characters names since my Malice review and I’ll continue this fashion until the end. This is because there are a lot of “heartbreaks” in the series and I’ll leave that for you to find out by yourself why I made this decision. Seriously though, start this series.
Despite all these great things I said, what Valor excels the most from the first book is its action sequences. Characters from the first book are well established already and because of this, John Gwynne could focus more on the action scenes with fantastic results. Valor’s pacing is really well paced, filled with brawl after brawl with a short break before some shit happened again. There are so many war and intense actions scene spread throughout the book and by that, I mean really huge action sequences and climax. Shield Wall, strategy, stealth, giants, magic, I absorbed these amazingly written action scenes as if I’m truly inside all the madness. Reading the wars sections whilst seeing the events unfold from the POV of each opposition also added a huge amount of depth and emotion. Consisting of 120 chapters of around 600 pages, out of those, I estimate that half of those pages are all phenomenal actions scene.
I must also mention this one quote from the book that I could relate to deeply.
“Memory is a double-edged sword, Uthas. It can keep you strong through dark times, but it can also cripple you, keep you locked in a moment that no longer exists.”
Honestly, I have no complaint about the book at all. The only flaw (if I have to nitpick) probably will have to be the lack of the main characters physical description. However, I already put a face towards all of them with the information I compiled from Malice and this doesn’t take away my enjoyment of the book at all.
Valor is an amazing 2nd book of a series, it doesn’t suffer the infamous 2nd book syndrome and as a whole, it provides a highly engrossing experience. It’s hard to put down, it have many plot and characters development and I’m really happy to know that I still have 2 books left in this series to read, not one. I can’t wait to see how the story evolved from here, in fact, I’m starting the next book, Ruin, straight away after writing this review. Once again, I highly recommend this series to anyone who’s looking for a fantastic dark epic fantasy with compelling characters, greatly written actions sequences and unpredictable plot. I’ve only finished half of the series and the experience I got from it is Sic Parvis Magna -greatness from small beginning-. There’s absolutely no reason for you to skip this series if you’re a fan of dark epic fantasy with the classic 'Good vs Evil' theme.