I took my time reading Wrath, wanting to savour it as much as possible. Gwynne has created such a wonderful cast of characters, each with their own standout personalities and idiosyncrasies. Over the past few months I have become heavily invested in their stories and I just did not want them to end. On top of that is the fact that not everyone makes it in the finale, and Gwynne gives each of them a proper send-off.
As I stated in my review for Ruin, the three standout characters for me were Corban (of course), Maquin and Camlin and this hasn’t changed. Accompanying Corban on his journey towards adulthood and watching him overcome the many challenges he has faced along the way has been an absolute pleasure to read. With him, Gwynne has done a wonderful take on the chosen one trope. One of my favourite parts of Corban’s story is the father-son relationship with his mentor and friend, Gar. Their connection has been integral to Corban’s growth, and indeed the plot, and Gwynne continues to treat their relationship here with the same level of love that he has done throughout the series, even more so. They would walk through hell and high water for each other, and indeed they do.
Maquin and Camlin’s stories were just as engrossing as Corban’s. The fact that Maquin started off as just a supporting character before growing into one of the best main characters in the entire series is evidence of Gwynne’s skill as a writer. The Old Wolf has been dragged through absolute hell throughout the series, shaping him into one of the most badass characters in the fantasy genre. Camlin, the outlaw-turned-queen’s man, continues to be just as likable and charming as he had been that day Gwynne introduced him in the Baglun. I would not exactly call his journey a path to redemption, since he was a good person caught in bad circumstances, but nonetheless, watching him go from outlaw to close companion of Corban and Edana puts a smile on my face.
To be fair, I enjoyed every viewpoint character’s story, including the villains’, such as Lykos and Uthas. For the first time in the series, Gwynne gives us an insight into the mind of Nathair, the Black Sun. In the same way that Corban is the embodiment of the chosen one trope, Nathair is that of the tragic-villain. Even though he has come to fully embrace his role in the Gods War, there is still a flicker of goodness that compels him to do so. The bond of brotherhood between him and Veradis is another one of the series’ compelling aspects and Gwynne does it proper justice here.
Another one of the best aspects of The Faithful and the Fallen series has been the action. There has been as many epic battles in the series so far as there are viewpoint characters. And Gwynne has saved the best for last. Wrath is filled with action from start to finish, with the last 25% of the book given over to the final battle in the Gods War. It is the bloodiest, most vivid and downright epic of the entire series, filled with both thrilling and heartbreaking moments. At the same time, Gwynne prevents readers from being lost in the chaos by keeping focused on the characters throughout as they carve their way across the battlefield. I enjoyed the last part so much that I read it twice and not only was it just as good the second time, but still hit me in all the same feels.
Wrath is a fantastic and satisfying conclusion to one of the best fantasy series to grace the genre in recent years. I place The Faithful and the Fallen in my top 10 series of all time. I said it before and I will say it again, John Gwynne is a master storyteller. I am excited to read the Of Blood and Bone trilogy, delighting in the fact that this is not the end to my journey through the Banished Lands, but at the same time dreading the inevitable heartache that will come with it.