Wrath (The Faithful and the Fallen #4) by John Gwynne - Book Review 21, Feb

Title: Wrath

Author: John Gwynne

Series: The Faithful and the Fallen

Genre: Epic fantasy

Publisher: Tor  

First Published: 2016

Pages: 685 (Pan Books paperback edition, 2017) 

My Rating: 5 stars 

A fantastic and satisfying conclusion to one of the best fantasy series to grace the genre in recent years. 

The nail-biting cliffhanger at the end of Ruin had me immediately reaching for the final book in The Faithful and the Fallen series, aptly named Wrath. John Gwynne does not keep the reader in suspense for long as the book picks up right where the last one left off. Drassil has fallen, the Bright Star’s warband decimated and scattered across Forn. Corban himself has been captured by the Jotun, a neutral force in the God War so far. Meanwhile, Asroth’s return draws near as his servants are close to collecting all the Seven Treasures and summoning him and his horde of Kadoshim into the Banished Lands. The stakes are high and only through truth and courage will the forces of good prevail. 

Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen #3) by John Gwynne - Book Review 25, Jan

Title: Ruin

Author: John Gwynne

Series: The Faithful and the Fallen

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Publisher: Tor

First Published: 2015

Pages: 746 (Pan Books edition, 2016)

My Rating: 5 stars 

The third instalment in John Gwynne's epic fantasy saga, The Faithful and the Fallen, is the series' longest, bloodiest and most epic yet.

The end of Valour saw the beginning of the God War with a host of Asroth's servants, the Kadoshim, being summoned to the Banished Lands. While Nathair comes to grips with the revelation that he is actually the Black Sun, Corban and his warband have fled Murias and journey towards the fabled fortress of Drassil in the depths of Forn Forest to prepare for the coming battle. Meanwhile, Edana returns to Arden to take back her homeland from the treacherous Evnis and merciless Queen Rhin, while Maquin and Fidele stoke the flames of a growing rebellion in the heartland of Tenebral. 

With a story spanning the length and breadth of a continent, Ruin consists of a cast of fourteen viewpoint characters, from ancient giants to vengeful queens to heroic warriors. Each one is a thrill to read and Gwynne does an exceptional job in developing their interpersonal relationships and weaving their various plot strands together. I really like how he continues to focus on characters on both sides of the God War. It is not often we get to spend time with the villain(s) in a story and listen to their reasoning and justification for their dark deeds. It makes for compelling reading. 

I have been engrossed in Corban's story from the start but by Ruin's end I realised just how much I love Camlin and Maquin's stories. Indeed they are my favourites. Like Corban, both have gone through some incredible character growth since Malice. I also really enjoyed reading the new point of view perspectives from Haelan, the true heir to Isiltir, and Ulfilas, the first sword of Isiltir's usurper king. The focus of their story naturally feeds into the greater plot. 

Speaking of the greater plot, Gwynne delves deeper into the history and lore of the God War with some jaw-dropping revelations that took me completely by surprise. Gwynne continues to embrace some of the fantasy genre's most common clichés and turn them on their heads. There are more trips to the Otherworld where the Ben Elim and Kadoshim fight their eternal war, which I delighted in. It is a place of deep myth and mystery that is just ripe for exploring. We also finally get to see the fabled fortress of Drassil and it is as incredible as you might imagine. 

Considering this is the God War, one would expect there to be plenty of war, and by Elyon, Gwynne does not disappoint. Ruin is by far the bloodiest book in the series, boasting the most battles and epic showdowns. There is a more fantastical element to the action than ever before with flesh-eating demons and bear-riding giants joining the fray. Gwynne continues to put readers in the front line of the shieldwall beside Veradis and right in the heart of the bloodshed. The way he writes action is superb, striking a fine balance between vivid detail and an unrelenting pace. 

John Gwynne is a master storyteller. There is no doubt about it. Malice and Valour are brilliant books and I gave each a five-star rating on Goodreads. Ruin, on the other hand, is on another level, and deserves a solid six stars. It left me in ruins (pun totally intended), ending on a nail-biting cliffhanger that had me immediately reaching for the fourth and final book in the series, Wrath


Valour (The Faithful and the Fallen #2) by John Gwynne 09, Jan

A phenomenal book two that continues to remind me of what makes the fantasy genre so special.

In my review for the first book in The Faithful and the Fallen series, Malice, I said that it was an absolute tour-de-force epic fantasy tale that reminded me of why I fell in love with the genre in the first place. Well, I'm delighted to say that John Gwynne continues that trend with the sequel, Valour. 

The story picks up in the immediate aftermath of the first book's finale. Corban and his unlikely warband are on the run following the fall of Dun Carreg to the forces of the Black Sun and Queen Rhin. At the same time, a grieving Maquin must escape the tombs of Haldis after the ultimate betrayal and avenge the loss of his ward, Kastell. Valour hits the ground running from the get-go and does not relent for the remainder of its pages.